Sometimes one critical element can trip a band up. Exhibit A: Boston-based OXBLOOD FORGE, a band specializing in classic heavy metal with a doomy tinge. That kind of material is right up the Doctor’s alley, but one thing brings my enjoyment of the band to a screeching halt. “Screeching” is the correct term, because the vocals of Ken Mackay are 100% amateur hour.

It doesn’t take long at all for Mackay’s tuneless shrieks to manifest. From the first second his voice appears on the hard-driving ‘Into The Abyss’, you can tell something is way out of whack. I get the impression that Mackay is trying for the same harsh yet melodic tone that Tim Baker of CIRITH UNGOL is known for. Well, it’s proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that Tim Baker alone can master that tone. The vocals on this track are painful to hear. The music is also in the vein of CIRITH UNGOL as well as METAL CHURCH and TYRANT.

There’s nothing too original about what OXBLOOD FORGE is doing, but with the proper vocals, they’d be easy to take. Occasionally Mackay does demonstrate a more normal singing voice, as on ‘Forged In Fire’ and the ANGELWITCH cover ‘Sorceress’, which works better for him. But even this better tone is kind of flat. He just does not compute.

Even with proper singing, this would be middle of the road heavy metal. But with the singing on display here, it’s no wonder OXBLOOD FORGE had to release this record independently. Not many labels are going to buy into Decimator.
Review By: Dr. Abner Mality

2 / 6