Chad Bowar: Give us a preview of your self-titled album that comes out in May in the U.S.
Rob Thorne: It’s the best thing we’ve done yet, and it’s just amazing how quickly it all came together. But isn’t that always the way? We had a very clear vision of how we wanted to present ourselves on this new CD and it all just unfolded in front of us. There are ten songs on it, and each of them has a way of getting under your skin with catchy melodies. It’s a high-energy metal album for sure, lots of blazing guitar work, thundering drums, and soaring vocals.
For those not familiar with Sacred Oath, how would you describe the band’s sound?
Many call us “true” metal – and maybe that’s because we’re not about studio gimmicks. or maybe it’s because I sing! A lot of people compare us to Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Metallica. We were heavily influenced by each of those bands, but also bands like Mercyful Fate, Queensryche, and Megadeth. We have a dark and aggressive sound, but we’re not afraid of melody and dynamics. In the end, we’re Sacred Oath, and I think we’ve cut out our own little slice of the metal pie that is unique and interesting. We do that by always being true to ourselves and not deliberately imitating other bands.
What is your recording process like?
I like to get started in the studio as soon as I feel Kenny (Evans, drummer) and I are on the same page with the song structures. I just don’t have the patience for weeks of rehearsal! And we don’t need them. We’ve been playing together since we were 14 years old, we can practically jam telepathically. And as the band’s producer, I’m all about the energy that goes to tape in those drum and rhythm tracks. From there I let it unfold. Experimentation is a critical part of the recording process, especially in a metal band. If every guitar solo and vocal line was pre-scripted the result would be dull dull dull. You have to leave room for inspiration. I’m lucky to have a band that trusts me, that trusts where I’m ultimately going to go with a song. This latest album was written, recorded, and mixed in three months. I think that’s why it sounds so fresh.
What extras does the deluxe edition have?
The deluxe has four bonus songs and is an absolutely beautiful package. We were fortunate to work with famed album cover artist Ioannis this time around, and I think this album cover and design is some of the best work he’s ever done. The deluxe comes with a 16 page booklet with photos, lyrics, and art that he lovingly put together in a tri-fold digipack.
What are you guys doing with iTunes the week of April 7th?
Can you believe that iTunes chose a song off our new CD as their Discovery Download Pick Of The Week? We’re so excited to get that kind of promotion from them. The exclusive also includes iTunes selling the whole album a full 5 weeks ahead of the street date at a discounted price of $5.99. You can practically buy the album twice!
What led to your reforming Sacred Oath after 20 years apart?
I could make it a long complicated story, but essentially it was timing. For some reason, God knows why, it wasn’t the right time for Sacred Oath to continue in 1988. The obstacles were insurmountable for a pack of crazy teenagers just having fun. But that debut album released in 1987(Crystal Vision) had something. It was special enough to lodge itself in the metal consciousness, albeit underground, and ultimately the strength of that first effort brought us back to the studio ten years later in 1998 for a reunion ( A Crystal Revision).
But even then, the timing wasn’t right! We were all busy in other bands. But in 2005 the stars aligned, what can I tell you? We came together and recorded Darkness Visible and the success of that album lauched a rebirth. Deep down we always knew that Sacred Oath was the best thing we had ever done, and it was a lingering disappointment that it had been sidelined for so long. But looking back now, I have no complaints. Everything feels perfect, like it all happened for a reason. It’s great to be able to say that.
What were you up to during those two decades?
I went to college and got my B.A. When I finished in 1994 I created Angel Thorne Music as a record label and recording studio and through Angel Thorne wrote, recorded and released two rock operas and two albums with Soundscape. I was very active with Soundscape in the’ 90s touring and recording.
How many original members are part of the band today?
Only Kenny and I are original in the lineup today. Pete and Glen were unable to commit to touring in 2007 so it was a mutual agreement that we would move on without them. They are certainly missed- we were all best friends. But we’re all still on good terms, and the new lineup is STRONG. You can hear it on the live album ‘Till Death Do Us Part, and certainly on the new studio album. Billy and Scott are dyed deep into the fabric of the Oath at this point.
What has the fan response to your return been like?
The fan response has been so good, that honestly, I credit them for our return. I could not believe how many Oathbangers contacted us online to tell us how happy they were with Darkness Visible. It was encouraging, to say the least. Their enthusiasm ultimately got us invited to Europe and things just began to snowball from there.