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Written by Fab   
Monday, 14 February 2011 15:49

SACRED OATH are no newcomers and their reputation among the traditional metal field is huge now ! Guitarist/Vocalist Rob Thorne answers our questions about the band's history and brand new album "World On Fire" which is nothing less than a masterpiece if you're into refined & hi-class Metal... Read and support this band !

- Hello Rob ! First of all, how did you come with that name ? Any particular influence back in 1985 when you formed the band.. I mean one year before a certain Danish band came up with an album called “Don’t break The Oath”… ?
Yes sir ! I'm sure it did come from "Don't Break the Oath."  Pete Altieri and I were working together at a local hamburger joint and he threw the name at me for consideration.  I instantly loved it and we decided to form the band around that name.  Funny that we had the name BEFORE we had put the band together !
- Can you say Mercyful fate was one of the bands that influenced you and gave the will to start your own Heavy-Metal band ? What are the other bands that first influenced you ?
Mercyful Fate was a huge influence on us at the time, but I had already been playing in bands for a couple of years before I even heard of them.  Ozzy Osbourne and Rob Halford inspired me to sing and get into my first band, and they still inspire me today to keep going.  I remember telling the first band I was in that I wouldn't even join unless they promised to play "Sweet Leaf" !  AC/DC was a big influence on me too.  Of course, I was only 13 years old, so I wasn't exposed to the underground yet.
- Back in those years, Thrash-Metal was getting really popular… Slayer, Exodus, Anthrax and Metallica were so huge… wasn’t it difficult to get some interest when your style was way more melodic ?
No.  Three of those bands you mentioned were West Coast bands, and we were an East Coast band, and more importantly, a Connecticut band.  Fates Warning, Obsession, Liege Lord and of course Sacred Oath had a very strong thing happening in Connecticut at the time and the "scene" was all about melodic metal here.  We were very influenced by Fates Warning and they were real mentors to us as they were older, more experienced, and had a deal with Metal Blade.  Mercenary Records picked up on this, and signed a bunch of East Coast bands including us, Attacker and Mean Street.
- You released your first album “A Crystal Vision” in 1987…. And the second one, “Darkness Visible” came out in 2007… it really took you 20 years to release it or are there some other reason that you didn’t put it out earlier ?
Well, we broke apart and stopped Sacred Oath for almost ten years (1989-1998)!  In that time I recorded 2 albums with Soundscape and 3 solo albums, so I was preoccupied with that and not even thinking about Sacred Oath.  It wasn't until Denis Gulbey and Sentinel Steel Records reached out to me about the re-issue of "A Crystal Vision" that I was even aware people remembered Sacred Oath.  I was shocked to hear that the album had devoted fans.  So we went ahead and recorded "A Crystal Revision," and being together in the studio again lit a spark under my ass to finally record the material we ahd written for Darkness Visible.  I was reminded of how much love I had for Sacred Oath and all that we stood for.  It was a long wait for the Oathbangers, but I love that album and I know they appreciate that it eventually did come out and ultimately launched the band headlong back into active status.
- Since, you released one album a year… 2008 : “’Till Death Do Us Part”, 2009 : “Sacred Oath” and 2010 “World On Fire”… are you really that hungry for Metal ?
I suppose we're making up for lost time.  Maybe I feel like we have something to prove . . . that we still keep and defend the faith! I am so happy with the band that I just keep writing new songs, so why not?  The Oathbangers aren't complaining.  If I felt the records were weak, I wouldn't do it.  But I think they get stronger and stronger.
- How did it come you released a live-album ? Was it something you wanted to achieve for a long time ? How was that experience ?
You know, I had never even thought of doing a live album, but when I heard the tracks from that show I thought that the energy was great and why not release a live album?  In fact, we never intended to record a live album and it wasn't until after that show that I saw they had recorded it and I begged them to send me the tracks.  So in that sense it is a very pure recording;  no pre-meditation whatsoever about recording, but just pure concert energy.  And it is our first night in Europe ever, which is kinda cool.
- That album was recorded in Germany – what souvenir do you keep from that trip ? What’s your opinion on the European Metal scene and do you think it is really different from the US one ?
Honestly, that album is my souvenir from that trip.  It was a real bonus to come home with that and be able to reminisce about that experience by mixing and releasing it to metal fans worldwide.  Then, to have it be so enthusiastically accepted by the metal audience, well, we were humbled, and it had much to do with the band forging on and recording 2 more albums. 
