Apparently "Death" acts as the noticeable decline in content for Sweden's RAM. Although I have yet to experience "Forced Entry" or "Lightbringer," two of the band's previous efforts, it seems most fans of the group are approaching "Death" a bit more timidly than before. RAM often finds its head reared towards Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and fellow Swedes In Solitude or perhaps Mercyful Fate based on the sonic similarities held by the band and their obvious influences. The story of "Death" is straightforward and dicing heavy metal in its purest form, dashing out with all the signature riffs and structures of traditionalized devil music in a cunning slew of listenable material. I'm not completely sold over RAM's performance though, and a good chunk of the tracks slump below what this group is capable of, but I'm still banging my head to "Death" when the messengers of the master demand it.
RAM's overall pattern here is no mystery to fans of traditional metal, taking portions from Judas Priest, Mercyful Fate, maybe some Iron Maiden and the rest of the legendary platter, and adding their own tints of old-school carnage to the mix. And like their obvious influences, RAM goes through an expected progression of styles and structures within "Death," often times heaving speedy offerings and longer mid-paced anthems to balance the flow of the album. The biggest problem I have is the basic atmosphere surrounding some of the material; it's more or less a combination of the squad exploring outsides themes unsuccessfully and the inclusion of lacking instrumentation. For example, "Frozen" derails the experience quite vehemently, being that most of the up-tempo songs beforehand were, uh, up-tempo, and "Frozen" itself slows down the pace dramatically. That in itself is no problem, but it's just a banal song, unmemorable and completely mundane. Most of the time they stay cool and calm, yet these little troubles do exist.
Vocalist Oscar Carlquist does a bang-up job in his role as vocalist; under every circumstance he acts surprisingly dominant, and his unique register enables him to nail notes of any niche with dashing precision. The faster numbers emit dangerous amounts of life and energy that most of the mid-paced tracks lack, and it's no doubt songs like "Defiant" and "Under the Scythe" rule the day when it comes to "Death." The six-minute "Hypnos" is a lackadaisical rocker that doesn't accomplish anything significant, and "1771" acts as an unimportant instrumental conclusion just buffing along in its own little world. I'm also really fond of "...Comes From the Mouth Beyond" and "Flame of the Tyrants," two more slices of heavy metal cooked with that special RAM seasoning of badass choruses and more grabbing riffs than the average faction.
As you see, I feel like RAM delivers on an inconsistent basis. They sometimes add amazing, zesty tunes loaded with stellar musicianship, but they also fall flat every few songs or so, and the overall flow is not too appealing. I feel like this band has the essentials to really make a cataclysmic record in them; flares of this glory show up here, but RAM needs a full-on inferno to make the most out of their resources. I'm not thinking "Death" can top the efforts of In Solitude, Portrait, or other traditional metal bands that have emerged from Sweden blessed by the glare of legends, but it's a coherent slab of meaty heavy metal at its rotten core regardless, totally listenable and digestible at the end of the day, just not fantastic.