If you blink you’ll miss it, goes the old joke about small towns. The same could be said about Ramidus, a metal band from the small(er) city of Goshen, Indiana. A five-piece troupe consisting of veterans of the local music scene, the band was conceived in 2010 mostly as a lark, a creative project its members could get together and work on to blow off steam once a week.
Something of an anomaly in their primarily bluegrass/folky local music scene, Ramidus only played one live gig, at the Courthouse Pub in Goshen in 2012, before going on indefinite hiatus towards the end of 2014. The only relic from their truncated existence, save a Facebook page and some T-shirts, is their eponymous debut album, available for free download at secundine.com/ramidus.
The band’s name comes from an early, chimpanzee-like hominid, Ardipithecus ramidus, a creature that lived 4.4 million years ago, during the early Pliocine era, but was only discovered in 1994. Looking at the band’s logo, it may first appear to be a monstrous version of a human skull; it’s actually the fossil skull of its namesake, the ramidus, which is actually nicknamed Ardi from its genus name.
Speaking of their graphic art, it may remind you of Glenn Danzig’s early cover art. That’s fitting, because these guys played old-school metal, a dark and moody amalgam of blues-based music made up of doom, thrash, and power metal elements. It’s a sound that recalls early metal names like Danzig or Ronnie James Dio, foregoing elements that are de rigeur in contemporary metal bands, like double bass thumping and guttural vocals. Their name is fitting as well, coming across as a primordial entity that might just clobber you over the head with a rock (though the band may do so figuratively).
Much of Ramidus is delivered in a slow to mid-tempo, deliberate groove that typically starts off strong and delivers some unexpected finnesse. Prime example: “Blood Reign” starts off as a lilting elegy but halfway through morphs in the blink of an eye into a blackened, Sabbath-esque dirge. Similarly, the meaty, thrash-y chug of the second half of the semi-epic “Bella” will have old school metalheads nodding in assent. Album closer “Bastard Kings” may just be their apogee, stretching out to a near six minutes and highlighting all of the band’s strengths: robust sonic and tempo shifts, a hypnotic groove and scorching dual guitar dynamics.
You may have missed them during their brief public existence, but with their album available freely on the internet (in which everything lives forever), perhaps this under-represented band will have a shot at a healthy afterlife.