Sacred Oath: Darkness Visible
Sacred Oath - Darkness Visible - [Sentinal Steel Records]


Connecticut's Sacred Oath are one band that certainly deserves the term "cult". They've been around since 1984, released one album prior to this one – 1987's "A Crystal Vision" – and then seemingly disappeared into the annals of metal history.

Now they're back, and for once, the term "classic power metal" actually fits. These guys have created here, in their second release, some of the best traditional power metal I've listened to in quite a while. Usually when a band is said to be influenced by classic metal bands such as Iron Maiden and Mercyful Fate it just means they sound dated and don’t have a third of the talent these giants used to have, but here, it's actually well-founded. The band combines classic Iron Maiden harmony riffs with quick tempo changes and fine melodic flourishes that Mercyful Fate was among the few to do well.

The opener – "Words Upon The Stone" – opens with a great Maiden riff, it remains instrumental for the first 2 minutes, and then the real song charges on. Vocalist/guitarist Rob Thorne has one of the best melodic voices currently active in the American metal scene, he comes off as a combination of Bruce Dickinson in his air-raid siren days, with some Rob Halford screams thrown in as well, and his presentation on the opener is nothing short of brilliant. In the second more up-tempo track "Battle Cry" his delivery is even higher pitched, King Diamond comes to mind, but the music around him keeps up as well. Fantastic guitar leads all over the place, strong double-bass drumming and Steve Harris-like bass lines.

The album is quite raw sounding, not overly clean and crisp, and this is the right sound for this music, the drums really pack a punch, the bass is high in the mix. This is the right sound to make the music sound as dynamic as it deserves to sound.

"Queen Of The Night" is an epic metal masterpiece, plenty of rhythm changes, some great riffs, a short acoustic segment thrown in before the band goes on into a lengthy twin-guitar lead assault…so many of today's younger metal bands should really listen to this, this is the kind of thing power metal is supposed to be. The driving second part of "Calm Before The Storm" is another winner, fast riffing and a great Wah-Wah lead that is among the best on the album. It's just pure, very-well-done metal.

The more I listen to this album the more I'm certain this band is one of the best American metal bands active today, it might be because they had 20 years to gather the material for this release, but this amount of talent and intelligent song-writing can't be faked. These guys just know their shit really well, and I hope this time they'll keep on going, cause this one goes straight into my list of the best metal albums of 2007.

Alon Miasnikov

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