Oxblood Forge: Decimator-2021.

It’s been about half a decade since Oxblood Forge put out their self-titled first release, and even though they’ve kept themselves busy, this new album is only their second full-length. In spite of the band’s relative inexperience, they’ve already developed a clear sense of the aesthetic for which they’re aiming. With titles like “Forged in Fire” and “Ironbound”, it’s obvious that classic heavy metal and NWOBHM were a huge influence, as demonstrated by dramatic vocals, a lancing lead guitar, and big, chunky riffs. And plenty of soloing; can’t forget the solos!

Kicking off with the suitably-titled “Into the Abyss”, the vocals soon rise into falsetto howls, while banging drums keep a headbang-friendly tempo going, the guitarist cranks out a rowdy tone, and the bassist puts in some impressively fast-moving work (which ends up a little too buried in the mix, sadly). As they move into their title track, sounding like a slightly heavier Motley Crue or Quiet Riot, the retro seasonings get amped up to what’s likely the deciding point for most listeners. It’s almost like a gauntlet being thrown; either you’ll wanna check out their rampage through the likes of English Dogs and Molly Hatchet, or the power metal-ish silliness will be a hard turn-off.

Tendencies towards cock-rocky strutting and the directness of the riffs aside, the band plays well together. Stuff like the trade-offs in “Spirit of Vengeance” (which I’m gonna choose to believe is a reference to the Ghost Rider sequel) shows the members willing to spread the focus around from one instrument to the next, invigorating the music… only to then slide back into another stock chorus of yells and chugging guitar, wasting away that potential until it’s time for more soloing.

For the most part, the efforts to channel the mighty headbanging spirit are successful, particularly when the focus shifts to the guitar and drums (as in “Mortal Salience”, my personal pick for top song). It’s also a nice change when the vocalist slips into a more natural pitch (e.g., “Until the Gods Return (Hunt You Down)”), as it not only moves away from the piercing falsetto, but also fits better with the crunchy guitar. Things really shine on the album’s one cover song, a treatment of Angel Witch‘s “Sorceress”, where directly following an inspiring band’s blueprints lead to some of the album’s strongest flow.

In the end, while the main audience for this album will be among those who are already into retro heavy metal and power metal, there’s enough skill here to lure in some fresh ears as well. In doing so, they may even push those newcomers to check out some of the bands that inspired them which, considering how fond they are of those role models, they’d probably count as a win anyway.

Discography:

Oxblood ForgeEP2016 
Death Dealer’s LamentEP2018 
Mourn the Light / Oxblood ForgeSplit2019 
DecimatorFull-length2021
Greg Dellaria
Bass
See also: EntierroIchabod, ex-Bloodlust, ex-Temporary Insanity (live), Sad Wings of Destiny (Judas Priest tribute) (live), ex-Blessed Offal, ex-Dread, ex-Subjugator, ex-Blood for Blood, ex-Panic
Erik Fraunfelter
Drums
See also: ex-Gamohra (live)
Robb Lioy
Guitars
Ken MacKay
Vocals
See also: Hjorda, ex-Ichabod, ex-Big John Studd

Past Members:

Chris CapenDrums
Josh HowardGuitars
Songs
1.Into the Abyss05:33  Show lyrics
2.Decimator05:11  Show lyrics
3.Forged in Fire05:37  Show lyrics
4.Spirit of Vengeance05:47  Show lyrics
5.Mortal Salience04:30  Show lyrics
6.Until the Gods Return (Hunt You Down)04:46  Show lyrics
7.Screams from Silence05:16  Show lyrics
8.Sorceress (Angel Witch cover)04:19  Show lyrics
9.Ironbound08:19  Show lyrics
 49:18 

1 Comment

  1. CHAIRTHROWER, June 18th, 2021

    Following pair of EPs and split with Connecticut’s more recently founded Mourn The Light, Boston’s indelibly named Oxblood Forge first caught my attention, not strictly because of its bad-ass moniker, but also due to its supposed polygamist marriage of “heavy”/”doom”/”stoner” metal. At press time i.e. today, the New England quartet unveiled its aptly due full-length debut, titled Decimator and consisting of nine, progressively hybrid-al numbers (over roughly fifty minutes), one of which is none other than highly refined, haunting cover of Angel Witch’s classic “Sorceress”, from 1980.

    Former Ichabod front man Ken MacKay proffers a wide variety of vocal approaches, beginning on chromatically kick-ass opener “Into The Abyss” (not the Neon one, of cutesy two-dimensional shoot-’em-up gamin’), where his raspy and raw, scream-y screeching irremediably morphs into a veritable cornucopia of tonal rearrangements once the eponymous “Decimator” grinds its beefed up, crankily riffed way towards a greasy, gang-crowed chorus, alongside mask skewing drum solo and voluptuous, bridging bass line, courtesy of Erik Fraunfelter and Ichabod’s Greg Dellaria. Lone axe man Robb Lioy lets fly with reckless abandon, supplying wickedly phrased, extended leads on each track.

    On first listen, I took greatly to his satisfactorily crunchy and clear guitar tone, whilst Franfelter’s bass playing is super prominent, at times going off on wildly bucking hay rides of noodle-some funkiness which often overtake Lioy’s straight forward and persistent chops, altogether. In other words, the bass provides much more than simple accompaniment, providing an extra layer of depth, notably on faster, genuinely “metal” tracks such as “Forged In Fire”, “Spirit Of Vengeance” (despite respectively clean and melancholic, as well as edgy and robotic prologues) and, above all, top highlight “Mortal Salience”. With its wry n’ dry cymbal taps, gruelling buzz saw of a riff, and MacKay’s reversal back to mendaciously bleak, menacing caws, the latter embodies Decimator’s anger and force clime-axe, whereas the next song, “Until The Gods Return (Hunt You Down)” sees a definite down shift in overall aggression and mood.

    At this point in the decimation, Oxblood Forge’s so-called stoner affinities appear, from more expressive and emotional, wider ranged intonations to bluesier, American styled heavy doom rock riffage/soloing. It’s a far cry from blue chip traditionalism pervading album’s first half. The sludgy, mournful, crying crawl of “Screams Of Silence” then yields further surprises, ranging between labyrinthine, stomping rhythms and kaleidoscopic vocal performance rivalling the sixteen different personalities of Sybil Dorsett, while eight minute long, epically complexioned closer “Ironbound” (like newbie “nwothm” band from Poland) waxes drawn-out and conclusive.

    Amidst it all, the Angel Witch cover, right down to its lugubriously ecclesiastical, old-school synths, is a wise choice as far as seeking justifiable blend of “nwobhm” and “doom”, surely making Oxblood Forge’s Decimator worthy of (y)our time!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s