Italian doom merchants Black Oath have released their newest set of heavy hymns on Doomentia Records, and it is just shy of an hour of rumbling riff heaven, extorting the wonders and mysteries of witchcraft and occultism.
Melancholic piano opens ‘Donum Dei’, while thunder rumbles ominously in the background, setting the scene for the riffs to come. When the clean guitars of ‘Wicked Queen’ descend into this anthemic, Mercyful Fate crossed with Candlemass epicness, I’m instantly taken with the pure heavy metal spirit of it. There is a gloomy melancholy to it, but it feels like a lost 80s classic, rather than a new record. The prog rock stylings of ‘I Am Athanor’ mix with some crushing riffs and a powerful vocal performance from A.th that covers this whole release in a classy, gothic grandeur.
The riffs, the atmosphere, the awesome soulful doom vocals; Black Oath have the whole package here. Highlights include the churning ‘Mysterion’, the tantalisingly moody ‘Flesh to Gold’ and the ritualistic emanations of ‘Sermon Through Fire’. By the time we reach the final tracks, you are totally mesmerised by a band who’ve got everything spot on. The occult atmosphere isn’t over powering, although some of the later tracks are very Ghost in their delivery. The vocals are the best part, a voice that really encapsulates the doom being wrought from these guitars.
A great, accessible doom record from a band who should by all rights be massive, Black Oath have crafted a giant monolith of epic, melodic doom here, and it’ll be in my top ten records for 2015 for definite. Stunning.