If you have been reading our blog for the last two years, you will certainly have come across the name Oath. Nevertheless, a short explanation at this point: It is a one-man-project from Scotland, behind which Steven Waddell can be found. Stylistically, we’re dealing with classic heavy metal, more specifically a nod to the legendary NWOBHM. Since 2018, two EPs and three full-lengths have been released – most recently, Hallowed Illusions.
With none other than Kyle McNeill (Seven Sisters/Phantom Spell) responsible for the mastering, it’s obvious that we’re treated to over 29 minutes of excellent sound quality that 100% matches the music presented. And yes, you heard right: the pleasure doesn’t last half an hour – but that’s not really a bad thing, because after the last notes of the closing track “Take This Oath“, you can simply continue with the opener “Disposable“. In between, you could open a cold one – or order Steven’s entire discography via Bandcamp, in both cases you won’t do anything wrong.
Hallowed Illusions is not only characterised by the excellent sound mentioned above, but also by the fact that you never think you are dealing with a one-man project. For this alone I take my hat off! The eight songs have been recorded with a lot of passion, so that the listener is only too happy to embark on a journey to the early eighties, when the NWOBHM experienced its heyday.
The opener “Disposable“ is extremely energetic and pushes forward well, which is not least due to the great guitar work that we get here and on the whole album: “Heresay“, for example, is dominated by addictive riffing, while in the title track I’m particularly blown away by yearning melodies. On this level, Oath is convincing all along the line. Luckily, Steven is also a talented singer, whose voice ennobles sing-along anthems like the fabulous “Stockholm Syndrome“ (fantastic lyrics, by the way!). You can already tell: 29 minutes can contain all kinds of hits!
The songwriting leaves nothing to be desired, especially as there is also plenty of variety. Oath doesn’t just step on the accelerator, a prime example for this is the already mentioned “Heresay“, which unquestionably deserves the label sophisticated. But also the following “Bedsit Symphonies“ has to be mentioned, which grooves in the verses in the best metal sense – I think especially this number is a real grower, as it clearly stands out stylistically from many tracks that have been released within the framework of the NWOTHM in recent years.
Conclusion: Of course it’s obvious who inspired Steven – there’s nothing innovative on Hallowed Illusions. However, an artist must be extremely talented to create this six-string magic that characterised metal in its early days. Beyond that, everything here is genuine and nothing seems artificial or trimmed to retro. Steven plays the music he likes – his homage to the NWOBHM is simply enormously refreshing, and all in all a very good summer soundtrack. I’m sure any tasteful fan of traditional sounds will agree with me.