Sacred Oath - World on fire 3.5/5
1. Sweet agony
2. Meet your maker
3. The king must die
5. Front line
6. Face of evil
7. Drums of war
9. When the war is over
10. On death row
11. World on fire
After a one-CD detour with the world music label WorldSound, Sacred Oath decided to go the DIY route with their latest CD 'World on fire'. The CD cover art hearkens back to the fantasy/horror style of the earlier releases and it's nice to see the return of their classic 'A crystal vision' CD reissue logo (albeit in black and white, for some odd design reason).
Does the art and logo signify a "back-to-the-roots" effort by the band? Not really, as the CD is a continuation of the mature musical style presented on their prior CD, the self-titled 'Sacred Oath'. 'World on fire' is largely a traditional power metal CD, with only hints of controlled, crunchy melodic thrash in a few spots. So anyone who likes Iron Maiden influenced old-school power metal, with perhaps a touch of classic Megadeth type guitar riffing, will love this CD.
CD highlights include the lengthy "Sandrider", which takes a while to get going, but is an example of traditional U.S. power metal at its very best. The title track "World on fire" is also cool, in a sort of "Anthem to the estranged" (Metal Church) kinda way, being an epic with a nice build up. On the other side of the coin, "Face of evil" is somewhat run-of-the-mill, much like the ballad "When the war is over", which drags and has a faceless chorus.
Problems, some of which were addressed in my review of their prior CD, continue to concern me. For one, the drumming is really under-whelming; it could be a mixing oversight (i.e tone selection, presence in final mix) or the fact that the drums are not real. All I can say is that the drums could have been more interesting, performance-wise, and more prominent in the mix.
Singer Rob Thorne has a marvelous range, from his clear falsetto to his Chuck Billy-like deeper registers. Unfortunately we get more of the latter and not enough of the former, with Rob's mid-range being the main focus. And many of the vocal lines sound like they were done in single takes, lacking the necessary refinement to make them sound special. In some songs his vocals are mixed in front of everything else, unbalancing things. The band may consider using an outside producer to mix their next CD.
Speaking about details, the song choruses continue to be undistinguished, much like the previous CD. How about adding a guitar melody under a chorus, or some nifty drum rolls, or vocal layers, just to make a chorus stand out and be memorable? Case in point: "Drums of war", with its impressive opening; the chorus is a letdown considering the quality of the rest of the song (especially the musical section post-chorus).
'World on fire' is a good CD, but one that is difficult for me to get excited about. I love the musical style, I think the multi-talented band leader Rob Thorne is a great singer and songwriter, but until the band finds itself able to elevate a number of key factors (choruses, drumming, CD mixes), I'm not sure how far they will rise outside of their dedicated local and worldwide underground fan-base. Considering the amazing promotional work the band does, they deserve a lot more success.
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