Sacred Oath have been around a while, their debut album (A Crystal Vision) being released in 1988. Originally formed while the band members were all high school students in Connecticut, Rob Thorne (vocals/guitars) and Kenny “Thundarr” Evans (drums) are the only remaining original members. Joined by Bill Smith (2007, guitar) and Brendan Kelleher (2009, bass) these four mark the current lineup on their new album ‘Twelve Bells’ which is released on May 12th 2017 via Angel Thorne Music.
It’s very hard to know what to make of Sacred Oath at the start of Twelve Bells. Opening song, New Religion starts with a kind of chant that is heavily computerised to such an extent that it sounds absolutely terrible. It then kicks into some great guitar wails & screeches before really getting going with some nice riffs.
Unfortunately it goes on a little bit too long & the vocals don’t sit comfortably alongside the rocking hooks & beats. That ‘at odds’ sounds continues into the title track, Twelve Bells however here the delivery is in a much more refined way.
Things continue to improve as song after song deliver strong metal riffs, memorable hooks & plenty of vocal highs. Bionic is a particularly strong point with some really catchy beats & an exciting solo playing behind some seriously fun vocal wails.
The ballad, Never and Forever coming at the halfway point threatens to derail things though. It’s got some nice opening acoustic guitar strumming but beyond that it’s very forgettable. Its positioning feels off, slapped in between two pacey & great sounding tracks, Bionic & Demon Ize.
Being just over an hour long but with only 10 tracks, Twelve Bells has quite a few lengthy songs none more obvious then the 8 minute Well of Souls. It’s hard to see how it can keep the interest up at first as it fires of just some decent rock riffs & a gang-chant behind the main vocals. However near the halfway point it changes direction in a way that makes you sit up & take notice. A softer edge with soaring vocals & wailing guitars, it’s pretty amazing.
The album finishes off with the double header of up-tempo rocking tracks. Eat the Young & No Man’s Land before The Last Word sees things out in epic fashion. A slow, brooding song that comes in at over 9 minutes. The longest track, its sharp guitar melody stands out against the drifty & warming vocals. It’s a good finale to an album that gets absolutely loads right.
Hard rock riffs & enough hooks to please a Cenobite, its vocals might take a few songs to get used too but they fit the songs well. Where Twelve Bells trips up is with its solid bit unmemorable moments & there are a few too many of them.
Sacred Oath – Twelve Bells Full Track Listing:
1. New Religion
2. Twelve Bells
3. Fighter’s Heart
5. Never and Forever
6. Demon Ize
7. Well of Souls
8. Eat the Young
9. No Man’s Land
10. The Last Word
Twelve Bells can be picked up via Bandcamp here & will be available via most major streaming/music platforms. You can find out more about Sacred Oath over on their website here, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace & ReverbNation.
Sacred Oath - Twelve Bells (Angel Thorne Music)
The Final Score - 7/10
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