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Rami doesn't need a damn chair - 84%

Liquid_Braino, June 7th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Across Music

Rami seems to be making a name for herself as the true renegade of the current female led J-metal scene. Proclaiming the arrival of this movement with her hair-raising wail that sent "Luft", the first track off Aldious' debut, into the stratosphere, she left that seminal band after their sophomore release due to health reasons. After a long nap, she awoke and tore back into the spotlight fronting the band Raglaia, a leaner, meaner and heavier act. After one full length, she changed direction again and went solo, eventually dishing out this album. Aspiration is a fitting title, as she's certainly aspiring to be heard no matter what sort of drama is going on around her and within her. It does seem like she's still indecisive as to what the hell she really wants musically, but it does make for an interesting adventure.

When a singer decides to go the solo route, it often means a foray into a more introspective mindset and approach. The music gets mellower or even folksy, and there's a lot of "life is hard" self-reflection in the lyrics. Aspiration may not stray from that formula too much, but this isn't some wishy-washy poopshow, and there's thankfully still plenty of metal backing Rami's "secret flame" or whatever. In fact, "In my Eyes" is an absolute powerhouse, a speedy juggernaut clocking in at over six minutes. Her singing seems to have improved a bit as well, not that she was ever in poor form, but her transitions from croons to siren calls sound smoother than ever to my ears. Her band is damn tight as well, and the polished production is a major improvement over her Raglaia full length, which was a buzzsaw noise-fest by comparison.

While not as hammering as her previous endeavors, the variety gracing this album showcases some unexpected signs of sheer coolness as to Rami's divergent tastes, with "Pray to the Sky" really taking me by surprise. It's like a seven minute ode to Queen II in a way, with an opening piano melody that instantly reminded me of "Seven Seas of Rhye" followed by general early Queen-ish bombast and majestic melodies. "Secret Flame" also stands out with its almost gothic vibe, perfectly complimenting her hypnotic "crystal ball gazing" vocal delivery. The closest thing to an outright ballad is unsurprisingly the song entitled "Forever Precious", but even this number kicks into metal territory and it's just too monstrously epic for karaoke bars. I will say though that the quasi "Moonlight Sonata" opening of that number is just too familiar to lure me in. Talk about an overused classical piece.

I came upon this album wondering if metal was even going to be a part of Rami’s current sound. I mean, why put a group on hiatus after only one release so you can do your own solo deal if it's not going to involve some considerable sonic overhaul? So yeah, I was kind of expecting Wonderbread ballads featuring cheeseball solos involving a melodica, along with some poppy J-rock to show she can still somewhat kick a bit of tush if she so desired. Thank fuck I was wrong, because this is one of Rami's best efforts concerning her career, with a couple of killer highlights. I honestly hope she does at least one more solo album of this vein before she again strays off into whatever new aspiration leads her.