The famous saying "Don't judge a book by its cover" should not be applied to our case here. Black Oath's sophomore album is represented astonishingly well by their cover artwork. It might be more suitable for a funeral doom band or something in the likes of Gallow God, but I like it very much nonetheless. It makes you aware of the music that would follow - traditional doom metal inspired by the days of old.
"Ov Qliphoth and Darkness" starts with a song named "esbat" and it indeed sounds like one - you can hear the numerous chants followed by a mournful guitar and a slow regal drum. It's a great intro and to be honest, I like it better than the track that follows. It's one damn great dark album opener. The second song (first if you exclude the esbat) reminds me in sound of the new Black Sabbath album, it's neither too "touched" nor does it sound very primitive. A good song, but nothing that special or memorable compared to some other songs on the album, which are undoubtedly better - I don't know why the band put it so early in the playlist. It wouldn't be my choice for a first track anyway (oh stop it, you forget your place damn reviewer). What doesn't really strike a chord for me are the vocals - the singer is not some annoying wailing prick, he is not a falcetto battle warrior, but there's still something missing for me. That little thing that makes a record your favourite.
All songs on this release possess a very gloomy and troubled spirit. Whether you hit song two or five, five or one, you'd still hear this sorrowful mourning that seems to have soaked the whole of Black Oath's second work. I think of myself as a person that always “understands” most music from the first listens, but I can freely say that this album has to be listened several times before you can "pick" the songs up. In the beggining it might sound quite dull, but it isn't. As gloomy as they are, songs like "Sinful waters" became quite catchy after the third listen of the album.
Compared to the first Black Oath, this one is better. Maybe not something ultra different or supreme, but a little more coherent. Their songwriting is more developed and the ideas flow clearly. The album sounds like one whole big piece, not like very well-began, but lacking at some places material. You can still easily see the potential of the band on their debut, of course. What is true about both releases is that they need some time to get under your skin.
For good or bad, Black Oath sing in English, not Italian (their mother tongue) and this at least is good for your clear understanding of the song topics - cheerful and sunny themes like death and departing with the ones you love. From the first listens this release sounded too poor on the matter of riffs and rather empty, but it's not like that. I am really glad I gave it several listens, ‘cause it’s worth it.
Black Oath’s second album is not a representative of my favourite wave of doom. It sounds neither very angry/willing to break things up, neither as sorrowful as I love to hear. However, it still is a very decent traditional doom release – check for yourself.