Sunday, 5 May 2013

Black Oath - Ov Qliphoth and Darkness - 91%

The Pinnacle of the New Dark Age – 91%

Black Oath's debut was really well received by the doom community and I was expecting their new album since a while. I must say it's not disappointing. Their take on doom metal is pretty damn interesting and it puts to shame the wannabe gloomy, sad and depressive bands. Influenced by a lot of different sounds, the band is not here to reinvent the wheel but they're truly making it spin.

Italy is often well known for its cheez whiz sword and sorcery pseudo metal, but their doom metal scene mustn't be forgotten. Black Oath is nourishing their music with the sounds of their ancestors like Dark Quarterer, Abysmal Grief or Black Hole. But Ov Qliphoth and Darkness is more influenced by the Northern Europe scene. There's a rampant Candlemass nod throughout the album and I must say this a better release than everything the Swedish horde did since at least 20 years. You can feel the same epic feel a band like Solstice has but with a darker presence. I thought the sophomore release was much more epic than the debut, but I realized it's because of its clearer and solid production. The guitar tone is a bit less crude and the mix between the guitars and the bass is more equal. It's a bit softer than The Third Aeon as well but I think the songwriting is stronger. If you're hungry for solid epic doom, look for no further, this release along with the new Procession are gonna be the jewels of 2013.

The fifty minutes album grabs you with its slow mournful hooks as soon as the album starts with his instrumental introduction. The first track is a prelude to the awesome Sabbathesque riffs of "..for His Coming". But the band is far from being a worshiper to the altar of the gods, they have their own sound with hints to the ancient ones. That's something I can't say a band like Orchid has.
I must say that the main element of this album is its atmosphere, all the songs are around 6 to 8 minutes and they can breathe and grow effectively. But the vocals are truly what makes this project exceptional, the clean delivery of their vocalist/guitarist is amazing and totally underrated. Hard to believe he was in Gosforth, a black metal band, before as he totally grasped the essence of what epic doom is. is a powerhouse and a good heir to Johan Längquist's empty throne. Comparable to Mik of Altar of Oblivion, he can convey true blissful emotions. He was also able to do that on the earlier releases but the production on Ov Qliphoth makes things smoother. Their first self titled EP had some solid songs but I was unable to really enjoy it because of the weak ass production. I reckon that I'm usually not difficult in terms of production in doom metal, but Ov Qliphoth really works and genuinely fits the musical approach of the trio.

Yes, the vocal delivery is amazing and it's the aspect I enjoyed the most, but the riffs, man, the riffs, are they great ? Yes ! The band is driven by slow to mid paced riffs and sometimes even faster moments like on the superb sixth track "Drakon, Its Shadow Upon Us". The album has a surprising variety of numbers. Handling sombre and slow tracks like the title track evoking the superb full length album of Griftegård. The band knows when to include some tasteful leads in their recipe (listen to the one in "Witch Night Curse"!) and they do it with subtlety. While there's different tempos, there's a real sense of unity amidst the record. It's perhaps not as dark as their previous releases but it's oh so much enjoyable. There's a spirit of restraint too, they know the songs can evolve in an epic manner, but they know when to edit their feelings and switch to something else, like an atmospheric introduction or a joyful instrumental break. While they're evolving in the somewhat stagnant traditional doom scene, Black Oath brings an epic doom approach intertwined with an aptness to break the boundaries of evil with their firm dark attitude. If you're an apostle of doom, you should already be ordering this. Ov Qliphoth and Darkness is the doom album of the year, gentlemen.

Check out 2 tracks here!

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Thanks to I Hate records for the promo copy!

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