AXEL RUDI PELL – Circle Of The Oath (2012)

AXEL RUDI PELL - Circle Of The Oath (2012) limited edition bonus
Digipak Limited Edition + bonus + poster


Prolific German guitar player Axel Rudi Pell has a tremendous career so far. On the new album “Circle Of The Oath” (his 14th), continues his love for the very traditional, straight ahead hook-laden power influenced hard rock, including the classic strong ballad and the epic arrangements that brings out the air guitarist in most who enjoy this genre.

Axel has a formula that works really well for him, and seems for many music fans too, as the man has sold more than 1,5 million albums to date. He is not afraid to wear his Dio / Rainbow / Blackmore influences on his sleeve, and he does it very well, in fine shape and style.
Johnny Gioeli delivers a powerhouse vocal performance as usual, while the drums courtesy of Mike Terrana are top notch and keep the traditonal metal vibe going through this release.
Axel isn’t a shredder, his style of soloing is more from the Blackmore, Schenker and Moore mould where pieces build from sparse notes bends to faster runs. I never considered Pell an eminent guitarist, but really effective and clever.
The key factor in “Circle Of The Oath” is the quality of the tunes, and if you’re a fan of this classy genre you will find plenty moments of joy here. Some of the tunes do have an amazing musical depth, probably more than ever before.
Another notable difference is in the lyrics, nowhere near as cheesy as they have been on past albums. Gone are the Kings, Queens, crowns and pyramids, now replaced by themes like life, death, loss, war, love.

“Circle Of The Oath” makes you think of ’80s DIO; melodic, heavy, punchy hard rock music.
After the serene introduction “The Guillotine Suite”, “Ghost In The Black” is one of the fastest tracks of the album, filled with rapid guitar work, powerful keyboards and very solid vocals courtesy of Johnny Gioeli.
Follower “Run With the Wind” is a high energy number tailor-made for live audience involvement, with Gioeli’s strong, bluesy enhanced range befitting the classic mold of Dio, Bonnet and Gillian.
“Before I Die” is a catchy and accessible hard rock track with a classic atmosphere, a staple that Axel Rudi Pell has had over their whole career. One of my favs in this CD.

Another standout cut for me is the title track “Circle Of The Oath”, an epic nine-minute song with a nod to Zeppelin via Whitesnake. The opening third of the song has fine acoustic parts with Gioeli gaining the chance to flex a lot of his lower and mid-range with thick harmonies, before the heavier electric parts and the dark keyboard segments hit a home run in the chorus.
Then we have the heavy and lumbering “Bridges to Nowhere”, and an attempt at an anthem in “Lived Our Lives Before”.
Continuing the band’s tradition of featuring tasty power ballads in their albums, Pell’s clean skills come into focus on the heartfelt “Lived Our Lives Before”, a lights in the air tune embellished with sweet keyboards and a good guitar solo.
“Hold On To Your Dreams” is pretty heavy yet melodic, followed by the epic “World Of Confusion” where the pacing mirrors Rainbow and Dio.
This Limited Edition Digipak (which includes a poster of the cover artwork), features as bonus track a hot version of Rainbow’s “Temple Of The King”, recorded live at the Bang Your Head Festival 2011.

You have to understand something about Axel Rudi Pell; he has a sonic formula that works for him and from album to album he doesn’t stray from it.
On “Circle Of The Oath” they keep the ball rolling once more. It’s hook laden, traditional hard rock, very much in the Rainbow / Dio vein, cohesive and effective.
The songs are solidly well written and arranged, there’s interesting deep musical passages and good lyrics, but the honest truth is that “Circle of the Oath sounds exactly like Pell’s previous albums.
It’s truly enjoyable while it’s spinning, powerful and with a superb production.
So, if you love Axel Rudi Pell’s formula then by all means pick up a copy of “Circle Of The Oath”.

1. The Guillotine Suite (Intro)
2. Ghost In The Black
3. Run With The Wind
4. Before I Die
5. Circle Of The Oath
6. Fortunes Of War
7. Bridges To Nowhere
8. Lived Our Lives Before
9. Hold On To Your Dreams
10. World Of Confusion (The Masquerade Ball Pt. II)
Limited Edition Bonus Track:
11. The Temple Of The King (live at Bang Your Head Fest 2011)

Johnny Gioeli – Lead and Backing Vocals
Axel Rudi Pell – Lead, Rhythm and Acoustic Guitars
Volker Krawczak – Bass
Ferdy Doernberg – Keyboards
Mike Terrana – Drums & percussion


You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.