Axel Rudi Pell is an artist that is not only well-known and respected among the metal fans but also a guitarist that all these years has recorded some of the most memorable guitar solos ever. His records are distinguished by an undeniable compositional quality, inspired guitar work (influenced by the one and only Ritchie Blackmore) and remarkable productions. In addition, all the singers that has passed through the band’s ranks were excellent but truth be told here, Johnny Gioeli who has been behind the mic in the last 15 years is by far the best of them all. However, all the albums display a similar aesthetic approach and atmosphere (which is obvious even in the artwork of the sleeves) that might estrange those who seek sonic novelties and musically groundbreaking realms. But, I am sure by now everybody knows where Pell stands.

His new album, “Circle of the Oath” is not by any means an exception. Again, we encounter an impressive arsenal of qualitative compositions, the band is flawless, Pell takes us by storm with his solos, Gioeli uplifts the songs with his characteristic, raspy voice and all in all this is an album that will be cherished and embraced by all the fans of the melodic metal genre. Oddly enough, the title track starts with a Zeppelin-esque intro (only to be followed by an epic middle section) while the closing “World of Confusion” is the sister song to the classic “The Masquerade Ball”.

Axel Rudi Pell fills with a total success a seemingly irreplaceable void left by a certain black-dressed guitar wizard who decided to abandon the six-string goddess and take up…banjo lessons!

Highlight: I really liked the cover of “Circle of the Oath”…come to think about it, more than any other that we were treated by an Axel Rudi Pell release in the last few years.