If anything, resolute and constant guitarist Axel Rudi Pell is prolific and consistent. Largely, this is due to the simple fact that he lives and breaths guitar playing. Pell regularly, even daily, practices and writes new material. The result is his 14th studio album, Circle of the Oath.
Another strength for Axel is a consistent band; most have been with him for 14 years or better. But it's his name on the label, so any consideration of Circle of the Oath is essentially a referendum upon him. Then there's no disputing his guitar skills. And when it comes to song composition, Pell remains a player in the band. Not everything is a pure platform for his fret fireworks. That's a very good thing.
First spin of this disc made me think of Eighties Dio; there's something about the music, themes, and the timbre of Johnny Gioeli's voice that reminds me of the late great Ronnie James. But ultimately the comparison is likely futile.
The album starts strong with power metal of Ghost in the Black, rock metal of Run with the Wind, and the very accessible and catchy Before I Die. The title cut is signature Pell, simply epic and stirring. Fortunes of War turns, again, on that catchy sensibility, a fine tune.
Then listening is dragged down by the heavy and lumbering Bridges to Nowhere and an attempt at an anthem in Lived Our Lives Before. Hold on to Your Dreams attempts at positive thinking possibilities in melodic metal, and generally succeeds. But it doesn't quite match Before I Die. Circle of the Oath closes on another epic note, World of Confusion, a solid number that only reminds you of Pell's inherent extravagance in song composition.
The simple conclusion: Circle of the Oath is Axel Rudi Pell in his most consistent and grand form. Expect no less. Recommended.
Circle of the Oath is Axel Rudi Pell in his most consistent and grand form. Expect no less.
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