Album Title: Displeasures of the Flesh
Label: Unsung Heroes Records
This is the fifth Rampage album, and the first with the new vocalist, Aerik Von, also of Black Moon Rising.
This release isn't the same style as the rest of Rampage's recent work. "Monolith to an Abandoned Past" explored doom metal, and the tracks on the split with Cross Sodomy and Song of Melkor were black metal, but "Displeasures of the Flesh" is pure, 100% old-school heavy metal. The change isn't too surprising, given Rampage's early catalog. No need to fear, though, as the music on this EP more than lives up to the best of Rampage's work. An new recording of an old favorite ("Doomsayer") returns, along with a new song ("Displeasures of the Flesh") and two covers, Black Sabbath's "Wall of Sleep Suite" and Countess' "The Wrath of Satan's Whore".
This version of "Doomsayer" sounds quite a bit better than the one on "Monolith to an Abandoned Past". This is almost entirely due to Aerik Von's gravelly vocals, which suit the song perfectly. This one is a great choice for lead-in track, as it shows off both the vocals and the guitar.
Next up is the new song, "Displeasures of the Flesh". This one is a swaggering tribute to excess, with some memorable, chunky 80's style riffs. This song will be stuck in your head for weeks, thanks to the solid songwriting. The solos are especially notable.
The Sabbath cover is quite enjoyable. Vic nails the riffing perfectly, while Aerik Von comes close to filling Ozzy's shoes (not an easy job, to say the least). The vocal range here is impressive, and suggests that Rampage will be able to handle just about any style in the future.
The cover of "The Wrath of Satan's Whore" is a bit of a new take on this Countess classic. Wisely, Rampage doesn't try to reproduce the vocal performance of the original. Instead, the vocals are double-tracked, one clear and one distorted. This gives the song a strange, off-kilter feel, very cool. The music is pretty much perfect, nicely capturing both the slow majesty and sudden rage of the original.
I like the new direction Rampage is taking on this release. I have to admit, I'll mourn the aborted black metal album, since that's my preferred listening style, but "Displeasures of the Flesh" is a great EP. If this is where Rampage is going, I'll be glad to follow them there. Recommended.
Standout Tracks: "Displeasures of the Flesh"