As a vocalist with the name ‘Pamtera,’ it’s hard to imagine an album containing anything other than body lashing heavy metal, and the debut record from Canadian rockers Boneyard doesn’t fall too short from that expectation. The cover art for ‘Oathbreaker’ alone conjures steampunk allegiance and gothic elegance with a plethora of unyielding power metal excreting through the pores, the experience gained from starting out in 2015 as a cover band being beneficial to the outfit.
Galloping drums and power metal riffs kick off in the albums first single and opening track ‘Fates Warning,’ as Dennis Cooke’s Iron Maiden drenched cantering bass lines are united with Pamtera’s gravelly femme vocals that birth a reassuring modernised lovechild of Heart and Pat Benetar. Standing at a fierce 6:10, the twin guitar solos from Pamtera and Grant Tarapaki plummets into an apocalyptic vortex and Jeff Cunningham’s double kick drum outro accentuates the medieval battle lyrical theme.
As the albums more commercial track, ‘Gone’ enters with distorted glam rock guitars and drum fills with stadium pop choruses; “My mind’s in a suitcase with two feet out the door. And I’m gone.” Building on the 80s inspired song-writing, the slower mid tempo track of ‘Evil Ways’ articulates Foreigner and Quartflash’s ‘Harden My Heart,’ the ballad lyrically dealing in love turned sour; “Things break down, doors start locking. You turn away, you start running away. I’m talking about your evil ways, caught in your evil.”
‘Smoke in the Sky’ exploits even more charging gallops in the verses riff, the bewitching sound parading confidently as ‘Barracuda’ in disguise. The vocals and melodies take shape from Tequila Mockingbird and The Amorettes, but are lyrically cliche and frivolous as the middle of the record slows to an unexciting standstill with title track ‘Oathbreaker’, ‘Rat Race’ and ‘Monster.’ ‘Rat Race’ manifests a dubious surfer-styled riff that would sit comfortably in a retro 8-bit video game and the horror slashing werwolf howl that introduces ‘Monster’ feels outdated and overdone, but the saving grace of guitar solos galore shine blindingly bright throughout each track.
As the title suggests, the opening riff to ‘Born Again’ attains heavy metal redemption and breathes a new lease of life into the record with a more rugged rock n roll ring, along with ‘Tune Attacks’ outlaw and drunken lyrics; “born to lose, where’s the booze, well hop in baby let’s cruise. I paid my dues and the work is done, let’s go out tonight let’s have some fun.”
The record ends on ‘Catch Me If You Can,’ taking a back seat from the albums resilient inception and exposing a more reserved finale.
As far as debut records go, the accomplished musicians in Boneyard combine their experiences to create a nostalgic trip down memory lane with ‘Oathbreaker,’ and their catalogue will no doubtedly slip effortlessly into national and international festival slots.
'Oathbreaker' is out now on all streaming platforms, and to stay up to date with touring and band information click here.
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