Ram_SvbversumWith the worldwide influence of Sweden on two fronts in the metal world and their universally hostile furniture-based takeover through Ikea (complete with Pictionary instructions and oddly tasty meatballs), it’s almost funny to see Sweden cheekily stealing from the initially British-led style of old-school heavy metal and RAM it down all of our throats with a record called Svbversvm. Besides the letter U, I’m not sure what RAM‘s attempting to subvert here, but they’re clearly intent on delivering the goods and defending the faith. But this is the retro game we’re talking about: you have to stand out from the current pack and the old guard, or else what’s the point? Their last record Death was hit pretty hard with the AMG Law of Diminishing Recordings, being mediocre overall. Now that they’re back, let’s get hot rockin’ and see if RAM will be breakin’ the Law.

In case it wasn’t obvious by now, RAM really like Judas Priest and scream it with a vengeance via guitars, drums, bass, and vocals that act like the 80s never left. The Judas Priest they love is the hard rock-ish period of British Steel and the like, so a lot of Svbversvm is based around mid-paced tracks that rely on hooks to make their mark. This puts much of the burden on vocalist Oscar Carlquist, and luckily he’s got a good set of pipes that he’s not afraid to use. You’ll also hear some Savatage circa Hall of the Mountain King in here, but Carlquist doesn’t have the captivating vocal persona of Jon Oliva, so this influence pops up instrumentally instead. That RAM chose a few massive pairs of shoes to fill on Svbversvm is the big takeaway here.

RAM play their particular style of heavy metal with competence and confidence. Svbversvm is the sound of a band comfortable with what they’re doing and possessing the chops and knowledge to do it, and “Eyes of the Night” sees a quality synthesis of British Steel‘s anthemic choruses with Painkiller‘s intensity and busy lead guitars; it’s easily the biggest success on the record. “The Omega Device (MI III)” is a campy sci-fi epic with classic heavy metal riffing throughout and 70s style keyboards in the introduction, and Carlquist’s delivery of the chorus is pitch-perfect, being cheesy but not curdled. Svbversvm‘s title track closes the record in a big way, riding the straight ahead triplet chugs that characterized much of Painkiller and containing the best leads and most interesting guitar work the record has to offer. It doesn’t balance power and hooks as efficiently as “Eyes of the Night” and is admittedly a bit long in the tooth, but it nonetheless shows RAM in their most interesting form.

Ram_2015

Not as interesting are the majority of the other tracks on offer. Continuing their mediocrity spree from Death, RAM make a number of poor choices on their fourth full-length. The pre-chorus of “Enslaver” sees Carlquist reaching well outside of his vocal comfort zone and sounding like a bad King Diamond impersonator, which torpedoes the song immediately. The two and a half minutes of synthesizer gratuitousness of “Terminus” leads into “The Omega Device (MI III)” unnecessarily, wasting time and space on a record that really doesn’t need that sort of bane. Svbversvm tends to chug along at a largely uninspiring mid-tempo pace and comes across as overlong because of it. It also doesn’t help that songs like “Return of the Iron Tyrant” and “The Usurper” have some good ideas but not enough to justify over five minutes of run-time, and they’re not alone in this regard. For the most part the songs on Svbversvm are too long and similarly paced to be effective, and this made further listens seem daunting. Not knowing when to pull the plug on a song in this style of metal is a pretty damning error, and what sounds like a lack of energy exacerbates it.

RAM had their work cut out for them on Svbversvm, and I’d be remiss to call the result a total failure. There’s something good in most of the songs, but by and large they end up dragging on past the point of being enjoyable, content to move inoffensively along at a pace that can come off as lethargic. Adapting the style of the greats is always a risky proposition, and Svbversvm is like microwaving yesterday’s delicious meal: some of it is almost as good, other parts are nearly cold, but the vast majority is lukewarm. Those new to RAM would be better off listening to their first two records, and fans will surely find something to like but will probably end up feeling the same way they did upon hearing Death: disappointed and wondering where the spark went.


Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Metal Blade Records
Websites: RAM.com | facebook.com/RAM
Releases Worldwide: October 30th, 2015

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  • Martin Knap
  • André Snyde Lopes

    Paw-er metal.

  • Stefunal

    That’s a pity. I enjoyed their ёarlier stvff änd the debvt in particvlär.
    Oh, well then.

  • doom-erik

    I like this one. First Ram album I have really gotten in to.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Band photo is excellent!

    • That dog is trve.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        He used to play in TANK these guys got him in for some cred

      • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

        I kinda wish it was a pvg though.

        • Pvg life.

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            haha, well that got very silly very fast

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            The thread didn’t choose the Pvg Life, the Pvg Life chose the thread.

    • Name’s Dalton

      So they’re a six-piece then?

  • I really liked their first 2 albums, especially Lightbringer. Their song “Suomussalmi (the Few of Iron)” is so damn awesome. Now they’ve had 2 lackluster albums in row. Something is amiss.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      I’m worried they’ve said all they had to say on those first two. They were solid records.

  • Is the guy on the far right of the photo leaning against the wall turning into a unicorn? Yes, yes I can see the horn emerge from his crazy eyes.

  • Had a moron moment and didn’t realize the V’s in the title were meant to be U’s. Tried to pronounce the title with V’s. It wasn’t pretty.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Typing that title a bunch of times was like slowly learning how to un-write in English.

  • Thatguy

    All my dislike of this genre (why do these sounds ever need to be made again?) is somehow countered by the band photo. The dog is very smart. The band members are pretending to be serious – the dog is pretending to pretend being serious. He wants off the leash so he can go and hang with someone trve.

    OK, I still dislike this music, but the dog…

    • Are you calling that dog a poser??

      • Thatguy

        The dog is only pretending to be a poser and is thereby mocking the band members, especially the guy leaning against the wall.

      • Thatguy

        You know what though. I think all band photos should have dogs. The trouble is this dog belongs with a grind core or death metal band and not this bunch of revivalists.

      • André Snyde Lopes

        Technically, he is ‘posing’ for the picture.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      “why do these sounds ever need to be made again?”
      Acting as preservers of the genre’s live appeal is about the best reason I can come up with. There’s the odd gem in the mix (Striker’s “City of Gold”, Enforcer’s “Death by Fire”, etc.) but by and large I agree that if you’re just going to make lesser versions of classics why bother?

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Because it’s fun I think is the answer…

      • Thatguy

        Good answer and as good a reason as any.

        I don’t find it fun to listen to myself but that’s just me.

        The dog in the band photo is a lot of fun though.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          Try SATAN if that doesn’t move you … well then you have a heart ov stone ;)

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    They’re so Retro they even went with a retro breed of badass dog: a Dobermann. Dobermanns were the scariest dog breed of the 80s!

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    The band is named Ram and they have their picture taken with a dog. What’s next? A band named Dog having their picture taken with a ram?

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      …Time to find a band and a petting zoo!

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Make sure to reserve a spot for Chinchilla, the German Power Metal band.

    • beurbs

      That sounds way cooler

  • Pablo Casado Gañarul

    The review is great but reading it in my cellphone was hilarious…
    ‘Reads and enjoys the text’
    -Here comes the promo shot of the band..
    ‘Scrolls down some more’
    -WTF IS DOIN A DOG THERE… AND HE WANTS TO LEAVE X______DDDDDD

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Thank you! Didn’t even look at the promo pictures when I was writing this, so the dog was a surprise to me as well actually.

  • Sam Malone

    Great Album. Great band!

  • What RAM album had “the spark” that you feel is missing? Lightbringer?

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Mainly Point of Entry, but Lightbringer too. This one just sounded bloated and short on quality ideas on a whole, and it seemed as if they developed the lesser stuff into 5 plus minutes hoping that would somehow make it better.

  • Jeffwasp

    Actually this review stinks. The album is exceptional in every way, and the band goes from strength to strength. Just about every other review rates this album highly – it came top in Rock Hard’s Soundcheck. Angry Metsl Guy is actually Sad Metal Guy.