In twenty years of activity and six full-length albums to their name, RAM hasn’t deviated all that far from their founding principles. The Swedes boast a core sound rooted in Judas Priest and Accept with occasional tinges of King Diamond, exerting a high octane take on traditional metal with subtle power metal inflections. Their latest album, The Throne Within, is essentially more of the same but there’s something about it that puts it above anything else they’ve done before.
For starters, their presentation is somehow even more powerful than it had already been. The production has a noticeable in your face quality, providing a bright polish and grit to the overall mix and giving the guitars some extra oomph. The vocals also show considerable compared to prior efforts, showing off a huskier delivery similar to Jean-Pierre Abboud of Traveler and Gatekeeper. The vocals were always the band’s biggest obstacle and I’m quite happy to see them excel here.
On top of that, the songwriting is also quite effective. It’s hard to tell if it’s due to the production or better-written hooks, but the songs are engaging in themselves while adding to a varied overall whole. Songs like “The Shadowwork” and “Violence (Is Golden)” are snappy speed runs, “Fang and Fur” and “Ravnfell” have a slight epic metal edge, and “The Trap” and “Spirit Reaper” are straight out of the eighties with their mid-tempo stomps and catchy as hell choruses. “You All Leave” also does a good job of presenting moody atmospherics with gorgeous leads, even if its halted pacing may induce whiplash for some listeners.
Overall, The Throne Within isn’t out to deviate from RAM’s classic metal formula but rather to improve upon it. It isn’t the most revolutionary album out there and I doubt it’ll have much appeal beyond the genre’s niche audience, but anybody who had passed the band up before should consider this an opportunity for reevaluation. The stronger performances and memorable songwriting really go a long way in making this their most striking effort since 2009’s Lightbringer. It’s great to see RAM sounding so inspired at this stage in their career and I can only hope that they keep it up!
“Fang and Fur”
“Violence (Is Golden)”