Ram-Zet

Escape

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Following the critical success of its debut, Pure Therapy, Norwegian progressive black metal band Ram-Zet dropped the hyper-ambitious Escape in 2002. The group's formula doesn't change on this sophomore effort. The dueling vocals of bandleader/guitarist Zet and the sweet-throated Sfinx lock listeners into the concept record's schizophrenic story. Perhaps just to illustrate the narrative, or as a natural result of the band's divergent musical influences, the discontinuity of Escape has an intentionally grating effect that fans of the most daring varieties of metal should enjoy. Zet's touches of legato soloing à la Allan Holdsworth are a nice touch on "The Claustrophobic Journey" and "Pray" but, despite the technical focus and ever-shifting arrangements, the simpler musical motifs and sonic purity of Sfinx are what make this a special release. Demonstrating the Scandinavian metal reputation for excess and purity, efforts like Escape -- at once strange and traditional -- question convention while simultaneously wallowing in it.

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