|Review: RAM/Portrait - Under Command|
Label: Metal Blade Records
Year released: 2014
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: September 11, 2015
Reviewed by: Christopher Foley
First things first, it's cool to see Metal Blade embracing the spirit of the underground with this here split, and they couldn't have picked a better pairing from their roster for it (Sorcerer and Below for future consideration, though). Anyway, Under Command is a spiky slab of Mercyful Fate and Judas Priest worship from two of Sweden's finer Heavy Metal exports. Each band dishes up an original, a cover of a song from the other band, and a more traditional cover, which when brought together ensures unbridled, wild energy throughout.
The RAM side starts affairs on a high note with their original number "Savage Machine", a total fis- pumping, hip-swinging ode to the almighty Priest with shades of Mercyful Fate love throughout. Hardly original, but tons of fun and absolutely sincere. If they retain this approach on the next full-length, it's looking good. Their cover of Portrait's "Welcome To My Funeral" is completely enthralling and fits the overall vibe set up on the split so far. They slowed the song down somewhat, and I think it has a much creepier feel as a result. "Creatures Of The Night" is, well, it's "Creatures Of The Night", good song and a solid, faithful cover.
Having been floored by Portrait's latest opus Crossroads I was pumped for their side, and while I enjoy "Martial Lead" I can't help feel like it's a victory lap, or b-side. Their stab at RAM's "Blessed to Be Cursed" is absolutely fantastic though; it's cool to see these actss doing each other's material great justice. Their cover of Exciter's "Aggressor" is ace, with great vocals and slight beneficial changes to tempo and drive; more of a d-beat approach as opposed to the straight-up double kicking of the original works wonders.
Overall a cool release worth picking up if you can get it for a reasonable price (no way I'm paying album price for a split under 30 minutes.) Both bands are on top form throughout, and work well taking parts from each others sounds. The end result playing out like a beautiful mash of the top eighties metal acts. Like someone fused together Defenders Of The Faith with Don't Break The Oath, almost too metal to handle.
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