Well, alongside bands such as In Solitude, Portrait, Wolf or Bullet Sweden's Ram lead the pack of a new breed of fantastic Euro/Scandinavian Metal bands. They are a very busy live act, so their confidence practically growths from month to month. With their new album "Lightbringer" out, their songwriting finesse has also increased. However, singer Oscar does not see a strong connection between Ram's growing confidence on stage and their studio work: "I really don't know if it has influenced our songwriting. Playing live is Ram in the flesh, Ram in the approriate volume. Songwriting is the spirit of Ram, the contemplative side of it all." Elegantly put indeed. So where is the difference between the new album "Lightbringer" and Ram's earlier recordings? Oscar Carlquist reflects: "Well, 'Lightbringer' is the latest Ram album, we have once again tried to push the envelope regarding our sound and traditional Heavy Metal in general. I think that it is a very diverse and interesting album. It probably differs from our other albums because this time we were more familiar with our own sound and how we work in studio. We had more experience and that gave us a bigger platform to work from."
As briefly mentioned above, with Ram, In Solitude, Portrait and a couple of others there seems to be some kind of "New Wave of Traditional Metal". Is that how Oscar sees things as well? That seems to be the case: "Sure, all mentioned bands are immensly talented and involved in music for honest reasons. There is some form of small hype going on, but we don't care about that. I am sure that neither do In Solitude nor Portrait. Heavy Metal music is a lifestyle for us as it was back in the nineties when people would laugh at you for having a Dio T-shirt. Any serious artist keeps sales and trends out of his creative sphere, we are trying to make timeless music, that will be as good as it is now 30 years from now." It is a strange thing though that the most talented bands of this "New Wave of Traditional Metal" come from Scandinavia. How comes? Oscar knows: "There is a big musical tradition here, and there are public resources available if you become interested in music at an early age. Sweden also has a massive Metal underground with loads of bands, and that Metal underground is actually sparked with a touch of elitism, you can't just call yourself a Metal head without knowing your music, owning the records and going to the concerts."
There is barely a record or live review where Ram is not compared to Judas Priest. So is the band fed up with this comparsim by now? Do they think "Lightbringer" is still influenced by Priest (and if so by which period of the band)? Oscar's answer is honest down to the bone: For us not to be influenced by Judas Priest would be impossible. We have listened to that music for 25 years. It is my favourite band of all time. It doesn't bother me to be compared with them but it doesn't make me happy either. I try not to think in those terms, we just write music that we like and the end product happens to be traditional Heavy Metal that at times is somewhat British sounding. What can we do? You either like it or you don't. It's hard for me to say in what manner the 'Lightbringer' album would be influenced by Priest. I won't deny that the influence is there, but we have not tried to make a Judas Priest album. We work very hard to write original music within the Heavy Metal concept."
"Lightbringer" is already out on CD, so there surely have been reviews. That is indeed the case, as Oscar confirms: "They were all very positive, we made the top 20 best albums of 2009 in Sweden Rock magazine. And G-tz of Rock Hard magazine also wrote a good review for 'Lightbringer'. Rock Hard are treating Ram with great respect. All our releases so far have got mostly great reviews."