Avant-Garde may be a little too light of a phrase for the album. Schizophrenic may be a little more fitting to describe everything going on here. Multi-genre-ists, RAM-ZET, fit more styles, genres and offshoots into this album than any other band that can still be considered Metal. From the KMFDM-esque Electronic/Industrial rhythms, to the start and stop ferocity of Djent bands, to the piano-driven ballads of Modern Pop music; like I said, schizophrenic is a better descriptor than Avant-Garde.
RAM-ZETís fifth full-length release may be their strangest. Not strange as in 'off-the-wall, Iíve never heard this before,' rather strange as in, ďHow the hell did they smash all these genres into one album?Ē The base of the music is definitely Metal. For the most part the guitars chug along utilizing a chunky palm-muting and start-stop method. A few solos sound like they came straight out of a DREAM THEATER rehearsal session.
The keyboards play a huge role in this album. During the straight up Metal parts, they take a back seat and fill as more of a space filler, not really enhancing the music but not detracting from it either. When the music slows down and enters Pop territory the keyboards and piano sections highlight the excellently performed female vocals. As far as keyboards go, thereís nothing too spectacular, but it helps the band change moods on a dime.
The bandís namesake, Zet, gives his usual performance of squelched vocals that border somewhere between Ihsahn and Marilyn Manson. His chugging guitar work is really the most enjoyable part of this album. There are some freaking awesome riffs thrown here and there. The female vocalist plays a huge role, as the wailing rarely ceases. Now granted, her voice is pretty good, it just starts to get under my skin after a while. Definitely not my thing, but they are performed rather well. The female vocals work best when the band goes into Pop territory, as Zetís vocals are much more suited to the Metal sections than hers.
Every instrument is pretty flawless on the entire album. Thereís no spot where I think they could have performed better. The drums are nothing too special, just enough to keep the music moving along. Production is clear as crystal and nothing sounds muddy or diluted.
Some tracks go from Metal to Pop to Metal to Industrial and some tracks go from Metal to Industrial to Pop to Metal. Itís all just a little too chaotic as a whole for my taste. I find this album very hard to swallow in a single sitting. Thereís just not enough time to get used to a certain style before they switch gears and hit another. There are certain sections that are just perfect and beg to be played again, but once you start tapping your feet it switches to something different.
If youíve never listened to any of RAM-ZETís previous outings, then try to imagine an understandable Black Metal singer trying to sound like RAMMSTEIN, while not losing too much of the edge. Add in extremely chunky, chugging Metal riffs and Industrial/Electronic stylings rounding off the edges. Then throw in a female singer who wails away just about the entire album and some keyboards to add more of an Industrial element. You kind of have an idea what this cluster sounds like.
I really want to love this album, as Iím a pretty big fan of Zetís older albums. I find myself liking parts but not the whole. Itís too chaotic and shape-shifting to get into for long periods of time. The band definitely has the chops and, as evidenced on previous albums, excellent song-writing skills. I think they need to focus less on jamming as much stuff into an album as possible and focus on creating memorable tracks that will stick with you longer than a few seconds.
This is a decent album, but definitely not the best Avant-Garde release ever. This isnít even RAM-ZETís best release. If you like really off-the-wall, shape-shifting music then this might be for you. I think the band needs to settle down a little bit and focus a little more. Not essential or required listening. Recommended to Avant-Garde fans and Industrial Metal fans.
(Online July 6, 2012)