Oxblood Forge

I've said it many times before and I'll continue to say it again: I am […]
Oxblood Forge - Decimator album cover

I've said it many times before and I'll continue to say it again: I am a firm believer that bands/musicians don't make bad albums on purpose. However, it obviously happens and it must be called out.  If I review a really great album, I'll sing it's praise so I must also preach the bad elements of an album that is less than desirable. Enter OXBLOOD FORGE. This band, who formed in 2014 in Boston, has released their first full length album entitled "Decimator," and it is one of the worst I've albums I've heard so far this year.    They have also released two EP's and a split—-I haven't heard any of those so this is my first exposure to their music.

On the outside looking in, their description as a heavy/doom/stoner metal band is right up my alley.  Unfortunately, they must be in the adjacent alley because this release just has lot of problems.  This biggest?  That it is an absolutely frustrating album that pulled on what few nerves I have left.  Even with albums I don't like, there is always the chance it will improve.  As a reviewer, I will listen to an album multiple times, even if I don't like it, in hopes that my opinion of it will end up higher than it was in the beginning.

That isn't the case here—multiple listens to "Decimator" actually made me dislike it even more.  I just kept waiting for it to get better, given false hope by its few and very brief moments of brightness, but it never did.  Once I realized what I was dealing with here, each subsequent listen just further enraged me. There is potential here but it is buried under such a mess that I don't see the band ever finding it.  Most of Ken's vocals are atrocious and, at one point, I'm pretty sure he gave me an ear infection.  Most of the time, he "sings" in this weird throaty voice that is halfway between a thrash yell and a falsetto scream.  This effort is monotone as hell, dry, weak, and grating beyond anything I could type to describe it further.  I'm not sure why he is mixing the styles together; I can tell that he would be better if he just yelled or just did a falsetto.  The mix and mash stuff has got to go.

Remember when I said there were small bright spots?  Every now and then he uses this deep Gothic style voice that actually sounds decent.  Why in the world he so rarely uses it and focuses instead on his other voice is something I will never understand.  Honestly, I would be shocked if there is one person in this world who doesn't think the vocals are the weakest part of this album.

I can often times tolerate sub par vocals if the music is good enough.   The vintage sound on "Decimator" is average at best.  There are a lot of modern bands, within doom and other genres, that have an old school sound-and pull it off.  OXBLOOD FORGE just makes it boring.  There isn't much new and innovative under the sun so I don't expect bands to reinvent the wheel but if they are doing the same old thing, it needs to at least keep my eyes open while I'm driving.  That's right, this album almost made me fall asleep at the wheel.  I mean that in all seriousness, too.  I do a lot of driving so much of my music listening is in my car.  If I get bored and tired while playing something, that is a good indicator of it's quality or lack therefore of.

Like with the vocals, there are a few bright spots musically.  The title track, "Forged In Fire", has a melodic beginning that I found enjoyable and the rapid fire riffs that come afterwards don't leave in time to be bored.  The vocals on this song are decent too....I would be adding a least a couple more points to this album if more of the songs were like "Forged In Fire."

Too bad that it is filled with tracks like "Spirit of Vengeance," which is probably what you would get if JUDAS PRIEST were hungover and hated themselves.  Instead of sounding like a homage to those who came before, most of these tracks sound like the effort of a washed up bar band who gets paid in menthol's and natty light. I've never been out to trash bands but I just can't recommended this.  If a fan doesn't know much about the underground, doesn't hear how many good bands are really out there, they might enjoy this more than me.  For anyone else who has heard just about any other album this year....pass.

3 / 10









"Decimator" Track-listing:

1. Into the Abyss
2. Decimator
3. Forged in Fire
4. Spirit of Vengeance
5. Mortal Salience
6. Until the Gods Return (Hunt You Down)
7. Screams from Silence
8. Sorceress (Angel Witch cover)
9. Ironbound

Oxblood Forge Lineup:

Greg Dellaria - Bass
Erik Fraunfelter - Drums, Keyboards
Robb Lioy - Guitars
Ken MacKay - Vocals

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