The Third Aeon
posted on 5/2011 By:
Formed in 2006, Black Oath is an Italian doom metal band heavily influenced by all things occult and ominous. Their Myspace declares in blaring capital letters, “DON’T EXPECT NOTHING ELSE BUT OCCULT HEAVY DOOM ROCK SOUND AT ITS BEST!” For the most part, their debut full-length album delivers upon this proclamation. Black Oath describes their sound as “the soundtrack to your funeral”, which may seem a bit presumptuous, but proves a resonant definition after listening to the material. The Third Aeon sounds like a sludgy and deliberate homage to Candlemass, with simple, driving riffs and mournful vocals set prominently in the mix. The album clocks in a few seconds shy of forty-five minutes, and it’s a strong and cohesive effort.
One of the most commendable features of the album is the trio’s use of keyboards. The layers of church organ sound add to the already sinister and shadowy textures of each song, and thankfully Black Oath has managed to not overuse this effective instrumentation. Their approach to doom metal is steeped in tradition, and while it may lack innovation, The Third Aeon is a stellar example of the genre. Melodic and anguished vocals rise above the crushing waves of sound, and the keyboards bathe each track with a gloomy and sorrowful atmosphere.
While The Third Aeon is an impressive debut, there is undeniably room for improvement. Many of the compelling keyboard sections are faint and incoherent at times, and churning guitars take center stage over potentially magnificent melodic moments. Despite this occasional problem, the keyboards reach a pinnacle of excellence on the tracks “Death As Liberation” and “Evil Sorcerer”. Each song possesses dynamic changes in tone, but unfortunately their songwriting veers towards the formulaic. The album seemingly goes through the same destined rise and fall, without many variations on structure. An exception is the final tune, “The Black Oath”, where quicker sections recall Cathedral and enhance the complexity of the music by escaping the repetition so prevalent on preceding tracks.
Overall, doom metal fans will be satisfied with this album. While Black Oath lacks the maturity of more established predecessors, The Third Aeon is still undoubtedly a promising release. The band has achieved an epic sound tinged with horror and soaked with despair, no easy feat for a group that has only just released their first full-length. After listening to The Third Aeon, the mood is that of desolation and grief, which is precisely what Black Oath seems to be striving for.
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