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RAM - Svbversvm


by Matt Hensch

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I've chalked RAM up as a solid band at best and a dullard Judas Priest wannabe at worst. Not to insult the Swedes, but it's the truth. I think the group's best work appears on the "Under Command" split with Portrait, because (a) they are notched up to Portrait, a superior band who is astounding in every respect, and probably receive the crumbs of their dominance, and (b) their side has just one original track and two covers, one of which is a Portrait tune. "Svbversvm" may be something of importance to the RAM catalog as it manages to shed much of the inconsistency that has loitered around the group since the dawn of time like the homeless dude who follows me whenever I go grocery shopping.

"Svbversvm" wins because it refuses to abandon what gave RAM its identity, although that identity usually had a talent for screwing the pooch. RAM does the ultimate thing a band can do when trying not to be lame: They confront the screw-ups directly and set them straight. The Judas Priest vibe of prior records is on point, kicking off with an excellent first half of metallic beatings that are stronger than any of RAM's prior efforts. "Return of the Iron Tyrant" captures what "Svbversvm" has in its pockets, heaving up ironclad bridges and sections that bite in medial chomps and up-tempo snips with excellent poise. "Eyes of the Night" and "Enslaver," two whippings of up-tempo heavy metal, are almost alien given how much energy is present.

And unlike the usual RAM output, each track makes its presence known like a smelly dump in a public restroom: The huge, thumping chorus of "Holy Death" kicks like a steel boot, and the surging prowl of "The Usurper" is beastly. It makes me wonder if this is the same band that wrote that boring "Dead" album or whatever it's called. "Temples of Void" has some Mercyful Fate-ish notations in its main riff, which is an automatic stamp of approval. The title track, again, takes all the elements that made RAM a pretender and puts them on the map for notable heavy metal bands with its jackhammering rhythm and melting leads. Oscar Carlquist sounds awesome nailing ridiculous falsettos and wailing like a siren of steel, no longer acting like a passive tool for a third-rate metal band.

"The Omega Device" is the one piece of classic RAM, with its hard rock vibe coming off as campy and unneeded. The production could also use a bit more grit; the modern style and this brand of heavy metal are just incompatible. Surprisingly, though, "Svbversvm," which isn't a real word and I have no idea what it means, doesn't sound like scrotum. It's a few miles from perfect, but I'll gladly take this over what RAM usually settles for.

RAM - Svbversvm
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