Gig Review: Ramage Inc / H8TEBALL / Ophanim – Bannermans, Edinburgh (30th October 2022)

Ahh, Bannermans, my home from home. Back again tonight to catch a band who have not played a gig in 378 days. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen the fabulous Ramage Inc myself, but we have a couple of bands to warm us up first.

Ophanim (c) Gary Cooper

Young local two-piece alt-groove instrumental metal band Ophanim are first to hit the stage, with Ewan Marr on guitar and Joplin Meredith on drums. They start off with “Cherubim” and both look a touch nervous as they get going, but they soon settle into a groove. They run through a nicely paced set with tracks like “Cannibal Plateau” and “Passage of Sightless”, but the stand out tracks for me were “Ophanim” and “Succubus”. With very much a nod to early Black Sabbath, they’re a band I’ll be keeping an eye on as they develop as I think they can only get better.

If you like a touch of groove-laden alternate doom (and who doesn’t?) then this band is for you. They went down well with the crowd tonight, for sure. Give the lads a like on Facebook, check out their stuff on YouTube and so on. Let’s keep new music alive and well.

A band I’ve been meaning to catch for a while but kept missing them, those mental Kirkcaldy boys H8TEBALL decimate the place with a short but furious set. It includes cuts from their 2020 EP Undead, and was a whirlwind set of songs, costumes, jumping into the crowd, a conga dance and seagulls (don’t ask).

H8TEBALL (c) Gary Cooper

They get the party going with “Shallow Graves”, “Rise” and “Heathen” – an excellent triple-barrelled assault on the eyes and ears with Daniel looking like a mental Marcel Marceau. Atholl on guitar gets his Borg on, Scott (also on guitar, but a different one) as a form of neon Predator, Zombie Jahren on bass and Liam as a Slipknot style clown. Up next we get “Disgrace” with its heavy crunching guitars and intense vocals. This was a killer bounce-along track, quickly followed by the Slipknot-esque “Get Fucked” with heavy crashing drums and bass.

The opening chugging riffs grab you immediately as the guitars kick in for “Undead”, the vocals are a gutteral volley of sound complemented by the band in full flow. H8TEBALL end a truly magnificent, manic set with “Unbreakable”, during which Shannon has that classic death metal roaring style going on that is so enjoyable. There was much audience participation, including yours truly, as we all sang the chorus line.

This was a most enjoyable set from the band which has influences from Carcass to Pantera with their death-tinged thrash metal act. H8TEBALL have said they “formed to make as much mayhem as possible, whilst sounding heavy doing so” and they certainly proved that tonight. I’m exhausted trying to photograph them in all the madness.

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Ramage Inc (c) Gary Cooper

The Ramage Inc boys are up next for their first Scottish show in about three years. They class themselves as epic progressive metal but the band are much more than that. They open up tonight’s proceedings with the short but intense instrumental “Blood is Burning Red” from their 2018 Under the Skin album. Witness its crunching guitars from Bryan and Hef, pounding drums from Hammy and bass riffage galore from Marcin! They then let us know that “Humanity has Failed”, a new track and quite an impressive track it was.

This is one of those bands that ooze quality in all that they do live – and in the studio – with main man Bryan Ramage at the production helm. The opening chords ring out for “Under The Skin”, a track that highlights Hammy’s drumming, with bass lines to match from Marcin. There is an otherworldly sound quality to the guitars from Hef and Bryan as his voice comes in gently, and then opens up like Alice in Chains in full flow. There is a underlying subtlety to this track with its depth of highs and lows, absolutely stunning live.

We have another couple of new tunes next with “Fallen” and “Dune”. There is a deep intensity with the new material that bodes well going forward for the band. The precision with which they play tonight you would not think they have not been on a stage for over a year. There is a ferocity in the way Bryan plays and sings like a man possessed at times. We come face to face with the “Rhino” with its Middle Eastern-style riffs as it starts up, the pounding drums and bass backing up the guitars and soaring vocals make for a impressive sonic wall of sound. This is quality playing of Dream Theater heights. Having done Bloodstock, this is a band that deserves to be on a much bigger stage more often… and probably will.

Ramage Inc (c) Gary Cooper

We have another new one in the form of “Extinction” which keeps that intensity flowing. On the strength of the new songs, I look forward to a new album soon hopefully.

Ramage Inc end tonight’s set with “Don’t Bring Me Down” from their 2013 Feel the Waves album, and this is possibly my favourite song of the evening. It rocks from the moment those guitars open up and you are taken along on a Muse-like power trip. Bryan’s voice is just epic on this track. The drumming, bass lines and the guitar tones are just immense and all so in tune with each other. What an end to a powerful performance.

A live show like I’ve not had in a long time, there is an intensity in their playing that I don’t get from anyone else – as they are not like anyone else. They may have hints of other bands in their sound, but they make it their own. Ramage Inc’s music gets under your skin and into your head in all the good ways and leaves you feeling energised. The band’s studio albums benefit from the master craft of producer, vocalist and guitarist Bryan Ramage (as do other bands he produces), and this comes across in their live performance. You feel that nothing less than perfection will do or as close as you can come on a live stage.

“The boys are back in town,” as Phil Lynott would say. More live shows please! If they are near you at any point go catch them live, you will be blown away.

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Photos by Gary Cooper Photography

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