Sacred Oath - Fallen 2/5

Reviewed: 12-1-13





Tracklist:

1. King of your world
2. The way of all flesh
3. Get your wings
4. Dream death
5. Misery loves company
6. Snake eyes
7. Lurking fear
8. Aradia
9. Death knell
10. Fallen


There is nothing more disheartening than writing a review for a CD like 'Fallen'. I love Sacred Oath's first 2 CDs, and respect the 2 subsequent CDs, but the choruses on 'Fallen' just don't stick, the guitar riffs are mostly generic, the vocals irritate after a while, and the pacing lacks urgency. I kept hoping for the CD, Sacred Oath's 5th, to grow on me but no such luck.

In an effort to pin down my concerns, here are song by song comments:

"King of your world" has unappealing scat-like vocals in the verses and a nice chorus that we've heard Sacred Oath do better in the past.

"The way of all flesh" somehow lasts for 7 minutes without hooks and drags big-time in the slow middle section.

"Get your wings" finally picks up the pace with King Diamond-esque vocals and focused writing; but the song is average when compared to their classic 'Darkness visible' opus, mainly due to the weak chorus and lack of cool guitar melodies.

"Dream death" is another 7+ minute track that only gets off the ground at the 3-minute mark with a speedy sub-Metallica/Megadeth riff and a shouted thrash-style chorus backed by tumbling drums. The most memorable parts include the exquisite solo section and the twin guitar solo exit at the finale. A song in clear need of an editor, as it could have been a scorcher if under 4 minutes.

"Misery loves company" has a short playing time of 2:54 (a welcome relief!), but is very average by Sacred Oath standards and coasts by without leaving an impression.

"Snake eyes" continues the odd fascination with dissonant guitar riffs/melodies backed by a Megadeth-esque rhythm section. The loose staccato vocals clear a path into an average chorus which blends the singer's falsetto with shouted backing vocals. And this is the point where I'm not feeling good about the vocal performance at all. I mean, the singer is obviously good at what he does but is this the Sacred Oath we know and love? The style has changed so much from the first 2 Sacred Oath CDs.

"Lurking fear" is average beyond belief, a bland mid-paced attempt at blending Megadeth, Mercyful Fate and Testament with some hardcore vocals (probably courtesy of the bass player). The only saving grace is the solo section, which deserves to be cut and pasted into a song worthy of its short but potent beauty.

"Aradia" is a surprisingly mellow instrumental. The word "Aradia" has something to do with pagan witches (see Wikipedia for more info) and sets up the next track, which references the same topic; but being 2:37 long, "Aradia" is not interesting enough on a CD already bogged down by sub-par material.

"Death knell" continues the CD's tradition of slow openings and mid-paced plods, kicking into a higher gear well into the song (in this case, at close to 2:30 in). I don't like the shouted backing vocals, nor the length of nearly 6 minutes, but otherwise this song is one of the CD's only highlights.

"Fallen" closes out the CD with yet another slow start, building momentum and inserting a latin-quoting rock opera choir; but at nearly 6 minutes, it never gets off the ground, and frankly sounds like an extended outro. The title track is a different face for Sacred Oath and likely pays tribute to the singer's prog rock background of the 90s.

So what we have here is a CD that is obviously well played and produced but lacking in memorability, straying too far from Sacred Oath's unique sound in the vocal and songwriting department (using the first 2 Sacred Oath CDs as templates; a combination of early Metallica/Megadeth riffarama, challenging but catchy Mercyful Fate song structures, and the galloping twin guitars of Iron Maiden). Personally I'd like to see the songwriting tighten up, the pacing become more urgent, and the vocals feature a more operatic approach (instead of the bluesier/rockier style of the last couple of CDs). And bring back the nifty band logo that appeared on the 'Darkness visible' and 'Live in Germany' CDs! Heck, can't even read the band name on 'Fallen', sigh.



TOM




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