The Oath


Written by: EW on 14/09/2008 21:55:46

I've said this before and I'll say it again - France has always under-represented itself in the world of rock and metal since the dawn of its creation (rock and metal, that is). Whilst a burgeoning extreme underground has bubbled up of late, it is Gojira who have been the first to really put French metal on the map, and expect to hear much more from them soon with the release of "The Way Of All Flesh". But in the mean time savour the blackened death metal (or should it be deathed-up black metal?) attack from The Oath, upon us with "4", their second full-length opus since a formation back in 1999. French they do not sound, instead straddling the borders of Norwegian BM, American Thrash and a touch of Polish DM just for that cosmopolitan feel which that frog-eating beret-wearing nation (I'm sorry, I couldn't help it) seems to value in themselves.

There is much to be said for bands and albums that don't know which style to settle in; for some it is an earned freedom from the shackles of artistic confinement, in others the feel is more of indecisiveness in not knowing what is best for them. The Oath fall somewhere in between these two parallels, neither sounding restricted to the demanding requirements of some extreme metal scenes but not always appearing to be totally content with the direction they have chosen for themselves. Note the orchestral-sounding synth regimented by Emperor and Children of Bodom, found to be leading the charge for much of "4", sometimes purposeful and beneficial ("Dead Inside"), at others insultory and depreciative of other efforts on the album ("Unholy Blood"). The vocals throughout tend to be harsh BM shrieks, think Gorgoroth or Dimmu Borgir, with forays into DM grunts (successful) and clean vocals (unsuccessful, as evidenced in "A Question Of Faith"), however it is the instinctive lead riffwork of guitarists Drako and D444 which is required to keep The Oath's collective head above water under a sea of synth scene-setting. More than being a piece however to counteract negative aspects, the riffwork in the likes of "Godless Existence" draws comparisons to Norwegian black/folk band Windir and by such a comparison alone garners extra appreciation towards "4" from this writer through a shared understanding of the benefits of intelligent guitar and keyboard interplay.

The Oath have made the noticeable effort to mix up songs, structures and styles on "4" to avoid sinking into the mass of similarly positioned bands from all around the world and it is this effort that generates much of the mark awarded to them. As you might expect for any band this side of 'perfection', it doesn't always work but credit goes out to The Oath for attempting the Dimmu Borgir synth to such an intensity, allowing themselves to stand or fall by the performance of their chosen lead instrument. For those who like their Metal aggressive and petulant yet sprinkled with synth fairy dust The Oath might well be a band for you.

Download: Dead Inside, Godless Existence
For The Fans Of: Dissection, Dimmu Borgir, Emperor
Listen: Myspace

Release date 02.10.2008

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