Rampage
Bellum Infinitum
[Unsung Heroes]


To say that I was blown away by this album would be an understatement. "Bellum..." sees Lord Vic and company tackling a much maligned musical beast : traditional metal. Now, truth be told, I don't care much for "new" traditional metal these days - after all, it's a genre which has been fairly exhausted over the years, and there isn't much left that one can add to it...which is why it really speaks volumes when I say that this album is a "must-have"...

Ever wonder what mid-period Bathory would have sounded like if Quorthon had spent a little more time listening to Iron Maiden and a lot less time listening to Manowar ? Well, wonder no more, as that's exactly what will come to mind when you give this gem a few spins. Take the epic nature of "Hammerheart", thrown in some tasty metal (and I do mean M-E-T-A-L) lead guitar lines, a healthy handful of the trademark Rampage sound, and what you end up with this : a good old fashion skull crushing fists in the air metal album. I think a great deal of why this album works is due to the fact that Rampage don't make the mistake of trying to re-invent metal, nor do they simply plagiarize what's been done before - the two main downfalls of most metal albums since the late 80s. "Bellum..." simply and elegantly combines the best aspects of traditional metal and spits them back out in a manner which is both comfortably familiar yet new enough so as to not leave you feeling like you've "heard it all before"...

I suppose it should also be mentioned that "Bellum.." is a concept album (which one can gather from the linear notes of the CD itself), but not to worry - this carefully avoids all the pitfalls of pretentiousness usually associated with this sort of thing (and a damn good thing too, as I generally loathe anything with the word "concept" in it)...and, as has become the norm for Rampage albums, there's a couple of uncredited cover songs thrown in at the end (this on top of the 10 original tracks which make up the bulk of this 65+ minute album) as a bonus...

Note : the more astute amongst you might notice that I'm given co-production credits on this album, which of course brings up the question of bias in this review, so let me sort this out right now : damn right I'm biased! If I didn't feel this was a superior album to begin with, then I wouldn't have helped out with it's production! Whether or not this makes me capable of giving this album an objective review is a matter of opinion, but I'd like to think that if "Bellum..." was a stinker, I'd say so - regardless of my involvement (then again, if "Bellum..." *was* a stinker, then I wouldn't have gotten involved to start with - Catch 22)...


2000 chorazaim