Sacred Oath – Twelve Bells (Angel Thorne)Sunday, 14th May 2017
Relatively local to this scribe’s current stomping grounds, Sacred Oath continue to strive for that balance of old school/new school power metal when it comes to their output. Twelve Bells as the latest full-length comes off 2015’s modern rock-ish at times Ravensong effort that was mildly satisfying – so one can only hope the quartet stick to their guns and issue another quality release from the heart. After a few passes, it becomes clear that the band chose to emphasize more of their classic strengths this go around- making the ten-song outing more pleasurable to those who enjoy Maiden-esque hooks and power rhythm section workouts against mid-range to slightly higher melodies.
“New Religion” as an opener features a semi-gallop riff with intertwining spider web lead action, sprinting bass, and a steady double bass foundation that fits right in with Rhoads-era Ozzy if taken into a US power metal direction – Rob Thorne’s vocals still sitting in a clearer Ace Frehley phrase mold (although the Auto-Tune section seems unnecessary). Those that desire a straightforward mid-tempo crusher look no further than “Demon Ize” – fierce vocals and a confident guitar hook bringing me back to Powerslave glory days. Sacred Oath favor an approach that occasionally explores longer eight to nine-minute arrangements with extended instrumental action to showcase musicianship abilities. It’s not beyond their capabilities for “Well of Souls” and “The Last Word” to elevate their twin guitar chops while bassist Brendan Kelleher and drummer Kenny Evans flex their progressive nuances a la the best 70’s and 80’s musicians, giving the listener plenty of ideas to digest in deeper playbacks. The modern rhyme schemes, staccato-ish heaviness and simplified/shouted choruses flair up time to time for “Bionic” and “Eat the Young” – but not at the detriment of quality songwriting and properly executed lead action.
Twelve Bells proves there’s plenty left in the Sacred Oath creative tank – hopefully the listeners understand that the four-piece has one foot in their collective old school power/traditional metal influence bank, but the other always seeking out new pastures.