posted on 5/2009 By:
There is a difference between a resurrection and a reunion. Both have their time and place in life and metal, and can either be done tastefully or not. Imagine for instance attending your 10th Annual High School Resurrection; or what a disgustingly lame and happy ending Alien: Reunion would have. A band reunion is usually fueled by fond memories, and even a poor one can play the nostalgia card and get away with it, but resurrection is a much bolder undertaking.
A pattern repeated by many notable metal bands, including Pestilence, Believer, and Cynic, Sacred Oath made their initial, important contribution to metal many a moon ago, broke up and reformed within the last few years to continue their work. In this case, it was a re-recording of the Connecticut Four’s 1987 cult classic A Crystal Vision that acted on the dormant rumblings of their fan base, leading the way to 2007’s acclaimed Darkness Visible, a live album from Europe the following year, and now a self-titled offering, that truly merits their resurrection.
This album is as traditional as it gets. It’s fasting for Ramadan, it’s circumcision, it’s playing golf in silly clothes - it’s birthday cake. It’s one of the most nonsense-free, fashionless, metallic albums to show up this year and is everything a band with a slightly dated, but iconic debut should do in 2009 to rekindle their flame, finally finishing the stepping stones of the last four years to cross the river of revival.
The production overhaul is definitely the underlying hero, meaning this band have finally been captured on record like they should. Musically, there is no doubt that this is more of the trusty Judas Priest and Mercyful Fate worship associated with Sacred Oath, the mixture of mid-range melodies and testicle-wrenching falsetto carefully aired by vocalist Rob Thorne and the textbook evil-speeding, demon-riffing and vintage-soloing handled again by Thorne and guitarist Bill Smith are illustrious and honorable, but there are most definitely a few additional influences under the old belt. The most notable being the Peace Sells… Megadeth influence, covering everything from the Mustaine vocal-snarl to the riffs, structure, solos, bass-presence and tone, turning up specifically for “Buried Alive” and “Caught in the Arc,” then bizarrely disappearing. Opener “Paradise Lost” and “Order of the System Lords” also have strange one-off tributes to 80’s Anthrax going on, but never sound outside of the Sacred Oath boundaries, feeling more like an innocent encompassing than anything to accuse them of.
Approaching the fourteenth and final track, this record does feel like it could have been shortened and sweetened with the exclusion of a few of the less fiery tracks, but there is nothing bad to say about the tuneful animation of the title track (yes, that’s “Sacred Oath” from Sacred Oath by Sacred Oath). But if you really want to feel this band and what they are about; get an earful of the brooding bastard that is “Counting Zeros” and Ladies and Gentleman the most metal song of 2009; “Blood Storm,” tearing distorted paths to a climactic chorus, accented perfectly with those half-time drum rhythms that make my gooses bump. And you know what? Sometimes you just can’t beat a guitar solo replicating the vocal-melody. It’s tradition.
Good honest bands never die, and it gives me hope that none of the spirit of metal’s formative years has been lost as we approach the end of the first decade of the millennium. I like to think the undying passion of the fans and metal’s timeless appeal is what has inspired these pioneers to return to what feels right for them, not because they need to show anyone how it’s done.
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