EP Premiere: Riders of Rohan – ‘With Hope or Without’

Metal

Riders of Rohan do not fit neatly into metal, and they are better for it. The idiosyncratic Swedish rock trio is themed around the Tolkien universe, feature multiple lead singers, and are sonically so proto-metal oriented that they were blacklisted and removed from Metallum. Following their release of their self-titled 2022 debut, Riders are ready to unveil the morose With Hope or Without EP. To learn more, we caught up with riders Tim, Stickan and Lisa, who “got a bit Freudo-Tolkienist.” Read about their heady themes while revelling in the glory of the jaunty, strange little EP which features a brilliantly re-conceptualized cover of Thin Lizzy’s “Cowboy Song” now dubbed “Ranger Song.”

“Hope (or the absence thereof) is a theme in The Lord of the Rings that we resonate with, and that makes for good storytelling. Love, loyalty and sticking to one’s convictions are all expressions of how, thematically, the characters in Tolkien’s books navigate the hope/despair dialectic. The title is paraphrasing Aragorn, but we allowed ourselves to put the words in Théodens mouth on “Evermind” for his seriously questionable, very Iron Age way of feeding the youth of the tribe to the flames of his death drive in a war that couldn’t be won,” they say.

“We’ve moved into more associative lyrical themes and at least two of the songs (“If I Could Love” and “Giving Up the West”) try a less overt, or perhaps more subjective, address than what we did on the first release. From the point of view of the characters — especially if we include people from other Tolkien works such as the Silmarillion — there’s a lot the reader is never told (and seeing as how some of these guys live for fucking ages, literally, that’s a capital A capital LOT). A bunch of reasonably imaginative nerds such as ourselves can have a good time exploring the blanks while still keeping it (mostly) canon. We’re not explicitly told that Maiar have daddy issues, but we’re not told they can’t have them, either.”

“As for Tolkien’s case for monarchy as a pretty rad way of governance, there’s plenty more material for thirsty bangers about one son of Arathorn without leaving the literal! (God, Tolkien would have hated us.)”

Originally Posted Here

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