Sunday, 11 September 2011

CD Review: The Time Of The Oath, by Helloween (1996)

Inspired by tales of Nostradamus, fortune telling, and the more mundane business of warfare, The Time Of The Oath is Helloween at close to their best, having perhaps lost the exuberance and innocence of youth but found the benefits of experience and improved proficiency in writing and delivery. Playful CD booklet art featuring animated pumpkins adds to the sense of a band comfortable in their identity and having plenty of fun.

Few of the songs are perfect, but almost all of them have excellent passages. Title track The Time Of The Oath closes off the album with a masterful bang, Helloween stitching together all the power elements with a monstrous bass and drum-heavy mid-pace melody onto which the vocals of Andi Deris just soar.

Earlier in the tracklist, Power is more traditional and less epic, but the souful lead guitar work nevertheless lifts it to an impressive peak. Before The War is distinguished by a magnificent instrumental section starting at the two minute mark that out-Irons the mighty Maiden, and lays a claim to be considered among the best 90 seconds in 1990s metal.  Mission Motherland, at more than 9 minutes, holds itself together remarkably well, and at the 3:30 mark detonates a bulldozer riff capable of excavating a monstrous hole to the core of planet metal, depending on the volume.

We Burn, Wake Up The Mountain and A Million To One offer more excellent metal forged in the highest quality foundries. What is lacking in innovation is made up for in professionalism and sparkle.

By the mid-1990s traditional power metal had to be perfectly seasoned to avoid being hokey, and The Time Of The Oath adds enough of the right spices to emerge as a leading example of the genre from that era.


Michael Weikath - Guitars
Uli Kusch - Drums
Andi Deris - Vocals
Roland Grapow - Guitars
Markus Grosskopf - Bass

Keyboards - Jorn Ellerbrock and Tommy Hansen.

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. We Burn - 8
2. Steel Tormentor - 7
3. Wake Up The Mountain - 8
4. Power - 9
5. Forever And One (Neverland) - 7
6. Before The War - 9 *see below*
7. A Million To One - 8
8. Anything My Mama Don't Like - 7
9. Kings Will Be Kings - 7
10. Mission Motherland - 9
11. If I Knew - 6
12. The Time Of The Oath - 10

Average: 7.92

Produced and Mixed by Tommy Hansen.
Engineered by Michael Tibes. Mastered by Ian Cooper.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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