Ram-Zet - Escape


Year of Release: 2002
Label: Spikefarm
Catalog Number: 8024-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 63:40:00

On Ram-Zet's Escape the dual vocalists Sfinx and Zet each take on a character in this dark and grim drama. Zet is the protagonist, a man who is or has been made to think he is losing (or has lost) his mind ? he is hearing voices. One of those voices is Sfinx's character; it is an angelic and sweet voice. You will think of Operation: Mindcrime to some extent, though more in terms of underlying theme than in story, style or execution. And even this is mainly to the images that form the booklet, from the cover -- what is it about disturbed bald men this year? (cf. Porcupine Tree's In Absentia, for one). Escape is also another entry in the "beauty and beast" group of metal CDs ? where Zet is the beast and Sfinx the beauty (although don't for a minute think there's nothing sinister in her sweetly singing "I'm your queen for one day, I'm your queen for one night ? I will teach you to scream for silence?"). Ultimately, he triumphs ? not over insanity, but the voice in his head ? or maybe that's just the beginning? the story could be told in a linear fashion, but another reading could also suggest otherwise. Or perhaps there are even other explanations. It's not very cut and dried, really. At least not to me.

Anyway, as a band, their sound is harsh and angular ? well, this phrase popped in my head (though maybe not for the first time): imagine a Thrak period King Crimson gone insane, infusing their sound with a metal edge. The jackhammer like rhythms from drums (Küth), guitars (Zet again), bass (Solem) mimic the growling vocals, while the keyboards (Magnus) and violin (Sareeta) mimic the ethereal vocals. The music is present, but it is the struggle between dark and light? or really between very dark and dark that is at the center. And, in fact, it's Sfinx's vocals that really stand out on this release. Not that the instrumental performances are sub par, but?well, this isn't an album full of solos. They happen, but they underscore the story.

I'm not a fan of the "beast" vocals, as I've mentioned elsewhere. I don't like them here, either, but I can't see that this wouldn't be as affecting any other way. One needs that raw roughness to make the sweetness sweeter, and you can (with a little help from the lyrics) understand what he's singing?even if only conceptually. It mimics the rage and frustration one trapped in their own mind (naturally or drug induced) must feel. Of the "growly" stuff I heard, this is the least growly. Zet even sings "clean" in a few spots here and there, which just makes the menace of his growl all the more?menacing.

Musically, it's typically strong progressive-minded metal and there some really nice musical passages, especially when the band loses the industrial edge to their sound ? though it is that industrial edge that gives the music its harsh character. As with many releases of these genre (and from this label), the keyboards seem oddly placed, a little further back that one would expect. It does give their music a bit of a three dimensional feel, but perhaps too much so. In "The Sound Of Tranquillity" he nicely fills the empty spaces. The end of this piece is a separate section called "Peace?" and it is, being a floaty atmospheric interlude ? and it's brief respite for both listener and characters, as the madness returns for "The Seeker." This is a switch from most of the album, where Sfinx gets most of the lead vocal time. Actually, it also signals a switch in perspective? where the protagonist becomes antagonist, his personality (his rage) taking dominance. The ending could be the beginning, or perhaps the middle ? as I alluded to.

They throttle back a bit towards the end of "Pray" which has more a progressive rock feel (choose from any of a number UK prog rock bands of the "second" wave? ) and some nice guitar leads from Zet along with some nice piano-like notes from Magnus.

I have mixed feelings about this album? I think the concept is well done, and well executed. It's not something I'd listen to a lot, but its intent isn't entertainment ? that is, this is a heavy, disturbing subject. It's?an experience. You try not to re-live the dark episodes of your life, and yet one does "bring them out" on occasion, even if to marvel at the distance traveled away from them. We peek into someone else's tortured life with morbid fascination, but are relieved to be able to walk away from it. "Whew, glad it isn't me." So?like that, you may not play this as often as say, a cheerier, more upbeat album. But then, I suppose that also depends on your mindset. Whether this was intended or not, like the protagonist, the Sfinx's vocals will linger in your mind long after the CD has ended... perhaps even haunting you.

Released in North America by Century Media


Tracklisting:
'R.I.P.' (8:54) / Queen (7:03) / The Claustrophobic Journey (7:54) / Sound Of Tranquillity/Peace? (8:41) / The Seeker (9:18) / Pray (6:59) / I'm Not Dead (6:38) / The Moment She Died (8:08)

Musicians:
Sfinx ? lead vocals
Küth ? drums
Magnus ? keyboards, stuff
Zet ? lead vocals, guitars, stuff
Solem ? bass
Sareeta ? violins, backing vocals

Additional musicians:

The choir:
Ane Thune Børreson
Renate Grimsbø Kuldbrandstad
Mari Bakke Ottinsen
Randi Strømbu
Sissel Strøbu

Discography:
Pure Therapy (2000)
Escape (2002)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin FI

Added: January 12th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Score:
Artist website: www.ram-zet.com
Hits: 681
Language: english

  

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