Ring Of Fire - The Oracle

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

Vitalij Kuprij. George Bellas. Mark Boals. Philip Bynoe. Virgil Donati. A lineup boasting two or three of them would have been more than sufficient to raise quite some eyebrows and voracious expectations, but no, these guys had to have their cake and eat it, too. Truth be told, it immediately looks like a band dreamt up in heaven and cast upon the Earth to bring a furiously impressive album to existence and set fire to the seven seas with flair, originality, and astonishing technique. Problem is, someone forgot to tell them that on their way down.

Of course, the playing on behalf of each musician is superb, and the production of The Oracle is as glossy and crystal clear as a Mercedes' rearview mirror, not to mention the fact that every single nook and corner of neoclassical metal is covered with flawless expertise. But it just sounds so incredibly jaded, as if these guys had turned on autopilot and gone out for mental lunch while the album was being both written and recorded. And in a way it's really no surprise, as supergroups are quite well known for their statistically provable high chances of not quite doing it the way they're supposed to. Add to that the indisputable truth that neoclassical practically hit a wall years ago with but a couple of exceptions, and Artension's going-by-the-book lack of surprise, and The Oracle is actually just business as usual.

Then again, one would have a rather hard time thinking of several other bands with the unquestionable ability of going through business as usual as well as Ring Of Fire does. Despite their uninventive baroque counterpoint majesty, the organ instrumentals "Prelude For The Oracle" and "Interlude" are quite enjoyable, and the band seems to start hitting its stride towards the end of the record, which coincidentally is when things get heavier and a bit more complicated, although never quite breathtaking. Elsewhere, things are basically what anyone would expect from a neoclassical band: dazzling sweep arpeggios accompanied by daring keyboard runs, catchy melodic vocals, teenager lyrics about samurais, revenge, swords, and the like, and basically more of the same old song and dance.

Yet chances are that if you're a diehard neoclassical metal fanatic the same old song and dance is exactly what you want, and the more flash and familiarity, the better. If that's the case, you're about to be one happy camper; this album has gone overboard in matters of quenching your neoclassical thirst for months. The rest of the world, I'm afraid, may not be so thrilled with The Oracle, myself included.

Similar artists: Artension, early Symphony X, Yngwie Malmsteen

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: June 2nd 2002
Reviewer: Marcelo Silveyra
Artist website: www.markboalsofficial.com
Hits: 672
Language: english


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