Roots of the Old Oak – The Devil and His Wicked Ways

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Listening to Roots of the Old Oak takes you right back to the early nineties, to the time when the Peaceville triumvirate of My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost and Anathema ruled supreme as masters of misery. Hailing from those same shores of Albion, this outfit’s debut album ‘The Devil and His Wicked Ways’ is a celebration of those hallowed times.

The band may be fairly new, but these musicians have a long history together, having all of them been in the black metal oriented and much faster Reign of Erebus as well as Slaughter of Souls. They’ve been inactive for about 15 years, but at some point just decided to dust off their instruments, as the devil in his wicked ways will always lure you back.

Despite the title, there is little diabolical or satanic going on here.  Thematically, they are a bit of an oddball in the death doom genre which generally is all about loss and despair, while these chaps mostly take their inspiration from pagan lore which is usually hunting grounds for folk metal. Little folk to be found here though. The first track ‘I Defy Thee’ is as bombastic as the title would suggest, with sweeping synths, sorrowful leads and a guitar tone that reminds a bit of the old (or new) Celestial Season. Also, the grunts bring that band to mind.

‘Cheating the Hangman’ crosses that fine line over into melodic death metal, being a lot faster and nastier in its vocal delivery. Treading heavily on prominent bass lines in the intro, ‘Forest Dweller’ chugs through a heavy, almost Bolt Thrower style barrage.

‘A Ballad of Two Ravens’ is a short instrumental interlude that eschews any acoustic doodling, but actually has a pretty badass riff in it. Sweet and short. The title track is stylistically closer to the opening song with slowly meandering, tear inducing guitars in the purest tradition.

‘Cosmic Dark Age’ takes the hero worship one step further as it openly pays homage to My Dying Bride until halfway through these pagans discover some strange looking weeds in the forest and decide to start smoking them. Another great song with some surprised stoner action hidden in the middle.

‘Allfather (A Wanderer’s Tale)’ starts off in familiar fashion with solid, memorable riffing that carry throughout the song with nigh a vocal in sight. Along his wanderings Wotan does pick up some strange, yet cool spacey synths. Maybe a flashback from those weird herbs from earlier. Despite all that, the Allfather did find his way back to Valhalla eventually on the closing track ‘Take the Throne’ with another great set of earworm doomy riffs.


  • Music / Songwriting 8/10
  • Vocals / Lyrics 8/10
  • Mix / Production 8/10
  • Artwork & Packaging 8/10
  • Originality 7/10

Undistilled death doom straight from the nineties.

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