Oscar Carlquist: Vocals
Morgan Pettersson: Drums
Harry Granroth: Guitar
Martin Jonsson: Guitar
Tobias Petterson: Bass
There can be few better ways to mark the 20th anniversary of your band than releasing the finest record of your career. In RAM's instance this comes in the form of The Throne Within, the Swedish quintet upping their game across the board to deliver a record with deep roots in classic heavy metal but wielding an energy and freshness to it that places it very much in the now. "It is unmistakable RAM, there are fast songs, heavy songs, mid tempo and slower tempos as well. There's melody and there's grit. The arrangements are recognizable but some may be unorthodox," states founding guitarist Harry Granroth. "We wrote songs with no particular type of record in mind. Sometimes you have a clear picture, sometimes you don't, and this time we just got together and started writing and saw where that took us."
Fans of the band are sure to be hooked from the moment epic opener "The Shadowwork" explodes to life with a scything riff, making it clear that in 2019 RAM are playing at full force. Whether they're flexing their muscles and throwing their weight around as on "Fang And Fur" or pouring on the urgency with the likes of "No Refuge" and "Violence (Is Golden)" this is a no-nonsense record, shot through with soaring choruses, towering hooks, and the kind of killer shredding that will give budding air guitarists a serious workout. Recorded at their own Black Path Studios and self-produced, the sessions went smoothly but were a lot of hard work, their efforts clearly paying off. "I don't think that we as a group feel we have something to prove. This is probably on a more personal level - that you are still able to churn out some cool riffs, come up with a good melody, lyrics or whatever. Of course we would like to achieve many things but that is not a question of proving anything."
Unlike 2017's stunning Rod there is no concept unifying the lyrics, each song speaking for itself, and coming from dark places. As suggested by the title, "Blades Of Betrayal" tells the story of a great betrayal by somebody close, while "You All Leave" is about suicide, "the questions, loss and emptiness that come with this. This is something that one hopes that you never have to experience," and "Fang And Fur" is "about this super-pack of wolves attacking a wedding party, an incident that happened on the Russian tundra." Vocally, Oscar Carlquist delivers every line with his signature style, pushing himself to give the best possible performance, and Alan Averill of Primordial also features on dramatic closer "Ravnfell", the two vocalists sounding commanding alongside each other.
The two-decade anniversary is of course a great achievement of which the band are proud. "It feels great. I would say it's quite an effort to keep it together for such a long time, and I don't think anyone involved would have imagined this to be a mission of that length. Hopefully we'll have the strength to keep going if not twenty more at least ten. Who knows?" Asked what advice he would give to himself when the band was just starting out the guitarist doesn't mince words: "Do your thing and don't follow trends and never stray from the black path. Stay metal."