The album Spells & Incantations is officially the “The Best of Sacred Oath.” Best Ofs are often ignored by the diehards (here lovingly known as “Oathbangers”) but are necessities to introduce newcomers into the fold. Think of them as musical Cliff Notes.
Derailed in the late ’80s and reformed in the last ten years, Sacred Oath has much quality material to cover. The band started out as the brain-child of singer/mega-singer Rob Thorne and bassist Pete Altieri in smalltown Connecticut — forming a force that is progressive power metal by nature (think of an offspring of Maiden and Blizzard of Ozz). And Thorne is such a quality singer, in the vein of a Geoff Tate. He should be as well-known as Tate but that’s another matter. Just for proof, listen to the vocals on a dramatic song like “Sandrider, or the all-out classic power metal of “Calm Before the Storm” or the personal metallic fave, “Blood Storm.” Thorne’s vocal range has been incredible through the years (sample “Meet Your Maker”) and only had a few missteps along the way, like trying on the falsetto style of a King Diamond (sample “Two Powers”).
New material in the form of two bonus tracks — “Posers Must Die” and “Wings of Salvation” — is worth the price of ownership, too. “Posers Must Die” is a fun extra — a growling thrasher in an ’80s metal inside joke kind of way. But “Wings of Salvation” is quite possibly one of Sacred Oaths finest songs. In my mind, it should be on a studio album so it can be more recognized (and hopefully, in the future, that will be the case). “Salvation” starts off with a mosh chug and grinds on from there, until it cracks it open into a classic thrash sound. If you are already a Sacred Oath fan it may be the real reason to get this album.
Spells & Incantations shows how truly “sacred” this band is. It’s a metallic blessing that the band reformed and remain a presence to this day. For someone who is not a fan of Best Ofs, Spells & Incantations nearly deserves a 5-star from this reviewer.