RAM / Portrait – “Under Command” (Metal Blade Records)
Just in time for Yuletide comes this split mini album from 2 of Sweden’s upstart heavy metal bands – RAM and Portait! Both bands pretty much grew up together, supporting one another through their early hard days, motivated by their mutual love of heavy metal and as friendships grew, a split release seemed like the perfect way forward to celebrate this. Beginning with ‘Savage Machine’, RAM certainly live up to their name with this high octane Priest like song complete with crescendo vocals and some excellent guitar work from new guitarist Martin Jonssons. Next up they cover Portrait’s ‘Welcome To My Funeral’ which has an interesting epic take putting the Priest spin on what is already a song heavily influenced by Mercyful Fate. Last up is a cover of Kiss’s ‘Creatures Of The Night’ which although heavier that its original still tries to keep the glamor which mebbe it coulda done without? Moving onto Portrait, opener ‘Martial Lead’ was written about one month after their latest album “Crossroads” was released and is a mixture of King Diamond ear splitting soprano vocals and similarly screaming guitars. Returning the favor, they in turn cover RAM’s ‘Blessed To Be Cursed’ but this time present it with a hard but trippy feel especially in Per Lengstedt’s hypnotic vocals. No such hope for the final track however, but a searing cover of Exciter’s ‘Aggressor’ taken from the Canadian thrash trio’s album the ‘Dark Command’ where every instrument is probably glowing red after trying to maintain the frantic rate – good job there’s a lotta snow in Sweden!