Axel Rudi Pell
Circle Of The Oath
4/10/2013 - Review by: Eric Compton
Still needs some life
This German mainstay has been around since the 80s, counting now something like fourteen studio efforts and a fan following that is "Legion" at the Euro fests. Axel Rudi Pell has probably maintained the most solid lineup of anyone, still incorporating the same musicians for twelve years. That is a bit of a dilemma when you are looking at studio output and overall "diversity". If the same influences and talent are involved day in and day out how can a band mature and evolve? That is the age old question plaguing the Germans (see Edguy/Rage) and one that is difficult to answer. Nevertheless record fourteen (thereabouts) is upon us in "Circle Of The Oath" and with it comes the same tradition of good Axel Rudi Pell records that compete head to head with ninety percent of the Euro metal fare.
Pell produces once again and gains some assistance from Charlie Bauerfeind (Rage, Helloween, Blind Guardian). The drums are laid down at Twilight Hall and Johnny Gioeli's vocals are recorded off shore in Connecticut (of all things). Eleven tracks make out the album including a live closer to this, a cover of Rainbow's "Temple Of The King" recorded at "Bang Your Head" in 2011 (and further proof that Pell's fans are "Legion").
Since 2000 the band have perfected the "Eternal Idol" sound mapped out by Black Sabbath in the 80s. No one does the "Headless Cross/Eternal Idol" sound better than Pell and company and they prove that again with another superb album. Many have tried this, including Rondinelli, Empire and even Astral Doors. This type of precise metal is draped in medieval charm, strong vocals, a touch of keys and a strong set of riffs that blend hard rock and heavy metal (invented by Deep Purple/Rainbow). Listen to Gioeli belt out the numbers on "Ghost In The Black" (great riff) and "Fortunes Of War", all brimming with that classic metal guitar and Terrana's tight patterns. The band knows where the magic lies, building huge epics in "Bridges To Nowhere" and "World Of Confusion (Masquerade Ball II)". The band hits their stride on the effective builder "Circle Of The Oath", one part Zeppelin, one part Badlands and the chorus chomping down on Sabbath's monster groove.
Still in light of all that greatness a sense of familiarity arises. I've heard some of these riffs before on other albums. See "Run With The Wind" and its blatant rip off of Pell's own "Warrior" from "Between The Walls". "World Of Confusion" is a continuation of the original riff found on the band's first "Masquerade Ball" track. The riff in the middle of "Circle Of The Oath" is fantastic to hear but still seems dated considering this chorus is similar to "Magic" or "Black Moon Pyramid". While the band still put out quality records and have been since '89 I find that the material still needs some life. I know Pell has more stories to tell and no matter how great a guitarist he is there still has to be challenges out there for him. Anyone who knows me understands my love of all things German but considering the "legends" are starting to recycle...it just seems a little disheartening to me. "Circle Of The Oath" may be just that...and endless circle.
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