This is the first time that I have come across Ramage Inc but Earth Shaker is the Edinburgh based progressive metallers’ newest album; the follow up to very well received Feel the Waves. There seems to be very little written about the Ramage Inc guys other than that this is the brainchild of producer Brian Ramage and that the band shares most of the personnel with Immanis but with this release I can see all that changing.
From the very first track on the album it is clear that Earth Shaker is brilliantly produced and Ramage has achieved what very few producers manage to do – present a cohesive album from start to finish. Atmospherically and audibly it is the same album whilst at the same time managing to take you on a journey of styles and emotions often in the same track, yet not once does it sound contrived.
The album opens with the epic “Earth Shaker” title track and it instantly sets the stall for what is to come. From the atmospheric backing vocals creating the ambience to the addictive drum patterns. With many of the tracks on the album coming in at over 8 minutes long you’d be forgiven for thinking that they have been overdone but it’s simply not the case and the title track is a good demonstration of the versatility of the band. Half way through we are treated to an instrumental break that appears to have the use of didgeridoos [turns out this sound is the vocal talent of Mr Łukasz Karolak, lead singer of Glasgow band The Larch? – Mosh] whilst sounding Middle Eastern. It is reminiscent of New Model Army’s recent album Between Dog and Wolf where a similar technique is used on the track “Qasr El Nil Bridge” but I like that. Seeing similar themes appear on different albums by different bands in the same period is a good thing, it shows the influence of the times.
Second track, “Guardian”, continues the great use of the vocals and is a great back up to the opening track. The album in its early part is best described as more metal Muse meets …And Justice for All era Metallica. Could you ask for more? “Guardian” also highlights the first of many guitar solos on this album that I love. I love the sound of the guitar and it’s late 80’s early 90’s style. This is used to great effect on the track “Learn More” also.
One of the outstanding features of this album though is the use of the riff and many songs really benefit from these riffs and add yet another dimension to the ambience and prog metal. “Enter the Whirlwind” and later track “Transparency” are both great examples of this and also really helps balance the album.
Half way through the album we are introduced to another side of the band, one than can handle slower more atmospheric moments, with gently sung lyrics right the way through to where it all kicks off, the vocals are growled and right at you. “Within Circles” fits within this mould, and the excitement is increased as the track progresses with the help of double paddled drums and the introduction of a female singer. It’s great interplay between the two with each singing of the Ramages “Wish to be more yourself and to be free”. “Break Out” is another track where the duel vocals are used to great effect.
The final track of the album, “Loss”, brings together all the elements from the album so far and is every bit as epic as the album opener with its dreamlike lyrics, ambient opening and epic close.
There really is nothing not to like about this album, and I loved everything about it. Whilst it manages to give a nod to many bands over the last 30 years it also carves its own path, with brilliant musicianship and craft and a production that enables it stand alone as an epic piece of work. Each time you listen you get a little bit more out of the album, hearing something you didn’t before. It has everything: at times it explodes, the vocals are in your face, the guitars are screaming and other times it is hypnotic, atmospheric and emotional. This album deserves to be played loud and this band are destined to be playing venues every bit as massive and epic as this album is.
Earth Shaker is due for release on September 4th