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RAM's Oscar Carlquist: "The general idea that we wanted to get across with it was mainly just that we don’t play by the rules, we are music biz renegades, outlaws out of control, too metal for the system"

Interview with Oscar Carlquist from RAM
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 28 August 2019, 9:56 PM

Metal is not just a genre of music; it is a way of life. I think there are more than merely a handful of people that know that, some of them living the life of the ultimate Metalhead. Kind of mysterious. The Swedish Traditional Metal devotees, RAM, have been clinging to the old altar of the music, continuing to believe the in the genuine magic that this genre has been spreading. Celebrating their new album "The Throne Within", Steinmetal talked to Oscar of the band regarding the new release, the true feeling of Heavy Metal, philosophy and more  

Greetings Oscar, awesome that you had the time for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine. How have you been doing mate?

I have been doing fine, some hectic days so close to the release with music video production and interviews and this time around even tour planning and promotion. So a lot to do, but it's all necessary.

We are coming in faster towards RAM’s next in line output, “The Throne Within”, once again via Metal Blade Records. Honestly, I tried understanding the title, and I fell short. Can you assist me please? What is it all about?

It’s a kind of personal title for me its about some of my spiritual practices. It dates back to the "Lightbringer" album and since it is "Lightbringer"'s 10th anniversary I went back to the lyric of the song "Titan" and took the title from there to make a mark for myself regarding my spiritual development for the last 10 years.

I just finished watching your latest video, “Blades Of Betrayal”. In overall, I think I understood the concept, especially with the inner wish for the mainstream to get to know the true nature and quality, or mainly that need nowadays to get yourself heard when one is coming from the underground. Generally, is this what “The Throne Within” presents or am I missing the point here?

The title “The Throne Within” really doesn’t have anything to do with that but you bring up a fun point about what the video could be about. The general idea that we wanted to get across with it was mainly just that we don’t play by the rules, we are music biz renegades, outlaws out of control, too metal for the system.

Why initially deciding on “Blades Of Betrayal” to be the fully shot video? What is your appreciation of that song?

It’s a smoker, a fast song that is truly Heavy Metal to the core and with a great catchy chorus. Its also a short song, most of the songs on the album are quite long and long songs are always more of a pain to make videos for, those extra minutes are times 10 in hours to film. I think the song is a perfect single, it’s a straight to the point, RAM as fuck, Heavy Metal song.

Striding between a vengeful spirit of old school Heavy Metal and Epic, storytelling driven, Metal, musically based on NWOBHM yet with a sharp edged tip of the sword, is this what to be expected from RAM on “The Throne Within”? Are there more surprises for future listeners?

I would say that we have pushed the envelope just a little bit but we are still very consistent, it is a RAM record no doubt about it, but it is very diverse as all our records to date have been. We try to think like we are making a movie when we assemble the songs for an album and we always limit ourselves to the vinyl format, so a movie in 2 acts. And for a movie to be interesting the different parts have to differ from each other quite dramatically. Since we have again followed the same formula RAM fans won't be especially surprised, first time listeners might be though.

In your view, would you say that RAM made a step forward with “The Throne Within” in its musical development or did it rather remain true to its essentials, portraying the same musical framework but in different colors?

We get better and better at everything we do, its natural because we get more experience and I can hear that clearly on this album, I think we surpassed a stepping stone in many aspects of our art with this record but its all in the details. We still go to the same place as we did before writing songs for our very first release the “Sudden Impact” E.P, we still have the same influences and still view our musicality in very much the same way as we did back then. We will continue to go back there until all the things we talked about that we wanted to do in the beginning have been done, then we might change something but I would say that we can write at least 6 more albums using the same formula.

How would you describe the songwriting process on the new record? Have you sought to make changes in how you do things in the studio while writing material?

We wrote this album in the same way as we written most of our albums, the only album that differs a bit in that manner is the ROD album that we wrote in 1.5 months. This record was written over the span of one year. What we do is that we start with a riff or a melody and we feel it, see what emotions it brings, if it does not bring an emotion we discard it. After “feeling it in” I give it a title suitable with the emotion it invoked so that the rest of the song will follow that path. Then we work on music and lyrics simultaneously.

Which of the album’s tracks you can deem as your favorite? That track that made your vision for this release coming true?

My favorite song of the album is the song “Ravnfell”, I think it’s the best song we ever wrote. It is a very epic and quite heavy song with a great riff as its backbone. Not more for me to say really I love that song to death.

Looking sideways in the worldwide Metal scene, there has been quite a rise in the exports of modernized Metal. Though RAM has been there where the first revival wave of Traditional Metal began, do you feel that the attention of Metalheads is slowly turning elsewhere, leaving aside old school Metal music in favor of the new emerging Metal subgenres? Do you think that Traditional Metal will eventually survive the test of time?

This is an interesting topic. The “second wave” of the Heavy Metal sound, established by bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Ozzy Osbourne one can see as the crystallization of the Heavy Metal sound, as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Uriah Heep through a musical alchemy, blending blues with sacral and neo classical elements gave birth to it. This crystallization sound, the first evolution of Heavy Metal became the foundation for all other versions of the sound to follow and it is the basis for the Heavy Metal scene today.

RAM are traditionalists, we hail to that school. Now this last year I have heard a lot of people express their fears of the end of the grand days of Heavy Metal due to the fact that so many artists are doing their farewell tours and reaching the end of their careers. This fear is justified because this crystallized sound is vital for the stability of the rest of the scene, it is the reflection point in the middle so to speak. And the scene and strong business forces within the scene should be looking for the heirs to that sound, wardens of the true metal spirit so to speak in order to save Metal as we know it instead of just saying “well it was fun as long as it lasted”, because the styles that have come after the “crystallized” sound are just not strong enough or centered enough to hold the rest of the scene on its back.

Studies showed that Heavy Metal music is actually good for the soul, calms the nerves to a certain extent. At first, it was hard to fathom, yet I guess that is can serve as a stress reliever. What I am asking is, aren’t we supposed to be raging, angry, the opposite of what has been argued?

Heavy Metal is release, it is catharsis. It takes you through fire, blood, death and hell but with vitality and undying force. The true adept of Heavy Metal will take this inner journey, this trial and come out stronger and more experienced on the other side, this will create a feeling of fulfillment that in turn will create the feelings you mentioned.

You have a tour coming up with Vulture and Indian Nightmare, have you ever played with these bands? What are your expectations out of this tour?

We never played with any of them before but I think that Vulture is definitely one of the best new bands to emerge for a very long time, so I was really happy to first become label mates with them and now go on tour. This tour will be chaos; I think that the aggression will hit the ceiling at these shows.

Any additional touring plans for next year?

A mini tour of Spain and Portugal is in the tubes but nothing is confirmed yet.

Oscar, I wish to thank you for this interview. Your crispy sound and amazing vintage qualities in the music are simply amazing. Keep up the good work! Cheers mate

Thanks for the interview! BANG YOUR HEAD OR LOSE IT!



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