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An Oath to Great NWOBHM - 100%

The_Sandwitch, December 15th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, Digital, Independent

Oath is the personal project of Scottish heavy metal band Tantrum's guitarist Steve Waddell, which enthralled and delighted a NWOBHM fan as myself on first listen - and I believe any other out there. There's so much authenticity here to the sound of that golden-era of metal, you won't question when this charming EP has been made, it just sounds straight out of that burgeoning scene.

Having been listening to metal for about 25 years, and now with the help of the internet where access to bands are so easily accessible, you get so bored with the same old sound. So many bands are doing the exact same thing, and I think that's why, when a band like Oath comes around, who bucks the trend of modernizing the standard, you take notice. You are once again in love with metal and the effects it has on you. Steve Waddell hasn't produced something that is big in it's sound, but is stripped-down to the essentials here on his first solo effort. Think of it like Muddy Waters to B.B.King; both having their strengths, but one staying obsessively true to the very essence of the source material, and the later, taking it a step further and producing a fuller sound. This makes this EP something very special in my qualified opinion. It's so refreshing and appreciated to hear something so dialed-down which is good.

Sometimes, artists have to take it on themselves to produce something devoid of the over-production and input from others in their bands, the very attitude of "if you want something done right, do it yourself". Steve has done exactly that here, taking the role of all-players and even helming the technical side of things; giving this EP a home-made, lo-fi quality. This is something that shouldn't deter listeners; if you're a fan of NWOBHM, I believe you have long accepted this sound, as I have, and it doesn't hinder your listening experiences in the slightest. I can compare Oath's sound to NWOBHM bands like Gorgon or Magnesium (both from Japan), who know fully well what creates the magic within songs from this time period; catchy rhythm riffs intertwining with cleverly arranged vocal melodies, interesting resolutions to highly anticipated phrases, and melodious solo-work with an ear for harmony with balls.

It doesn't take a full production to make your point and impress; all it takes is talent and practiced skills - and Steve Waddell proves he has both. Now, he isn't writing complicated prog songs here, but isn't that a skill in itself if you know your end-result and how to reach it? The songs are mid-tempo charmers, all providing joyful head-banging moments. You will be treated to four varied songs with an amazingly tied-together sound. The lyrics are really cool even if, like me, you have no idea what some of the songs are about - but you won't care cause you'll be grooving along without a single complaint. What you'll be surprised by, and remember again, is how these down-played, humble tracks can really grab you emotionally and sonically. They all pretty much stick to the same verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus structure, but Steve has given each song so many interesting ideas (lyrically, and musically), that this won't even be noticed - you'll just be back with your best friend who you haven't seen for a long time. 100% right here - really, this is just that good.

In Legion We Trust - 92%

CHAIRTHROWER, September 19th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, Digital, Independent

Surely, a portion of us trad metal dorks are familiar with Germany's sapphic and chthonic pair of devilishly rocking and blonde heel-grinders "The Oath"? On this saucy note, I've exciting news, particularly for well-bred fans of the NWOBHM as well as epic power metal in the classic vein of Brocas Helm, Manilla Road, Ritual, Praying Mantis and Wolf (precisely, the genial geniuses behind 1984's Edge of the World, not the brow-blasting modern day Swedes of rabid repute).

Earlier this month, Edinburgh native and Tantrum axe man Steven Waddell, aka "Oath", turned around and released an incredibly vintage sounding, four-track'd debut EP plainly titled Legion, much to this hopped up and raving metal maniac's merriment.

Exuding as much fiery grace and syncopating harmoniousness as necessary while unleashing an all-too-brief, quarter-hour sneak-preview attack in a dynamic and flawlessly executed manner, insofar as composition and track placement are concerned, this chimeric, lulling affair has forever placed a stranglehold on me, if only for Waddell's awe-some array of mint, sizzling solos which intensify before taking flight, most zealously.

Waddell's thrilling meld of emotion and technique is amply gleaned during the sumptuous second half of four and a half minute opener, "A Dream of Solitude". To my ears, at least, his slickly woven and venturesome solo expansively sounds like a hungrier Dave Mason. Hear how, at 02:09, a lone, richly unfolding lick builds around itself only to bloom into a myriad of pleasantly protracted, soulful chops, the apogee of which mimics the high flying, dragon-winged minstrel from the cover. Revel in a sweet, ephemerally trilling flutter near the end of both song and solo! Rejoice, as each suitably varying track yields more than enough numinous instances of all-out lead guitar bliss.

Said pace-setting prologue unfolds directly as planned; namely, it entails a one-way, chorus bereft introduction which funnels the listener smack dab into the gloriously refrained "Legion" proper. As it were, I swiftly tail-spun into a gushing fit of adulation upon glimpsing the spiritedly mellow and catchy middle tracks, not to mention leisurely waltzing, perhaps even Wishbone Ash and Thin Lizzy-ish, finale, "The Carpathian".

As inferred, the production and instrument tones (peculiarly, the drums) hark back to heavy metal's halcyon age, namely the early 80s; the snare and bass drum, notoriously so with their snappily muffled candor and dreamy surround. Bass, for that matter, cozily tags along without unduly encroaching on its higher pitched cousin, the g-tar. Also, the thoughtful, imaginative lyrics wisp-fully enhance Legion's sylphlike, transcendental atmosphere, profoundly so on the title track's charming, ensorcelling refrain: "The hand of destiny tolls the Bell/Heaven turns to dust!".

Jocosely now, a laid back and liberating "Cry Of The Wolf" hurls me into the virtual "Miami'fied" World of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City; specifically, behind the wheel of a sleek yellow Cheetah gleefully peeling away from the cops - and yowling! - as the radio belts out V-Rock (they of "Giggle Cream" ads and whatnot).

Be kind to yourself and swear an Oath by Legion - you can hail me later!