Axel Rudi Pell
CIRCLE OF THE OATH
I've got to say this about Axel Rudi Pell. The guy (and/or the band) writes some of the best unmemorable music of anyone out there today. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but it is a fact. Every metalhead I know seemingly likes everything they hear from ARP. Over the last decade, I've not heard a single person badmouth this band at all. Yet, ask 10 metalheads that you know have heard previously released Axel Rudi Pell albums, and it's likely that 9 of them wouldn't be able to name a single song. It's very strange how they have created great music that just never seems to be that memorable.
With CIRCLE OF THE OATH, it's more of the same. As melodic, powerful metal goes, CIRCLE OF THE OATH is a fine album full of great guitar work, strong songs and soaring vocals. Without any question, this is a very strong album. Yet, I know for a fact in six months I won't remember the name of a single song. For now though, I do so let's look at it.
The namesake of the band may be guitarist Axel Rudi Pell, but the standout performer on CIRCLE OF THE OATH is vocalist Johnny Gioeli. Known for his work in Hardline, Gioeli has proven over several albums now that he's one of the most quality singers in this genre or any other. His voice is crystal clear as always here. His powerful pipes work masterfully over the mid-tempo riffs of the album's best track, "Circle Of The Oath". While he's certainly not held with the same esteem as the great vocalists, his work with Axel Rudi Pell has proven Gioeli to be as strong as any of the legends of the power metal genre. One interesting factor to his voice is how he and Sheldon Tarsha of Tarsha and Adler's Appetite favor each other vocally. A song like "Fortunes Of War" could easily be mistaken for Tarsha material.
As with any ARP albums, the guitar work is always masterful. It is once again here. Simply put, Axel Rudi Pell is one of the best, yet unheralded guitar players out there today. He has been since his days with Steeler, to be honest. Pell once again brings his unique combination of Scorpions-esque German metal sound with a much more bluesy vibe to each and every cut on CIRCLE OF THE OATH. Songs like "Bridges To Nowhere" have a Judas Priest-like quality guitarwise, which truly powers the song and the whole record.
PITRIFF RATING - 86/100 - There's no arguing that CIRCLE OF THE OATH is another pleasing effort from Axel Rudi Pell. Will this be the one that takes him over the top? Probably not, but that doesn't take away from the majestic qualities of this effort. Solid stuff from Pell and company.