Following on from the masterful 2015 album EARTH SHAKER, RAMAGE INC are back with the ingenious third album UNDER THE SKIN.
Setting the tone for UNDER THE SKIN is melodic instrumental number BLOOD IS BURNING RED. Chanting accompanies ancestral percussion, gradually gaining momentum with a liberal dose of heavy guitar riff and indomitable lead guitar. The entire album is crafted with such precision and the placement of instrumental tracks adds depth and texture to the work as a whole, avoiding the common issue of being space fillers. The chanting, choir like background echos to previous album EARTH SHAKER. This dynamic, meticulously placed throughout the album feels very much like UNDER THE SKIN is born of its predecessor and forges onwards with the unique RAMAGE INC signature sound, taking some unexpected and exceptional turns along the way.
UNDER THE SKIN begins with sliding guitar and classic prog melody. The chants calling in the background adds a sinister aspect.
The first few instrumental minutes of OVERLOAD are jam packed with a soaring guitar and well balanced rhythm section demonstrating the masterful skills of the seasoned members. Drums on this track switch gears many times yet never seem put of place and the pace is astounding. Half way through the groove switches up and makes way for some ultra melodic lead guitar
RHINO opens with a string intro and blossoms into a magnificent work of pure, blood boiling metal.
Picking up the pace with punchy rhythm JOURNEY TO PEACE is a jewel of vocal harmonies and hard hitting riffs. Evocative of the later section of WITHIN CIRCLES on the previous record, the time signatures, wielding guitars and vocals engage battle cry visions. This would definitely be the track you'd lose your pint to at a gig.
PALE BLUE DOT is an instrumental piece with trippy synth, creating an atmosphere of suspense that leads down a whirlwind rabbit hole of impassioned and fierce guitar and rhythm work. The lead guitar paired with choir chants is sublime.
FLOOD is a hard hitting blend of distortion and some brilliant bass work that adds an aura of darkness. Each instrument carves sheer genius and works together brilliantly.
Ambient noise of rain fall and lead guitar open up next track RAIN.
FLAMES is embellished with baroque instrumentation and prominent chanting conjures images of Viling folklore with lyrics "onward to foreign lands we sail away".
STRIVE and AT ONE WITH MANY MOUNTAINS are formulated with mysterious time signatures and seamless musicianship.
Finishing up ALONE is, for me the stand out track of the album. The dream effect guitar playing, bass work and distant vocals are magnificent. Just after the two min mark, the flood of astronomical lead guitar and outstanding vocals pack a major punch. Complimented by beautiful string work it's a magnificent end to an impressive album.