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As a big fan of Greening's and Bagshaw's work in Electric Wizard's first four albums, I really wanted to love Ramesses. Although overall they are a good death/doom trio, each of their releases has left me slightly dissapointed, most notably their debut Misanthropic Alchemy.
It feels to me that Ramesses rushed this album out as soon as they could before they had a respectable amount of solid songs and riffs. To me, this album has two highlights, and the rest of the album's duration is filled with lazy and dull tracks that sound like they were composed in 15 minutes.
Mark Greening still has the same distinct drumming style he seasoned EW with, so the drums are loud on the mix for a good reason. Bagshaw has grabbed a guitar for a change, and he would be very pleasant to listen to if the riffs just weren't so poor. Adam Richardson's vocals are interestingly mixed. Sometimes completely buried and sometimes loud and clear. Nothing wrong with that, since he changes his singing techniques quite frequently.
Arguably the best track on Misanthropic Alchemy is "Ramesses, Pt. 2", being the only song with actually exciting doom riffs and a cool structure. Vocal work in the end of this song is fantastically executed by Richardson. This is a dark and angry track, and it creates an illusion that the rest of the album will be as brilliant, but the record falls flat right after. Another cool track is "Terrordactyl". It's a groovy and atmospheric 7-minutes of the same riff repeatedly with horror movie samples throughout. The repetition here works excellently, and ironically, the most repetitive song on the record is less boring than 80% of the other songs.
The decent songs would've worked marvelously as an EP, but something made Ramesses rush to make this boring debut short on ideas. As I mentioned before, this syndrome haunts me on pretty much each one of their releases. There are great moments, but there's always too much mediocrity shoved within that it's hard to be a big fan of Ramesses. They should still keep rocking though, since I believe these men have a lot more to offer in the death/doom world.
I've never been very big into the world of doom metal, especially stoner/sludge/psychedelic doom. After neglecting Electric Wizard forever, I finally gave them a chance last year and of course I found that they ruled. The groovy but heavy crushing riffs of doom are excellent, especially while conjuring some heavy smoke of my own. Though I found the vocals to be fitting to the music, I don't really care much for them, being a life long fan of black metal and death metal, I've always preferred more raw and bestial vocals. And this is where Ramesses comes into play.
I first heard of Ramesses several years ago, but dismissed listening to them as I didn't care much for doom (except of course Hooded Menace, Coffins, Autopsy), however recently while listening to Pandora radio at work they came on my Electric Wizard station. I wasn't able to take in the full darkness of the music until I obtained Misanthropic Alchemy and listened to it at home. And HOLY SHIT was I destroyed by what I heard! Ramesses has all the crushing heaviness of Electric Wizard, but with a much more evil way of doing it. Some of my favorite music is pretty fucking dark, like The Arrival of Satan's Vexing Verses, Lurker of Chalice's ST, or even Forgotten Tomb's Springtime Depression. While Ramesses does not play black metal, they spew forth equally as depressed and downtrodden material.
The album starts off odd, almost upbeat and poppy in a way, which initially I did not like. It doesn't take long for the light to fade however, and when it does it stays pitch fucking black the rest of the journey. I was impressed with how smoothly Ramesses I fades into Ramesses III, and with it the crushing depression sets in. While not letting up on the darkness, Lords Misrule brings forth a groovy as hell riff that made my head bang all on it's own. The fourth track, Coat of Arms, surprised me as it initially sheds some light in the pitch blackness with some nice clean guitar work, but even still the atmosphere is thick and oppressive. I must also mention the amazing bass work here. While all the instruments are fairly simple and straight forward, that should not detract one bit from the skill and great execution accomplished by all the band members. With that said, Coat of Arms might just be my favorite track on this album. The first half of the song is pretty groovy and slightly upbeat, but as with all things Ramesses, this soon fades. Without much warning, the song turns into a blasting black metal track that rips your soul apart. The effect this has on me is tremendous, it's so fucking evil and heavy, yet very moving in a violent way.
After Coat of Arms is done pummeling you with giant black fists, Terrordactyl brings forth more crushing doom that demands you bang your head in time with the beat. But wait! When the 7 minute Terrordactyl pulls it's bloody talons from your flesh, you are presented with even more CRUSHING DOOM with Before the Jackyls. I love the snarling black metal vocals of Adam Richardson as presented in this song. I'm very impressed with how he can go from super deep throaty death bellows, to stoner shouts/clean vox, to that gravelly BM growl. As I mentioned earlier, I absolutely love raw, bestial "vokills", which is where Electric Wizard fails me. Ramesses walks a very fine line between death metal, doom metal and black metal, at least in my ears. This is apparent on the final track Earth Must Die, as it very strongly sounds like a Forgotten Tomb song. Earth Must Die is a perfect end to this suicidal black doom ritual.
In summary, this album is forty-seven minutes of groovy soul crushing black doomed death executed in the best way possible. If you are reading this review and haven't heard this album yet, you need to fix that ASAP. Listen to this at night, with all lights turned off and a good set of bass heavy ear phones, just make sure you write your last will beforehand, because this album will crush the life out of you.