You know, I haven't spent enough time in Europe to really know what the metal scene is like there, except that I know it has a healthy summer festival circuit.  Here in the US, it is a struggle for a traditional band like us.  Unless of course you are Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, or Ozzy Osbourne.
- Well, now it’s 2011… you have to defend the brand new album “Word On Fire”… Some words on it ? How can you qualify it compared to the previous band albums ? What could you say to give the readers the will to listen/buy it ?
"World On Fire" is on track towards becoming our most successful album yet, and I am happy about that because I do think it is a great album.  I feel like we broke some new ground and expanded our fanbase with these songs, especially with tracks like "Sandrider" and "Meet Your Maker."  We're not making a whole lot of money, so respect is very important to us - respect from the metal community - and this album is getting lots of it, and that makes me happy.  God knows how much effort goes into making an album, and you have to believe that your latest creation is your best, but to have that ratified by the fans is a triumph.
- Where & when & who recorded it ? I’m really amazed by the production, it’s really heavy and “crystal-clear” too ! Was it a long process to achieve such a great result ?
I have produced every Sacred Oath album at my studio Angel Thorne since "Revision" in 1998, and this one is definitely the best-sounding for those reasons you mentioned.  It is heavy AND very clear, so the power is there. I'm happy you think so too.  The band was pleased with this one all-around too.  I did spend more time mixing this record than any of the others.  In fact, I spent twice as much time mixing it as I did recording it, going back and forth from the mastering studio and making tweaks here and there until I was satisfied.
- What about the songs ? How did you compose them ? Was it a complete band work or did you come with you ideas and with the other members, you arranged them then ?
Usually I pass demos out to the band of songs I have written for the album and they put their parts to them.  This has been the way we have done them from the beginning.  Kenny and Brendan did each write a song for this album though.  For my part, I'm most comfortable putting a framework together for a song, letting the guys get their parts arranged, and then crafting the melodies, solos and guitar harmony work during the recording process.  That gives me freedom to make changes during the recording process and allows me to work creatively and quickly.
- What about the lyrics ? Who usually write them in the band ? I think they’ve a very important part in your music ? As much important as the music itself ?  What are they dealing with ? Your sources of inspirations… ?
I write most of the lyrics, and I would agree that they are an important part of our music.  The last few albums have addressed social, political, and ecological world-issues that are on most people's minds these days, and certainly mine.  On this last album, the "Dune" novel was a inspiration.  I found so many parallels with things happening in our world today and I thought the outer space setting would be a cool change for an Oath album.
- The lyrics of the album are mainly dark and sad…. Are you a pessimistic person ? What is the main idea behind “World On Fire”, even if the title is very explicit, can you detail a little bit, please ? Can you speak of a “concept-album” ?
"World On Fire" IS a concept album, and it is all about the characters and drama in the apocalyptic world that Frank Herbert presents in his novel.  I wouldn't say that I am a pessimistic person, but there are a lot of things that do piss me off and our music is an ideal place for me to get those things off my chest.  There is a hopelessness, and a sadness in "World On Fire," which is unique to that album, and I guess for the first time I feel this way about the future.  The title track really crushes at the end and leaves the listener in despair.  This was intentional.
- About your musical style, I’d say it is now a mix of bands like Judas Priest for the heavy side and Queensrÿche for the melodic one … at least, that’s what I feel when listening to your brand new album “World On Fire”… Do you agree ?
I would agree with that.  We have been described as a more aggressive Queensryche and that makes sense to me.  As long as we're talking about OLD Queensryche.  Their newer stuff hasn't appealed to me.
- You combine guitar and vocals… can’t you decide which job you prefer hehe ? Seriously, it is really surprising to see you’re behind both ? Does it need lotsa work and concentration to achieve this result ? Definitely, you’re not playing/singing primitive death/grind with unhearable growling vocals… it’s much more elaborated, both musics & vocals…
