Oxblood Forge – Decimator (Self-Released)

Sunday, 4th July 2021
Rating: 9/10

A staple of the New England metal scene, Oxblood Forge have been elevating their profile through smart gigging across the states and over to Canada– including performances opening for Conan, Unearthly Trance, and Manilla Road among others. Decimator is the quartet’s first full-length – a nine-song outing that includes a mix of original songs plus a NWOBHM cover track where you are able to experience all facets of the band’s doom-laden, traditional heavy metal wares. The sonic output and adherence to old school ethics plus execution ensure a dynamic front to back audio experience, one that features different nuances of appeal through repeated exposure.

The multi-faceted melodic range and shrieking/screaming additions from Ken MacKay vocally give lightning bolt fury to the lyrics he unleashes. He has both aspects come to life during the galloping mid-tempo power riffs that make “Forged in Fire” an easy highlight of the record – conjuring up everyone from a fierce David DeFeis (Virgin Steele) to a restrained Glenn Danzig depending on the verse/chorus he tackles. The musicians lay down a template that takes from doom, stoner, and traditional metal style-wise – decades of records to develop a sound that is authentic, pure, and heavy as hell. Knowing that they love Black Sabbath and Trouble, but also give fair warning that Iron Maiden, Satan, Judas Priest, or early Savatage factor into the mix as far as darker, brooding chord progressions and tight bottom end rhythm section mechanics. Tracks like “Mortal Salience” and “Into the Abyss” contain the requisite hooks and catchy refrains designed for hoisting beers, singalong audience participation, as well as mandated headbanging. Closer “Ironbound” as the longest track has that marching rollercoaster feel throughout its eight-minutes, containing a mountaintop narrative melodic aspect during the early verses, an instrumental mid-section that features bassist Greg Dellaria plus calmer keyboards and an extended lead break from guitarist Robb Lioy that would make all fans of Michael Schenker and Tony Iommi gleam.

Kudos for Oxblood Forge recognizing the expertise of Angel Witch by covering “Sorceress” from the self-titled debut record – a band that may not be top of mind from the NWOBHM days but deserves kudos for their moodier take on the scene. Along with a perfect visual representation of what to expect musically for the cover you’ll know Decimator delivers on the heavy metal scale, especially if you love 70’s/80’s style influences brought to life for the current fans that may have missed out on these bands the first time around.

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