|Title:||Saatanan Myrsky Yllä Pyhän Maan|
|Label:||Immortal Frost Productions|
The connection between black metal, lo-fi production, and Satanism doesn't shock listeners anymore, and it might even lead to an instant loss of interest on their part nowadays. However, when it comes to old school and conservative sounds, not focused on innovation for the sake of it, what makes the difference is still inspiration, and the effort coming out of the music, in short the alchemic quality of the individual elements. As for the Finnish act Oath, the latter was certainly successful.
There is no trace of innovation or personal takes in "Saatanan Myrsky Yllä Pyhän Maan", the first album by the Northern duo started in December 2012 and already with a couple of releases on their backs. Just satanic black metal following the best national tradition, seven pure hymns to Lucifer charged with an extremely powerful ritualistic halo, founded on the guitars played by Grim666 (he is also in charge of screaming, bass, and keyboards), creating inspiring riffs that become more meaningful with each repetition. The production succeeds at highlighting the rawness of the sound as the element that amplifies the pathos of each song, at the same time managing to keep a certain clarity between the different instruments (at least for this genre). In short, nothing to do with covering the band's shortcomings, hiding their lack of quality under lo-fi productions as many others do.
Oath even go as far as to offer some variety in terms of rhythm, thanks to the alternance of tempo set by V-Khaos' drums, he delivered an essential and notable performance here. Grim666 is sharp in his vocal execution, scratching and abrasive for the listeners' ears. Therefore, tension doesn't decrease even when speed goes drastically down. In order to give the album a little bit of chromatic contrast, we can hear here and there a cold-sounding synth with its light presence, as we might have expected from Coldworld.
As already mentioned, lyrically speaking this record is a homage to Satan and his advent, at least for the four tracks sung in English (but I am assuming it is the same for the ones in their mother language). In "Lucifer Rising II" an actual invocation takes place, and we can witness the inversion of the canonical representation of the war between good and evil: the Dark Lord is here offering relief from suffering, freedom from the chains of Heaven for the pure of heart and spirit, that will find their salvation in death.
The cover image is a work by the German painter and engraver Martin Schongauer entitled "The Temptation Of St. Anthony". We can here see a medieval beastiary from the second half of the XV century where demonic creatures crave for the Saint's flesh and soul. You can easily guess who we are supposed to support here… If you love Finnish black metal and adore Sargeist's aura, Oath will definitely be an enjoyable listen, at times even exciting ("The Beast Of Revolution"). They were a serious candidates for entering my personal Top 5 for 2014.
In case you don't trust my words, you can find out by yourselves through the Bandcamp page of the interesting Belgian label Immortal Frost Productions, that has made the entire "Saatanan Myrsky Yllä Pyhän Maan" available for streaming.