Desaster - "The Oath of an Iron Ritual"
Well goddamn. While 2016 doesn't yet trump 2015’s metal releases, it’s sure making a valiant effort.
Absolutely nothing in metal can replace the visceral satisfaction of a good, well-placed riff over bone-shaking blast beats.
More often than not your head banging is attached to the drummers double bass drum onslaught and the guitar riff in unison.
Veteran German black/thrash quartet; Desaster follows the formula to perfection on "The Oath of an Iron Ritual".
"The Oath" is their 8th full-length album, and 11th official release overall.
With fresh, clean, but hauntingly dark riffs, and a relentless sonic assault of blast beats aplenty, this album grabs you right by your shoulders from the start and shakes the heaven out of you, and NEVER lets you loose.
There isn't one bad song, so there's no need to fast forward or touch anything after you press play. Just crank up the volume and "rattle ya goddamn head".
Perfectly recorded and mastered, and brilliantly performed. The speed metal elements they employ make this a very mosh-pit-worthy disc.
Desaster formed in Germany way back in 1988. Their song themes involve war, violence, mythology, and the occult.
When Desaster formed, they were originally inspired by black-thrash bands like; Venom, Hellhammer and Destruction; the name of their band actually comes from the Destruction song "Total Desaster".
Desaster's style is closer to fist-pumping 80's thrash metal than to dreary Norwegian black metal. They strongly show the influence of old German (Teutonic) thrash; especially Kreator, but still they sound new, refreshing, and honest about it.
"Teutonic mythology" generally refers to non-Scandinavian Germanic myth, as opposed to "Norse", which refers to Scandinavian myth. People use the terms interchangeably, but they are for sure different legacies, but the mythology underneath is very similar.
Although Roman mythology influenced Desaster lyrically for this effort, their instrumental sound is harder, faster, darker and more uncompromising than ever. The blend of the two elements together is thematically a brilliant concept. The cover art is a painting called Pandemonium by John Martin and sums it up better than any words I could write.
Let's dig in...
"The Oath" starts out with an intro that can best be interpreted as "Jesus getting nailed to the cross". I say that because the beginning is much like an ending, and the outro reprises the beginning. It makes you want to play the entire album all over again because of the satisfied feeling of completion. It just takes off and ends like a single complete journey.
“Proclamation in Shadows” hits you square in the face with excellent riffs and blast-beat super power. This opening track has all the essentials of a good fist-pumping metal anthem.
All throughout the disc the passionate vocals from "Sataniac" the lead singer are utterly intense and believable.
"Infernal" the Guitarist never makes an error. His riffs and solos are flawless.
"Odin" the Bassist can be clearly heard in the pristine mix and is perfectly placed in the overall sound.
"Tormentor" the Drummer is especially inspired playing like a bat out of hell.
The album works like a classic, right from the start until the ending, there is no need to change a thing. There is a great cohesion in pace, mood, and riffs, that never errs or lets you go, and yet is never monotonous.
"The Oath" is a very visual and thematic album steeped in mythology. Taking a look at the lyric sheet (highly advised) there are some deep thoughts in the songwriting.
“End of Tyranny”, and “Proclamation” are songs guided by front-man Sataniac’s agonized and convincing roar.
Those first two songs aforementioned really do set the precedent for the rest of the album quite nicely.
The songs all have a monster main riff combined with a strong drum blast underbelly but the pacing is varied and exciting.
There are tasteful touches throughout, like the spoken word section on “Haunting Siren,” or how “The Denial” begins and ends with a classic doom riff over a very solemn drum beat.
There is a raging fire in the band on "The Oath" that hasn’t been present in some time in the bands nearly 30 year history.
Their previous full-length album; "The Arts of Destruction" was fine, but there is a renewed sense of energy on "The Oath" that sounds like the band has really jelled into a set unit after years of line-up changes.
Desaster have yet to make a bad record, many fans would say they haven’t sounded this edgy and precise since "Tyrants of the Netherworld" or 2005’s "Angelwhore" album.
Everyone is clearly bringing their 'A-game' to this record. Sataniac sounds absolutely beastly, coupling his unique screaming vocals with scattered spoken word to add a bit of 'blasphemic gravitas' to the proceedings.
Guitarist Inferno comes up with some of the best riff-work of the band’s career. 24 years of playing to crazed fans have done well to help him hone his 'axe' into a killing machine.
Whether it's the speed-metal in the title track or the death/thrash metal style in; “Conquer and Contaminate” this is one hell of a versatile complete album, perfect in length, pacing, and song sequence.
Tormentor's hard but restrained drumming is very much a large part of why the album forces itself into your head and stays there. Especially since the bass lines are so tight and clear right there beside him.
It helps that the mix is so clear, it punches you in the gut that much harder. There will be no 'ear fatigue' here, I assure you every element in the music is right in your face. Every Roman sword stabbing you right in your ear-holes.
Indeed 2016 has been quite kind to black/thrash thus far, and "Oath of an Iron Ritual" is now leading the bloodthirsty pack.
Top tracks: "EVERYTHING!" Just let it play. This is a 48 minute ritual very much worth committing to.
By Simon Phoenix, edited by James Clark