Lord Mountain – The Oath Review

Anyone else ever find themselves forgetting that they like a genre of music? Doom metal is probably the most-often-forgotten stepchild of my psyche, and I rarely give the style a moment’s notice. But whenever I find myself exposed to those big, lumbering riffs, and haunted vocals, I’m always reminded just how awesome classic doom metal can be—emphasis on the classic. I enjoy death/doom just fine—so long as there’s a healthy dose of actual death involved—and find funeral doom to be mind-numbingly boring, but classic doom metal of the Black Sabbath, Pentagram, and Candlemass variety rattles my bones and compels me to wallow in life’s sweet despair. I usually remember my love of doom a couple of times a year, and this remembrance is coming early in 2023. I present to you The Oath, the debut full-length from California’s Lord Mountain. Let’s take a peak, shall we?

Lord Mountain plays doom of the simplest variety, but don’t mistake “simple” for “easy” or “mediocre,” because The Oath is one of the tastiest true doom platters I’ve come across in a long time. Classic Sabbath represents Lord Mountain’s core sound, but that core is embellished by hints of Pentagram and Candlemass and given a subtle taste of traditional metal grandeur à la Manilla Road. When opener and lead single “Well of Fates” starts with a great little heavy metal groove, one of the first things you’ll notice is the immense low-end rumble laid down by bassist Andy Chism. Vocalist Jesse Swanson is a dead ringer for Ozzy, and his guitar work, combined with that of fellow guitarist Sean Serano, takes us through hard-charging rhythms and big doom chugs, making “Well of Fates” an excellent introduction to the sword-wielding adventure that comprises The Oath.

Like many of the great heavy/doom albums of old, The Oath succeeds thanks to its great balance of tempos. There are multiple slow crushers here, like the fantastic “The Giant,” but they’re made more impactful when contrasted with faster rockers like “The Last Crossing” and “Chasm of Time”—those latter tracks really showcase the Manilla Road influence here. “The Sacrifice” has a trancelike quality that borders on stoner metal, “The Serpent Temple” channels modern doom darlings Crypt Sermon, and the huge closing title track starts with a triumphant “Heaven and Hell” intro riff before settling into a massive crawling stoner groove.

At eight tracks and thirty-six minutes, The Oath is a bite-sized morsel of doom, and like many delicious, bite-sized things, its palatability has lead me to overconsume. The sonic diversity alluded to in the last paragraph makes Lord Mountain’s sound extremely replayable, and the album’s runtime flies by in what seems like an instant. The guitar work from the law firm of Swanson and Serano seems so effortless and casual, but these riffs and leads will worm their way into the depths of your mind if given a chance. Swanson’s voice may be a bit too similar to Ozzy’s for some, but I think he suits the tunes really well here. Chism’s bass is a defining feature of Lord Mountain’s sound, and he could arguably be given VIP honors for his performance. This whole album is a delight to listen to, but the stellar closing threesome of “The Sacrifice,” “Serpent Temple,” and “The Oath” is simply world-class doom metal.

It takes guts, talent, and hard work to stand out when playing such a familiar and overdone style, but Lord Mountain has all of those qualities in spades. This is an extremely promising debut, and I can easily see Lord Mountain climbing the ranks to achieve the status of modern olde-doom royalty.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 224 kbps mp3
Label: King Volume Records (USA) | Kozmik Artifactz (EUR)
Websites: lordmountain1.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/lordmountaindoom
Releases Worldwide: January 20th, 2023

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