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Desaster – The Oath of an Iron Ritual


German black/thrash pioneers Desaster have been storming the underground for over two decades now, but strangely enough 2016 does not seem to be their years when it comes to new releases from the sub-genre. Indeed, the likes of Destroyer 666 and Grave Miasma have already returned from the proverbial dead to prove to the world that, if anything, they’re still around. That said, Desaster in comparison seem like the godfathers of black/thrash’s more modernised sound, and though the band doesn’t do anything which stretches beyond the sub-genre’s limitations, they do it with relative gusto to satisfy the fan-base.

Desaster’s latest effort then, “The Oath of an Iron Ritual”, already tells you what is coming. No surprises here, just the same rough ‘n’ ready black /thrash approach that the band have adhered do pretty much since they began their relatively long-winded career. The problem is of course is that it’s easy to get distracted if the album is listened to as a side rather than the sole focus of your attention. Then again, the only audience “The Oath of an Iron Ritual” is likely to attract is rabid fans of the sub-genre it encapsulates and Desaster’s loyal followers, so no distractions should occur. That said, this album feels like it’s going through the motions half the time. The tough rumble of the intro and its successor, ‘Proclamation in Shadows’ share the exact same main riff and whilst that is complementary, it quickly gets wearisome to those who aren’t fully awake. Unfortunately, this largely affects the rest of the songs under five minutes long, despite the feral energy kept consistent throughout. The only other main flaw here is the shoddy vocal delivery, which in all honesty never seems to fit its instrumental counterpart. the vocals are suitably adapted to black/thrash’s deepest recesses, but they just don’t feel like they’re ever getting into the swing of it, and putting them aside, you really don’t have a lot to consider.

Three songs do stand out here however, and it’s virtually the reason why “The Oath of an Iron Age” is above average at least. ‘Haunting Siren’, ‘The Denial’ and closer ‘At the Eclipse of Blades’ all share that same progressive-minded songwriting that powered Mercyful Fate’s ‘Satan’s Fall’ back in 1983, and it actually sounds quite exciting too. Putting the aforementioned flaws aside, you can really appreciate the level of effort and forethought that went into these three lengthier songs, though even if they do stand out, they don’t stand out straight away. The guitar work is sometimes pretty lackluster, and despite frequent changes in pace, you can’t quite get away from how motionless ‘The Denial’ gets towards the end. That said, ‘Haunting Siren’ leaves a menacing imprint on your psyche thanks to some narrative input midway, and the album closer ‘At the Eclipse of Blades’ really fulfils its objective in leaving a fitting statement for you to remember for the next album.

Desaster carry on grinding their gears with “The Oath of an Iron Ritual”, even if those gears don’t sound particularly well-oiled. There’s nothing you won’t like here if you didn’t like the rest of Desaster’s long-winded discography, but the youthful exuberance is still there and the spirit is well aflame. Just a shame that only a few songs reach some form of standing out because of innovative songwriting, whereas in all honesty it should be encompassed by all ten tracks.

3.2/5

Released: April 8th, 2016.

  1. Intro (The Oath)
  2. Proclamation in Shadows
  3. End of Tyranny
  4. The Cleric’s Arcanum
  5. Haunting Siren
  6. Damnatio ad Bestias
  7. Conquer & Contaminate
  8. The Denial
  9. The Oath of an Iron Ritual
  10. At the Eclipse of Blades

Bandpage/Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/666Desaster666/

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