It isn't always easy.  I push myself to my limit in both areas, so I need rehearsals to feel comfortable before getting on stage.  Sometimes I wish I was lazier, and just sang or played guitar, but the truth is that I love both and really couldn't have it any other way.
- Are Metal Church, Jag Panzer, Watchtower, Heir Apparent for examples, bands you feel musically close to ?
I haven't listened to any of those bands much so I can't comment.  But I gather that may be where we fit in to the grand scheme of things.
- You work with Angel Thorne Music and Sentinel Steel Records… Small & indie structures… Do you think it’s easier to work with such structures than bigger labels ?
I have never worked with a major organization, so I wouldn't know.  Do I wish we had?  Yes.  I often wonder what Sacred Oath might have achieved had we attracted the support of a major label.  All I know is struggle;   struggle to make recordings, struggle to tour, struggle to be heard, struggle to be noticed.  My whole career has been a grass-roots indie campaign.  I do take a little pride in what success we have had because of this, and I'm grateful to those who have helped us along the way.  We couldn't have done a lot of things without the support we did receive.
- How did you team up with Sentinel Steel Records ?
Denis Gulbey called me out of the blue one day and wanted to reissue "A Crystal Vision."  Since then he has been very supportive of the band, even releasing "Darkness Visible" on his label, and of course helping to distribute everything else.
- And some words on Angel Thorne Music ? If I’m not wrong, this is your own label, right ? Why did you feel the need to start your own label ?
We had no other offers.  And after a bad experience with Mercenary Records in the 80s, I was wary of record labels, especially small independent ones.  Plus, in 1994, when I started Angel Thorne, the internet was new and fresh and having my own label seemed like a real possibility.  I had no idea what I was getting into!  It took years and many mistakes to get it to where it is now.
- OK, you’re from Connecticut – how is the scene there ? Some local bands to look for ?
The metal scene here is pretty average.  There are a couple local bands doing cool things.  Myopia, Kalibur.  I often wonder what it's like for a young band getting started these days.  There are so many bands to compete with!  At least Sacred Oath has street "cred" in the 80s with our debut album. 
- OK, as said, before, one album a year… so logically you have to unleash a new one this year ha ! Are there some new songs ready ? Do you know when this new one will be released – if there is plan for a new album…
I already have songs for a new album, but we're still writing, and I'm not inspired to get started recording yet.  For me, that is where the hard work is, and the time I put in the studio does take its toll on my family.  You may see an album of new material in 2012, I would guess. In the meantime, we have all kinds of exciting vinyl releases and bonus tracks on the horizon for this year.
- Any other plans ? DVD maybe ? A European visit would be also amazing ? Any plans to appear on European festivals this year ?
We REALLY want to come play in Europe but we can't seem to get invited to any of the festivals!  "World On Fire" is coming out on vinyl in March.  We're excited about that.  I think you will see the whole catalog on vinyl soon.  We're working with Metalizer Records in Germany.  Bernie Kreitmeyer is working hard to make these things happen.  I like him.
- OK, enough of SACRED OATH… can you tell us a few words about your other band SOUNDSCAPE… it’s another amazing band, I think really RUSH-influenced… Do you consider this band as as important as SACRED OATH or it is a side-project… ?
Soundscape was my main act from '95-'99, but since then I have been absorbed with Sacred Oath.  I did release "Grave New World" last year, but it got very little promotion or marketing.  I'm not sure people know about that album, but it is a great album.  I'm very proud of it.  I had a lot of frustration with Soundscape, because it was a great, great band and I thought we created some very powerful music, but it never really caught on.  And that's one reason I don't miss it.  I like playing guitar MUCH more than keyboards.  And Sacred Oath is so much fun !  Soundscape was HARD in a challenging sense.  Lots of notes, lots of pressure to be spot-on perfect all of the time.  It wasn't always easy to be passionate in that band, but I think I found a way . . .
- Where can the readers get more infos on this band ? Any web-page to check out ?- Thanks Rob for your time… last words are yours !
Sure, you can find stuff about Soundscape on Reverb Nation.  If you visit the Angel Thorne site, you can find your way there and hear some music (www.angelthorne.com). It was a pleasure Fab. Thank YOU for even being interested.  I know you have your hands full right now and I wish you and Bea the best.  You just have to believe things will turn out right.

> www.myspace.com/sacredoath
> www.sacredoath.net

Last Updated on Monday, 14 February 2011 16:53

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