Written by: EW on 01/06/2009 14:01:33

Now in some ways my previously reviewed Enforcer and RAM share much in common - a shared love for classic metal done the proper way (I'll raise a beer to that) but the reason why RAM's attempt at this formula works so spectacularly well is the execution of the attempt. RAM, Swedish also and clearly lovers of NOWBHM too, are more focused on the numerous ways to approach 'metal' than on the genre's half-brother speed metal. Thus the band's second album since forming 10 years ago, "Lightbringer", is a veritable feast of Metal treasures that name-checks many of the inspirations in the field of classic metal with crucially, some inspiring vocal passages and addition of unique touches that will define this as a record not to be messed with for time to come.

There are a number of factors why this album just works. The production job is great, with all instruments clear and in balance with each other. The riff-writing is superb and their incorporation into varying song structures is a major boost over a more standardised affair like Enforcer's. The album cover is direct and forceful too. But with a vocalist in Oscar Carlquist who possesses wonderful range, strength and passion in his delivery the formula is perfect for an album that has got me excited from the first time I played it.

Take "Suomussalmi (The Few Of Iron)" for instance, probably the greatest classic metal song I have heard in years. It's 9 minutes fly by in a flurry of talented metal songwriting with fist pounding and headbanging de rigeur and a lyrical theme (the thwarted Russian invasion of Finland against a considerably smaller army in 1939/40) perfectly fitting to the epic scale of the song. Recalling Manowar, Mercyful Fate, Iron Maiden and Iced Earth at their very best it says enough alone about RAM and "Lightbringer" to warrant a great mark. But the fact you also have the title track and "Blood God" equally deserving of such high praise is credit to the construction of the songs on this record, where writing standard classic metal tunes would've been much easier, but as we previously know, much less interesting.

The tone and pace is found to vary nicely from start to end, with tracks like "The Elixir" which momentarily border on doom and "Blood God" which is reminiscent of a rollicking and pounding Manowar tune circa "Kings of Metal". Also key to the brilliance of this album is the variation of speeds within each track; many 'heavy metal' albums of today are built on cliches and identical (and all too often, boring) riffs that at best sound cheesy, at worst hard to listen to. Time might perhaps alter this view slightly, but right now my repeated listenings of "Lightbringer" have revealed none of these problems, and for it to be such a forthright listen without entering the territory of overblown and pompous is a fine testament indeed.

Without doubt a contender for album of the year, "Lightbringer" with sufficient touring backing will rightly assume RAM near the top of the heavy metal hierarchy, knocking many of the acts currently peddling run-of-the-mill soundalike albums from their perch.

Download: Suomussalmi (The Few Of Iron), Blood God, Lightbringer
For The Fans Of: Iced Earth, Judas Priest, Mercyful Fate, Iron Maiden, Manowar
Listen: Myspace

Release date: 19.06.09
AFM Records

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