The Oath – The Oath (Rise Above)

Monday, 24th March 2014
Rating: 7/10

Alas, the retro warriors of today have their female counterparts – time to hit the shower boys, your stank isn’t going to fly around the ladies of The Oath! Comprised of the German-Swedish duo of Johanna Sadonis (vocals) and Linnea Olsson (guitars), The Oath are the latest notch in the ever-widening retro metal belt, playing a blanket-style of mystical, dark, sub-metal, sort of like a miniature The Devil’s Blood, just without the awe-inspiring atmosphere, hummable attributes, and most of all, enthralling sound. That’s always important, if you’re picking up what we’re putting down.

We’ll start with Sadonis, who through the course of the album’s nine songs finds her preferred comfort zone and rarely strays from it. She can usually be found howling in the same key, which naturally, is established on opener “All Must Die,” and is repeated ad infinitum. Whereas The Devil’s Blood’s Farida Lemouchi (RIP her brother, by the way), can effectively contort her voice to match any setting or mood, the relatively hard-driving template of The Oath’s sound prompts little in terms of variation from Sadonis. The occasional fluctuation happens during the rocking “Silk Road,” and on parts of “Silver and Dust,” but really, her one-dimensional nature is the album’s ultimate hindrance.

Olsson’s riffs aren’t as regurgitated as one would initially think; she’s got some fancy licks on the above-mentioned “Silver and Dust,” making it the album’s standout cut, while the eerie guitar chimes of “Leaving Together” establishes an entirely different – and welcome – mood altogether. However, those thinking these ladies are the next big thing in the ever-hip retro metal derby are sadly mistaken. The Oath, while suitably competent and measurable, simply don’t have the one thing the top-tier bands of this sound have: Magic.

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