What do you get when you combine some of the trendiest current styles in metal in retro, occultish and female-fronted doom? You get The Oath. And I swear if this eponymous debut isn’t the catchiest thing you’ll hear this month, I’ll eat my hat. (No I won’t.)
The Oath is the result of the alchemical bond between German vocalist Johanna Sadonis and Swedish guitarist Linnea Olsson. They seemingly work with one mind and you can really tell as they complement each other flawlessly.
The leather-clad ladies are joined by a rhythm section of Kadavar bassist Simon Bouteloup and Angel Witch drummer Andy Prestridge (at least on the album). While those two hold their own (they’re no slouches) especially on “Leaving Together,” this group belongs to the ladies.
Olsson’s licks bear the trademarks of one beholden to the good ole days when the distinctions between hard rock and metal were just being formed. Her galloping rhythms and slick leads are crisp and relatively clean but also seep that vintage essence. She can get creepy and atmospheric (“Psalm 7”) as well as groovy and those riffs will stick in your brain longer than a mosquito in amber. Sabbathisms are obviously present, but they’re joined by a handful of other influences. Nothing you’d consider modern though.
Her partner in crime Sadonis takes her cues from days gone by as well. The most obvious references, at least to these ears, would be Heart’s Ann Wilson and Blondie’s Debbie Harry. But last I checked they didn’t sing about Satan.
Her delivery is loud and powerful yet silky smooth and dare I say, sensual. She too shines in the hook department. Package her siren-like pull with Olsson’s fist-pumping punch and the barbs are set. All you can do is give up and let yourself get sucked in by tracks like “Black Rainbow,” “Silver and Dust” and “Silk Road” that are rife with muscular, organic and soulful riffs.
If you like your doom proto, your grooves hot and your Satan sweet, take The Oath and pledge yourself to rocking the hell out.
Now, I did have this fancy closing line about how only time will tell if the magic of this album will counter the dreaded sophomore jinx, which included a clever reference to Trouble. But, it was recently announced that The Oath have in fact split up. I received an email from Linnea herself. I don’t know the details but Linnea told me she’s not sad. That’s a positive I guess. She didn’t say if she was happy, or mad, but not sad is good. Whatever the case The Oath now stands as a one-time lightning in a bottle album. Instead, now time will tell how long people will be saying “Remember The Oath?”
Best of luck, Linnea and Johanna.