|Review: Rampage - Bellum Infinitum|
Label: Unsung Heroes Records
Year released: 1999
Genre: Black Metal
Review online: March 11, 2002
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
Here's an album that's not exactly easy to review. Over an hour of playing time and not really one song that sounds like the others. Here Rampage takes us on a trip through a variety of metal genres, Rampage-style. This album is a blend of traditional heavy metal, Thrash, Doom, with some Blackened elements here and there, and then throw in some acoustic guitar and a couple of instrumental intros/outros for seasonning. Variety is something that's definitely not missing on this release. Hell, the first 25 seconds of one song (track 5) remind me a bit of a song on Bon Jovi's "New Jersey" album (it took me a hell of a long time to figure out where I had heard something similar to that before!) Don't take this the wrong way, however: Rampage doesn't do into the glam rock stuff.
No matter the song, one thing each one has in common on this album is that the sound is raw. Raw is good. Raw is metal. And that is how Rampage sounds. The band doesn't restrain itself to one specific genre of metal (on this album and also on their other ones for that matter) yet carries its sound very well from one genre to the other: You hear it, you know it's Rampage, whether it's a Thrash or Doom song. They could give some pussified bands a lesson on how to evolve in their music without going pop.
Musically I really don't have anything negative worth saying - this is metal to the bone and the music just sounds... real and honest (I'm out of words. ;)) The only downside to this album is that the vocals sometime sound a bit forced or inadequate - on some songs the vocalist seems to have tried to hit notes that he could not handle and the result is so-so. On some other songs however, the vocals range from adequate to very good - you get a mix of clean vocals (very variable results), Thrash vocals and death-style growls on the Doom song. Is that enough variety for you? The music is good enough that it far compensates for the occasional so-so vocals, so all things considered, this is pretty much just a minor complaint.
The album ends on two "hidden" tracks, a cover of Kiss' "War Machine" and one of Darkthrone's "In the Shadow of the Horns", both quite interesting - the Kiss cover is pretty heavy compared to the original, and the Darkthrone cover is amazingly raw as hell.
The album is a concept album, but doesn't include the lyrics - rather a short description of what each song is about in the liner notes. Also worth noting is that like other UHR releases, this comes on CD-R only. Stop whining, it's priced accordingly.
In short, this album kills, and just won't leave my CD player. Highly recommended (also stop by the pharmacy and get something for neck pain, you'll need it after all the headbanging.)
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