Boneyard – Oathbreaker
Release Date: 17/10/2020
Running Time: 50:00
Review by Simon Black
“Oathbreaker” is the debut release from this Canadian four piece, and has actually been out since October last year (blame the Ed, he only sent it me two days ago having found it behind the Ever Metal virtual fridge) – (How very dare you – Ed 😊). The style is very much traditional Hard Rock with a nod towards early Metal, with a nice crisp and fat sounding Production style. Frontwoman Pamtera (great gag by the way) has a warm and powerfully rich voice, with just enough of a bluesy edge to keep it real, although you can tell that her attention is equally focussed on her instrument from the way her melody lines follow the rhythm guitar parts. That’s easy to be critical of, but if you’ve ever tried playing rhythm and singing a different melody line you will know that it’s a lot harder to do than it looks. That said, it’s an approach that leads the head to more naturally nod along to what’s being played, especially live where it works like a virtual conductor guiding the audience’s response.
The key main criticisms I have are over length and the sequencing of the tracks. This is a tough one when you are a self-produced band starting out with a bunch of songs you’ve had on the go for a while, as the chances are you don’t have a manager, label or producer sitting on your back pushing you in a commercial direction and forcing you to tighten the arrangements or prune out the weaker elements. So, you have the strange situation where the weaker songs on the record actually open the album, but ride through these to the mid-way point and it’s absolutely worth the wait (or go straight to side B as I would have said in the old days).
‘Rat Race’ is the case in point. It’s got a really lively beat, catchy riff and chorus and the melody lines diverge, as well as giving the opportunity for the two guitarists to bounce off of each other with some old-fashioned sparring as opposed to the more clearly defined rhythm / lead split that predominates on the first half. The sound of this second half is also quite different from the first, with a more rich and varied mix of instrumental sounds and a much stronger phrasing and song-writing structure, this feels like the album is documenting a song-writing journey of several years and capturing the evolution of their sound. The second half is just punchier and more rounded, and perhaps they should have held back some of the more stripped back tracks for another time as at fifty minutes of run time, a shorter release with the stronger tracks at the front would have had a much stronger impact.
That said, when it’s on form, it’s on fire.
‘Fates Warning’ (Lyric Video)
01. Fates Warning
03. Evil Ways
04. Smoke The Sky
06. Rat Race
08. Born Again
10. Tune Attack
11. Catch Me If You Can
Pamtera – Lead Vocals, Rhythm and Lead Guitar
Dennis Cooke – Bass and Rhythm Guitar
Jeff Cunningham – Drums and Percussion
Grant Tarapacki – Lead Guitar
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