‘Oathbreaker’ by Boneyard [Album Review]

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Background from the Band

Launched in 2015, Canadian hard rock/ heavy metal band Boneyard is the lifeblood and passion of vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Pamtera. The members bring a wealth of experience from previous bands that include: Tyrant, Septimus and Powerslave. The band started out as a cover project, but has been writing original music for the past three years.

In May of 2019, the group entered producer/ engineer Cam Macleod’s [White Wolf] Wolfs Den studio in Edmonton and began recording their debut album. After an extended COVID-19 pause, the band returned to complete the project in August of 2020. Eleven tracks were then sent to be mastered by Maor Appelbaum (Halford, Armored Saint, Anvil etc.) in Los Angeles, USA. What emerged is the Oathbreaker album, which was released on October 24th. The first single, Fates Warning, came out on October 17th, 2020.

With their tireless work ethic and creative ambition, this album builds on the promise of the past as it positions the band for a focused, fresh, and fiery future at the forefront of modern hard rock and heavy metal.

Fates Warning

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this album when I first listened to it. I had a few ideas just given the artwork for the album. Overall it has a very classic rock feeling, which I think is an interesting and interesting deviation from a lot of new music being released under the rock genre. I’m incredibly impressed since a female singer rarely happens in modern rock music, but it was more familiar with classic rock.

Unfortunately for this opening track, though, it also suffers the same fate as classic rock music and that a lot of the songs are just too long. At least they are too long for the modern listener. The songs over 6 minutes long, and it has no reason to be. This song runs out of things to say around the four and a half minute mark, so there’s no reason for it to be that long. It’s not to say that it isn’t an enjoyable song for the time that it can keep my attention, but it loses that attention for the last couple of minutes. Especially given that the album itself is on the longer side and other songs are quite long, so starting with a bloated song maybe isn’t the best way to throw people into your album.

Gone

I was impressed with the guitars on all of the tracks on this album, but I want to talk a little bit about what’s going on with them for this one. I like that we have the two guitar lines that alternate between playing together while there’s vocals over the top and then deviating into two separate guitar riffs when there’s space in between the lyrics. Even when they’re playing together, they occasionally harmonize with each other, and I am a sucker for harmonizing guitars even if it’s just fleetingly.

It’s also got a good old-fashioned guitar solo in there, and nobody respects the guitar solo anymore. It’s a nice moment just to let the guitarists show off. It brings in that classic rock Vibe because you don’t get many guitar solos in modern music anymore, usually get a bridge or a breakdown of some kind, but the guitar solo is going extinct. I love it when a band just lets there be a guitar solo.

Evil Ways

I was a little bit worried that this album would be full steam ahead kind of affair, and those kinds of albums can get exhausting quickly, but this song proves that they can add in more dynamics to their music. There are some excellent slowing down moments to this song, and in general, it has a little bit less energy than the songs that came before it. And that’s certainly not a bad thing.

I also really like the vocal melody of the chorus of this song. I think it’s catchy, and even at the beginning of listening to this album, when I didn’t know the words to the music, I still found myself humming along to that vocal melody. I think this was the song when I started to get interested in what this band was capable of creating.

Smoke the Sky

This song is a tad disappointing, especially after the previous song. It’s not that it isn’t a good song at its essence, but it doesn’t deviate from the expected sound. I guess what I mean by that is that it fits the same sounded progression as songs that have already appeared on this album, making it a bit boring to listen to. Especially since the style harkens so much to classic rock. There just better songs in this style I can be listening to. I can go back through the backlog of rock music, and I can find a more exciting piece that has the same tone as this one does.

But we are also getting into the middle section of the album, and that’s usually a bit of a slower area. If this song had to be on the album and given how long the album is, I don’t know if that’s necessarily true, that I suppose it makes sense that it would be in the middle.

Oathbreaker

Putting the title track in the middle of the album is an exciting choice. As I said about the last song, the middle of the album tends to be the slowest part of the album, where the song gets sandwiched by better tracks. So having the title track hit almost directly in the middle is a little unconventional. Often, it tends to be either at the beginning of the album or near the end of the album.

We get another slowdown in terms of tempo, and again I think it makes the album more impressive that they can alternate between more energetic songs and slower ones. This is the slowest one on the album so far. There a lot of exciting dynamics in the vocals as well. We get some nice layering of harmonies, which has been happening in the songs until now, but the slower pace and the more tentative instrumentals make it a lot easier to hear them. We also get some rasp added to the vocals, which helps communicate a lot of the song’s emotion.

Rat Race

We get some intense guitar riffs in this song, which I quite enjoy. We also get an excellent long section of harmonizing guitars, which of course, you know I love. But again, it doesn’t feel like this song is offering anything that the band hasn’t provided already.

I also noticed just looking at some of the numbers displayed when you listen to it on Spotify that this song is about when people came to drop off the album. Usually, when you look at stats on how many times the music has been played, you get random songs that are more popular than others. They’re usually the singles, but I’ve never seen an album cut down the middle before like this one seems to be.

Rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

I was going to do a complete track by track of this album, but I realized that I stopped having things to say that I thought would be productive at a certain point. And I think that’s the overall issue with this album. There are some exciting things, and I would never say that this is a bad album. There isn’t anything that I can point to and say that there’s a lack of talent or that something isn’t as polished as it should be for a finished album. Unfortunately, it’s an album that shows you many of its tricks in the first few tracks and then doesn’t change things up enough to keep me interested after that point. There are a couple of ups and downs with the album, but overall, I think you can listen to a few songs from this album and understand the album.

That being said, I think this band has a lot of potential to do some cool things in the future. As I said, there’s talent here, and I love the foundation that has been set up with this album. So hopefully, in the future, they will be able to add more sounds and Dynamics to their songs that would be able to keep me interested for longer.

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