OK, let's get the shit out of the way first shall we? 'Circle Of The Oath' comes in four formats: cd, digipac cd (containing the only bonus live track and a poster), double blue fucking marble vinyl LP (Vinyl? And limited to 1000 copies worldwide too, Why?) in gatefold sleeve no less and a box set that includes all the previous plus a sticker, postcard and, I quote, "two more gimmicks". Except for the one bonus track very format has the same track list and apart from the spliff friendliness of the vinyl sleeves there seems to be no real incentive to buy anything other than the cd.
As a fully paid up, card carrying member of the farty army, my money, time and patience do not come easy or cheap and the damn rent always needs paying. So when bands put out albums on multiple formats with no discernible differences that matter I get really fucking pissed off. 'Circle Of The Oath' is a cynical case in point and what's the betting it will get a re-mastered and re-packaged reissue within the next two years?
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It's OK realising the full commercial potential of your product but this, I think oversteps the fine line between commercial sense and taking the fucking piss. In short, it's all just a bit shitty. There is an irony too because absolutely none of the corporate bullshit is necessary. Why? Well, let me tell you.
When it comes to this sort melodic power Metal no one does it better than the Germans and 'Circle Of The Oath' is a class A1 top notch dollop of the stuff. Nearer the commercial sheen of Scorpions than the martial stomp of Accept it's a whopping chunk of the sort of melodic Teutonic Metal that air guitars were made for.
It sounds good on cd but live I suspect it will sound immense. Be warned though because the album's opening track, 'The Guillotine Suite' is a faux majestic piece that is a twee Spinal Tap moment waiting to happen. Pissing in an empty bucket would sound more grandiose.
Mercifully this is remedied when the album kicks in good and proper with 'Ghost In The Black' and from that point on proceeds to Metalizing your head. The album is peppered with killer tracks but try the aforementioned 'Ghost In The Black' and the title track with its sunny acoustic intro and Middle Eastern groove. 'Run With The Wind', 'Fortunes Of War' and 'Hold on To Your Dreams' are pure Metal delights and the epic 'World Of Confusion' draws the album to a close.
With 'Circle Of The Oath' Axel Rudi Pell has come pretty close to creating a near perfect beast. The band is superb, especially Johnny Gioeli's vocals, which bring the sort of class that Hardline benefitted from, the album has depth and shade, the song writing is great and the production has not polished out all the rough edges, letting the album breath.
'Circle Of The Oath' is a cracking sixty plus minute bang for your bucks that makes all the cynical promo bollocks look rather pointless.
Eximius melodic vox Metal. Get it.