Sacred Oath actually recorded their (largely overlooked) debut right back in 1987! They retain their original Vocalist/Guitarist and Drummer, are American, and dubbed as Power Metal. But straight away that European/American definition of Power Metal rears it’s head and I am forced to be really geeky and define which area of Power Metal we are actually dealing with. I realize many people out there didn’t even think (or care) that there were differences within the genre, and this may make it sound like I haven’t left my house since 1995 but I will carry on regardless.
Sacred Oath’s “Fallen” (their 6th full-length studio release to date) is a good example of the Atlantic Power Metal Divide (The APMD – It’s like the NWOBHM, but much less interesting and generally no-one really seems to give a toss…). Iced Earth are American and are Power Metal. Helloween are German and are Power Metal – Two random examples that I feel sound quite dissimilar. I also offer that Queensryche, Crimson Glory and Riot were called power metal in the States in the 80’s (the era that gave birth to the genre), yet in Europe it was Gamma Ray, Running Wild, Scanner etc. This trend has continued (with a few exceptions) for the last 20 odd years. So can we all accept that even to the untrained Power-Ear the two global definitions are different?
For fear of my review now falling flat on it’s arse I will take that as a Yes.
I bore the crap out of you all for good reason though, because Sacred Oath, intentionally or by fluke have managed to bridge the two at times…which, finally, shows why I was waffling on about it so much earlier! We got there in the end people, thank you for your patience…
For instance, Second Track ‘The Way Of All Flesh’ (all epic 7 minutes of it) really reminds me of German Prog/Power Metallers Mind Odyssey in it’s musical arrangement and vocal delivery. This band is a comparison that crops up throughout “Fallen”. Other tracks seem to incorporate elements of mid-Nineties (and also German) Heaven’s Gate (‘Death Knell’ in particular). The State-side feel gets a look-in with ‘Snake Eyes’ – sounding as it does of Holy Mother, with audible comparisons from Jag Panzer to Radakka (if anyone remembers them?) cropping up on many an occasion within the choppy guitar breaks, riffs and time changes. All this does help to make “Fallen” a really varied Power Metal album, both vocally and musically.
But Andy, you missed out opener ‘King Of Your World’! Unfortunately this song (especially the verse), and also later track ‘Lurking Fear’, seem intent on reminding us that America also gave the world Nu-Metal and have vocal elements/arrangements that really need to stay in that genre (Nu-Power Metal?…shudder!). Really not sure what the band were trying to do here, but in fairness, one of their endearing qualities is that they do have a tendency to root through the old toy-box and chuck in anything they fancy at times. It always keeps the listener guessing – there’s a really nice acoustic guitar piece (‘Aradia’) and the title track incorporates Latin Chants (there was a time when it seemed like every other Power Metal CD had them on it somewhere) that probably seem a little out of place in the context of the song, but I’m sure others will feel they work fine, giving the track a more epic feel.
In summary, I have to admit “Fallen” is a more intriguing listen than face value offers, but have I actually been too analytical? Is this just opening up more debate on the differences between European and American Power Metal? Did everyone left reading this review just shout “Good God NO!!” in unison? Is every other Ave Noctum writer mentally trying to remove my computer and throw it from the nearest window just to make this review end? Fair point. I’ll be huddled in that dark corner over there…
(6/10 – Andy Barker)