Sometimes when doing reviews, you stumble across something completely unknown to you but nevertheless makes you think “wow!”. Evoking the glory of late 70’s pub rock married to early 80s garage bands and so much more, Oath is a reverb-drenched haze of pulsating riffs and serpentine solos. Imagine a cross between Graham Parker and the Rumour with Wishbone Ash and Iron Maiden! Elsewhere, Oath has been described as taking inspiration from the DIY ethic of bands like Fetid Zombie and Darkthrone combined with the melodic feel of bands like Praying Mantis and Angelwitch with a touch of prog for good measure – what’s not to like?!
Oath Sc is actually the work of one Steve Waddell – who does the vocals, all the instruments and the mixing. The album is then mastered by Kyle McNeil from fellow UK metal band Seven Sisters. As far as I can tell, Sc could either stand for Scooters (and why not?!) – or more possibly Scotland (I believe he’s based in Edinburgh), to differentiate from the US band of the same name? You choose!
Oath Sc was apparently born in 2018, with a desire to recreate the sound of a long lost old-school 80s metal demo. An initial four-track EP titled Legion was released to an unexpectedly warm response from Joe Public (although I can see why, on the strength of this little beastie!), this was followed by the debut full-length production Legacy. In keeping with the underground vibe of its predecessor, the album was a short sharp stab of reverb-soaked classic NWOBHM era metal – sounds good eh? – but with a twist. No dragons or battles here, no demons or undead, just eight songs about real-life situations, of family, of love and a warning of the dangers of the world we have built around ourselves.
Legacy caught the ear of one Trevor Church of US metal juggernaut Haunt, who stepped in to lay down some drums and backing vocals on the follow-up release Computer Warrior, a project that was meant to be a double A-side single for something to do during lockdown and which very quickly grew arms and legs and became Oath’s most beloved release to date – until now?…..
Hallowed Illusions brings us eight tasty treats: Disposable gets us off to a breathless start, twin guitars mercilessly winding things up and up and up, it’s a riff to pass out to, very punky pace-wise – a touch of Rich Kids, Rezillos, and other great Power Pop bands that I’m racking what’s left of my curdled brains to remember – this is simply relentless and huge fun! – phew!
Heresay is more in the territory of Judas Priest / NWOBHM / Iron Maiden, and very good indeed it is too. Vocals get a little strained at times maybe, but I’m being really picky here, everything else about the track is just stellar, culminating in a glorious solo – and a lovely bassline as well. Bedsit Symphonies is a blend of classic rock / new heavy metal, chugs along with a nicely loping Wishbone Ash flavour, the guitar work all the way through the changes in pace in this track just has to be heard to be believed. Honestly, Steve is a pure revelation on lead licks, I’m left stunned!
Stockholm Syndrome continues this same vein of fresh, energetic yet completely timeless rock; more tremendous twin guitars, more massive melodies, I’m just loving every last note! I’m not in possession of the lyric sheet for this, but the general gist is a rage against the current selfishness and materialism that envelops every aspect of life….and there’s another solo to finish off.
Looking Back is driven by a pile-driving riff, it perfectly fits the description of heavy metal meets power pop, steamrolling along, although not in a VERY HEAVY sense, more purely energetic, breathless again. Hallowed Illusions the title track has that same knack of somehow having a bit of so many styles, the general pacy-ness of bonkers pub-rockers like Graham Parker and The Rumour, The Attractions, Brinsley Schwartz, Radio Stars, Eddie and the Hot Rods (all bands I still revere)…. married to a contemporary mix, GENUINELY WORLD-CLASS guitar work that I cant believe I’m listening to….Wow!
Standing On The Edge Of The World continues that modern-day Parkerilla vibe; the New Wave never sounded so good! And then we have the album’s closing track Take This Oath, it bounces into your head, again that interplay of wonderful twin guitars, NWOBHM energy, old-school powerpop – this ear-worm ain’t leaving me any time soon! Great vocals and tune, followed by a last amazing solo, all combine to complete a perfect composition!
Seriously, I’d never heard of the guy before picking this up to review – and what a revelation, for me its just the perfect mix of everything I love about rock – well done mate!
New listeners, stand by to be bowled over, drooling, over the gorgeous twin guitar harmonies and searing solos that apparently have always been a hallmark of the Oath sound (I fear further purchases are now very necessary!).