RAMAGE INC. - Under The Skin (Album)
Traditionally the months of December and January are pretty slow for new releases which gives us the chance to catch up on the albums we may have missed when they first came out. And sometimes, if you’re really lucky, you unearth an absolute gem. ‘Under The Skin’ is one such gem.
The brainchild of Scottish production whizz, Bryan Ramage, this is an album of progressive, grandiose metal, full of driving guitars and insistent drums wrapped in elegant soundscapes and soaring vocals. It is, unsurprisingly given Ramage’s day job, an album of lushly produced songs, the tone bringing to mind Devin Townsend’s wall of noise approach. In fact there is more than a hint of Hevy Devy throughout the album which is no bad thing, although RAMAGE INC. play it much straighter than Townsend ever does. In his hands, the marching beat of ‘Journey To Peace’ would probably involve thousands of puppet aliens descending upon Chris Jericho, whereas in Ramage’s hands it is a full on, blood pumping slab of metal. What RAMAGE INC. do so well is temper the heaviness with deft lighter moments, adding texture and depth to their songs.
And depth really is the key word. Even after multiple listens it feels like you’re only really scratching the surface of what the album has to offer. The songs shift and change around you, building up to great crescendos and then slipping into quieter, more subtle refrains. Choral singing punctures the barrier of sound while a touch of orchestration punctuates the heaviness. There are layers under the layers here but while ‘Under The Skin’ may be a dense album it is not one that ever gets bogged down by it. Nor is it without instant appeal, the first listen draws you in, the energy and power grabbing your attention, but its true complexities are only revealed upon further listening. It is an album you can let wash over you, or one you can immerse yourself in completely.
If you’re hoping for a simple verse-chorus-breakdown-chorus approach then you will be sorely disappointed, but if you’re looking for something a little more diverse then ‘Under The Skin’ is here for you. If you want big chugging riffs then ‘Flames’ can provide that for you. Want something more soothing? Let ‘Pale Blue Dot’ ease your tensions. Hoping for something epic and sweeping, ‘Rhino’ is just one of many that can scratch that itch. There really is a little bit of everything here but crucially the album never loses focus or feels inconsistent, it is like watching the world go by through the window on a long train journey, the landscape changes but you don’t see the joins. City flows into countryside, hills and valleys roll by seamlessly and eventually once you reach your destination it is difficult to remember exactly how the journey began.
If you didn’t manage to catch this album on release then don’t let it pass you by now, because it really is up there with the best that 2018 had to offer. ‘Under The Skin’ is a majestic effort, so just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Ramage - Guitar/Vox,
Hef - Guitar,
Hammy - Drums,
Marcin – Bass
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