Italy has a fine tradition regarding horror inspired music and Doom Metal, finding its way back to the late seventies and early eighties with bands like Goblin, Black Hole, Death SS, Paul Chain and later the millennial Kings of horror, Abysmal Grief!
Since both Doom Metal and horror holds a special place in my heart since my early teens I was of course blown away when a new star arose on the Italian Doom Metal-heaven around 2010. Presenting them self with pictures of corpses, taken in the catacombs of Rome, instead of band photos, and only given away their names by initials, Black Oath created a mystic atmosphere that went along perfectly with their filthy occult doom, presented on a superb self titled EP and an equally superb single, “Portrait of the Dead”, creating the audio equivalent off such Giallo masterpieces as Lucio Fulcis “House by the Cemetery“ and Dario Argentos “Susperia”.
They continued with their gritty take on occult Doom on their first full length album “The Third Aeon” although, intentionally or not, taking it a bit to far, the record almost sounds out of tune sometimes but the following two albums took Black Oath in a new direction, sounding a lot more polished and even got the band some main stream metal press and some attention outside the small circle of dungeon dwellers like myself.
Black Oath’s new album, “Behold the Abyss” continues in the same tradition as their last two albums, perhaps being their most accessible recording up to date. Although clearly bearing the special vibe of Black Oath, the music sounds extremely well produced with beautiful harmonies, guitar solos and even some female vocals in the emotional semi-ballad “Death Once Sang”. The music is mostly based on, more or less, clean picking guitar and the beautiful vocal melodies of “A. Th”, but there is also plenty of heavy stuff, and that ever present slightly odd feeling, because this is still a Doom Metal-album and this is still Black Oath!
Although there are few pure Heavy Metal-parts on the album that isn’t that original, nor exciting, “Behold the Abyss” is a worthy contribution to the Black Oath-catalogue and even if I miss the strange, dirty sound of their early releases, and the fact that you no longer can tell that “A. Th” clearly is an Italian vocalist, I understand that this is a development a band must undertake to avoid dwelling in the catacombs of obscurity forever, but if your into Doom Metal in general, and tends to like the Italian touch on the genre with bands like Thunderstorm and the earlier mentioned Abysmal Grief I’m sure you’re gonna love “Behold the Abyss”,at least I know I do!
Artist: Black Oath
Title: Behold the Abyss
Label: High Roller Records
Date of release: 16/11-18
Playing time: 41:25
Stand out track: Lilith Black Moon