RAM – “The Throne Within”

Rating: 3.5/5
Distributor/label URL: https://www.metalblade.com/europe/
Released: 2019
Buy Album [URL]: http://ram-metal.com
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/RAMheavymetal

Band Lineup:

Oscar Carlquist: Vocals
Morgan Pettersson: Drums
Harry Granroth: Guitar
Martin Jonsson: Guitar
Tobias Petterson: Bass

Track Listing:
  1. The Shadowwork 6:37
  2. Blades of Betrayal 3:09
  3. Fang and Fur 5:48
  4. Violence (Is Golden) 3:54
  5. The Trap 4:35
  6. No Refuge 7:37
  7. Spirit Reaper 5:02
  8. You All Leave 5:51
  9. Ravnfell 6:34

RAM are a Swedish metal band (it is perhaps more “thrash metal”, but they seem more comfortable with “classic”), celebrating their 20th anniversary releasing this album The Throne Within, which they consider  “the finest of our career”. The Swedish quintet tried upping their game in order 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.”

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”. 

“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 the band’s preceding 2017 album “Rod” there was no concept unifying the lyrics, “Blades Of Betrayal” tells the story of a great betrayal by somebody close, whilst “You All Leave” is about suicide, and “Fang And Fur” is ….“about this super-pack of wolves attacking a wedding party, an incident that happened on the Russian tundra.”

Vocalist Oscar Carlquist delivers every line with Hetfield-esque punch and Alan Averill of Primordial features on the closing track “Ravnfell”, alongside Carlquist.

“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.”

Now…. let us address the elephant in the room. RAM sound just like Metallica. I mean to a remarkable extent. If they did covers of “Nothing Else Matters” or “Seek and Destroy” etc, they would sound almost indistinguishable from the originals! If RAM collectively woke up (a la the movie “Yesterday”) in an alternative universe where Metallica did not exist – they would be massive. However, rather unfortunately for them it is this universe.

Track Breakdown:

“The Shadowwork” – Intense guitar lick intro with power chords and multilayered guitars, then it’s into the body of the track. The vocals sound to all the world like Metallica’s James Hetfield.  It’s sometimes easy to forget you aren’t listening to Metallica. In fact I DID at one point when I was distracted! A very nice fade out at the end.

“Blades of Betrayal” – Some great riffing, they sound a little bit more like Judas Priest at this point – then in comes not-James Hetfield, and we are off again. Some good hefty drums. It’s still hard to decipher the lyrics, but they sound great. Great soloing. Some high screams on the final verse.

“Fang and Fur” – Much Slower. A really great riff! It is reminiscent of “Rock the Night” by RAM’s fellow countrymen- mid-80s hair-metal band “Europe” ! (RAM will probably not appreciate the comparison!) Some fairly standard drums, no blast beats etc. Solo guitar/vocal segment in the last third of the track, then right back into that great riff to lead us out.

“Violence (Is Golden)” – An interesting pun title. (A little mocking nod to “The Tremeloes” Silence is Golden)?  More good riffing and soloing. However at no point does this band NOT sound like Metallica.

“The Trap” – Straight into the chugging single chord, it sounds a little like the intro to “Doctor Doctor” by Robert Palmer! Then into another great riff.

“No Refuge” – Quiet solo guitar lick intro, cymbals, a rising sustained guitar then into the hardest, fastest, riffing yet. They almost sound metalcore or speed metal for a few moments, then the riffing slows down dramatically, returning to that pseudo-speed metal pace at times. Some really high shrieks on one later verse.

“Spirit Reaper” – This track is much more laid back. The intro is a (pseudo)-female spoken word intro. Much more laid back guitar here, but it picks up a little as it goes on. But they still sound like Metallica-no matter what they do! But there are far worse things to be.

“You All Leave” – This one is very quiet. A solo ‘prog style’ guitar intro… then the vocal comes in. Hard rock guitar comes in after a minute or so. Back to that quiet prog style. Occasional rock guitar chords. There are NO DRUMS until the last minute or so – then they do an extended coda almost. Fade out…. (only one on the album).

“Ravnfell” – Back to Thrashing! The drumming is almost 4 on the floor, it’s a little pedestrian sounding compared to the others, and the least inspired of all the tracks.

So to sum up, a pretty good classic/thrash-metal album. If they had a more distinctive sound and style I would give them more than just 3.5/5.

Reviewed by JASON STONE