Rampart is a Bulgarian heavy metal band formed around vocalist Maria Diese in 2006 and I admittedly hadn’t heard of them until sitting down to listen to their latest album, “Codex Metalum.”
Clearly, Diese has mastered the art of singing in the NWOBHM style. Her voice is nearly indistinguishable from other male vocalists in the same genre. Rampart’s latest offering, however, has quite a bit more to offer than your average traditional heavy metal album. “Codex” is a complicated full-length filled with variation. And we’ve got some serious guitar and drum work here.
Depending on the track, you may be hit with heavy riffage or guided through soaring soundscapes of melodic singing and instrumentation. “Metal Code,” for example, opens up with an excellent riff before being joined by another down-tuned guitar and dropping into a crushing onslaught of pure headbanging goodness. It’s a surprisingly heavy track that’s as mosh-inducing as any I’ve heard. The next track “Of Nightfall,” however, is a soft ballad. Each track is something new – some fast and others offering a slower groove. I didn’t mind the variation, though, and thought the order and pacing of the album is well done.
This is due in part to Diese’s vocals, which form the backbone of the band and remain a strong mainstay throughout each song. The differentiation in sound from an instrumental standpoint makes it a little difficult to qualify Rampart as any one particular genre. I would argue traditional heavy metal with thrash influences. But that really doesn’t matter. The bottom line: overall, “Codex Metallum” is a solid album that any metal fan should enjoy.
My only gripe would be the recording effects used on Diese’s voice at times during the album – the first vocals you hear on the opening track are an example. I think it may have been an attempt to make Diese sound computerized, but it just comes across as cheap-sounding. A voice like that doesn’t need any enhancement!
At any rate, give “Codex Metalum” a listen. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Release date: 08-04-2016
Reviewer: Chase Lindley