Ring Of Fire - The Oracle

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Frontiers Records
Catalog Number: FRCD 209
Format: CD
Total Time: 61:27:00

Mark Boals' Ring Of Fire disc has now turned into its own band called, intriguingly, Ring Of Fire and this (or his) new disc is called The Oracle. The original featured Mark Boals (v/b/g), Tony MacAlpine (g/b), Virgil Donati (d), and Vitalij Kurpij (k). For the follow-up, Donati has returned to the fold and Tony MacAlpine was replaced by George Bellas (Mogg/Way) who was soon replaced by Philip Bynoe (Steve Vai Band). Are you still with me? Barry Dunaway (b - Pat Travers, Malmsteen) was also added to complete the line-up. In hindsight, whilst I very much enjoyed Mark Boals' Ring Of Fire, it had shortcomings in the song-writing department, lacking a certain completeness. Now all of that is out of the way... on to the music.

The Oracle is a dynamic mix of Artension (although the band is not defined by the keys), Yngwie Malmsteen, the neo-classical virtue of Narnia and Symphony X, and the progressiveness of Planet X and ARK. So, meld all of the musicians' other/previous bands and you have Ring of Fire! Each instrument sounds clear and concise (production courtesy of Mark and Vitalij and mixed by Erik Norlander) and it never really fails. There are no drown-outs, muddy sounds, or shortcomings. Virgil Donati is an amazing drummer - his technical finesse is quite exquisite and he plays with deft hands (and feet). He sounds just so "real." Vitalij "the tyrant" Kuprij manages classical pieces faultlessly and his battles with George Bellas on guitars are so intense. I love to hear a good twin guitar attack but a keyboard/guitar attack like this doesn't come along that often (Stratovarius). Vitalij has such a natural feel about his playing that all great keyboardists have. Mark's vocals will hinder some people from enjoying this fully as he sings with wild abandon at times and in many ways he hits the same note song after song. For me, his melodies can't be faulted (he wrote them for himself) and he has a hell of a range on him that he can hold nicely (and seeing him live is like being pierced in the ear). But that will annoy some people. Cover art once again is courtesy of Eric Phillippe (Mob Rules, Riot, Sonata Arctica).

Overall then, Ring of Fire is not focused on any one instrument and whilst they all come together beautifully, each gets an opportunity to showcase their talents. The Oracle is heavy, melodic, powerful, and at times plays at a breakneck speed. This is a very fine album indeed surely up in the top echelon of progressive/neo-classical releases of the year 2001.

[This review originally appeared November 2002 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]

Prelude For The Oracle (1:39) / Circle Of Time (5:31) / Shadow In The Dark (4:30) / Vengeance For Blood (5:45) / Samurai (6:51) / City Of The Dead (5:50) / Dreams Of Empire (5:26) / The Oracle (8:14) / Interlude (0:50) / Land Of Illusion (6:31) / Take Me Home (5:29) / Face The Fire (4:50)

Vitalij Kuprij - keyboards
George Bellas - guitars
Mark Boals - vocals
Philip Bynoe - bass
Virgil Donati - drums

Mark Boals - Ignition (1998)

Mark Boals - Ring Of Fire (2000)
The Oracle (2001)
Burning Live In Tokyo 2002 (2002)
Mark Boals - Edge Of The World (2002)
Dreamtower (2002)
Lapse Of Reality (2004) Mark Boals - The Chronicles (2011)
Battle Of Leningrad (2014)

Burning Live In Tokyo 2002
(DVD) (2002)

Genre: Melodic Metal

Origin VA

Added: February 20th 2005
Reviewer: Gary Carson
Artist website: www.markboalsofficial.com
Hits: 1088
Language: english


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