Friday, June 18, 2010

Obscure Bands: Ram-Zet

Ram-Zet is an extreme avant-garde metal band from Norway. Though probably not obscure in their homeland (they've been nominated for a Norwegian Grammy) they are definitely unknown here in the U.S. Their sound is notoriously difficult to categorize (among those who have heard of them), drawing on elements of black metal, thrash metal, industrial metal, gothic metal, and melodic death metal, but refusing to follow any one of these traditions fully.

They have two vocalists: a male vocalist with a strained black metal rasp, and a female vocalist who has a gothic metal style.

The interplay between the two vocalists is very interesting; sometimes they contrast well, but other times they make it seem like one voice is smoothly transitioning into the next. Lyrically, it's appropriately about schizophrenia, and I believe they have followed a concept of a mental patient trapped in an institution which isn't exactly on the up-and-up through most (or all) of their albums.

They include a violinist as a full member of the band, as well as a keyboardist. The violin has never been put to better effect by a metal band--sometimes it provides atmosphere, but at other times it takes the lead to provide melodies unheard in other metal bands. The keyboards are, for the most part, background.

In terms of songwriting, they are very clever. They use strange time signatures and harmonies, but it never sounds awkward. Instead, they always seem to know exactly what they're doing, and they do it well. The music spans the emotional spectrum you might expect given the lyrical content (guilt, horror, pain, frustration, rage, etc.).

I own their first three albums: Pure Therapy (2000), Escape (2002), and Intra (2005). Their style is consistent, but it has enough variety within that I can listen to all three albums consecutively without getting bored once.

They are my favorite band you've never heard of, so you shouldn't be surprised that I give the first two albums 4 out of 5 stars and Intra 4.5 out of 5.

They also have a fourth album, Neutralized, which came out in 2009. You can count on me getting it and reviewing it here at some point. Until then, I'm not going to get bored listening to the releases I already have.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, I've heard of them but have not actually heard their music. I may check them out.