September 9, 2019 RAM – The Throne Within (Album Review)
On Friday, September 13th, 2019, the collective bullet-belt of Heavy Metal music will receive a brand new set of rounds, as Swedish powerhouse RAM is set to deliver their sixth full-length album, The Throne Within, via the ever-prolific Metal Blade Records.
Picking up a head of steam over the course of the past half a decade, RAM is arguably at the forefront of a movement that is recalibrating traditional Power Metal. Far more aligned sonically with Judas Priest and Accept, the raw unpolished feel of RAM harks back to the glory days without feeling like a re-tread. Looking to follow-up their impressive 2017 Rod album strongly, and help celebrate their twentieth anniversary, does The Throne Within deliver?
“Blades of Betrayal,” a hook-laden romp of straightforwardness and attitude, follows the tension-building album opener “The Shadowwork” quite strongly. While the rough-edged, open chord riffing of Harry Gronrath and Martin Jonsson strike the listener in the gut, it is the massively gifted larynx of Oscar Carlquist that once more elevates RAM above a great deal of their competition. Part Halford, part King Diamond, yet also distinctive unto himself, the veteran singer turns in an elite performance that demands attention.
Where prior album, the aforementioned Rod, provided some longer, more concept-driven pieces, The Throne Within feels like a Rock-N-Roll record at its very heart. For example, “Fang and Fur,” a mid-paced romp, tells its story with vast chords and a pleasing interlude midway through that sets up a glorious finish. Album highlight “The Trap” exhibits a deliciously ballsy, ripping guitar tone and introduces a nice gang vocal to contrast with Carlquist’s massive voice. Here is a song that reaches right into the denim and leather heart of what this kind of music was always meant to be. The book isn’t being rewritten, and one can argue that we’ve heard it all before, somewhere – yet here RAM manage to freshen this tried and true style of Heavy Metal into something fans will not want to miss.
The Throne Within is a pretty consistent listen, however a couple of the tracks don’t quite manage to grab you by the throat. “Violence is Golden” and “No Refuge” display the elements RAM is so good at producing, but the impact is not as poignant. Not to worry, because “Spirit Reaper” comes out of the speakers and channels Pyromania era Def Leppard and early eighties Iron Maiden quite adeptly. When RAM hits they hit hard, and when one realizes how difficult it is to make an album that rivets through every moment, one can appreciate the care and quality on display with songs like “Spirit Reaper.”
Luckily for all involved, The Throne Within hits far more than it misses. Brooding, echoing, bereft of percussion, “You All Leave” is a departure from the formula, while the adventurous, twin-guitar harmonics of closer “Ravnfell” ensures the album ends on a fantastic note. Featuring the vocal talents of Alan “Nemtheanga” Averill of Primordial, this true metal juggernaut is guaranteed to stir the hearts of metal’s adherents. A robust, rousing chorus, gorgeous soloing, and seamless transitions over its duration make this song a perfect way to wind down the album.
Overall, RAM have managed to keep the bar raised high for their rapidly developing career. The new album bolsters a pageant of true Heavy Metal stalwarts leading the charge into this latest wind in the river of evolving extreme Rock-n-Roll sounds. That is why Cryptic Rock gives The Throne Within 4 out of 5 stars.
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