When I saw the blurb for this in the pile at Ave Noctum towers, (a huge obsidian castle, forever shrouded in fog and under perpetual moonlight – just outside Tooting Bec), I knew that I had to give it a listen. Doom with influences of classic heavy metal? Name checking Death SS and Paul Chain as influences? I therefore undertook the requisite ritual to request the album to review from Thee Ed (which, in this case, was an email), and have been listening to this six tracker for the best part of the last fortnight.
So how is it? More Paul Chain or Pull-chain? Actually, “Behold the Abyss” is a cracking little album. I hadn’t heard of this Milanese three piece before, though they’ve been releasing music since their first EP way back in 2009. What’s apparent immediately upon putting this beast through the stereo, is how steeped they are in classic tones. Opener and title track “Behold the Abyss” has the ominous rumble and gravitas of Candlemass, though with more of a classic Blizzard of Oz-era Osbourne approach to guitar tone. There’s more than a touch of the progressive to be found here among the traditional doom metal riffing, with hints of Goblin in the song writing. “Chants of Aradia” is probably the most out and out doom track on the album, with the exquisite mix of downbeat, chunky riffing, simple-but effective drum work and Leif Edling-esque bass wizardry. In fact, vocalist and guitarist erm…”A.Th” has a vocal approach that really reminds me of Rob Lowe with his Candlemass work.
“Lilith Black Moon” was, I thought, probably the least inspired track on the album, for the most part being a by-the-numbers doom track, though at around the 2/3 mark, it does break out into slightly more interesting proggy waters, with a flurry of drum activity and a few time changes. “Once Death Sang”, the shortest track on the platter at just over five minutes goes headlong into gothic rock territory, with some female vocals and some addictive melodies. “Profane Saviour” and especially “Everlasting Darkness” are somewhat more metal, the latter with some great guitar parts and tasty skin-bashing.
Production wise, this is a warm and endearing album, with lots of space for the cleanly sung vocals to shine alongside the chiming guitar tones and rock-solid rhythm section. It’s not too wide of the mark to say that you can certainly hear a lot of classic heavy metal influences, in particular on the axe work and some of the composition. When it clicks, it really clicks. Where Black Oath could improve is in helping to forge a little more of their own individuality, but for doom fans, there should be enough here that’s enjoyable and yet strangely familiar.
(7/10 Chris Davison)