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An underrated power metal classic. - 87%

Nightcrawler, September 19th, 2003

Holy fucking hell, where did this come from? Master of the Rings was a pretty damn good album, but there was still no sign of the greatness that was to come only two years later.
The Time of the Oath is only my sixth favourite Helloween album in fact, but it is nonetheless completely amazing. The production is instantly noticeable- the difference from Master of the Rings to this one is spectacular. It's thick, it's powerful and it gives the album all the intensity and explosivity (is that a word?) it deserves. The guitars especially sound ten thousand times better, which alone increases the overall quality of the album alot, since Helloween like any other metal bands obviously rely heavily on the guitarwork.
The band also sound much tighter and well organized, they really work like a well-oiled machine in this one. But the biggest notable change is still in the songwriting. Master of the Rings was very good, but this is incredible. The actual style is pretty similar to the previous album, although the general pace of the songs has increased quite alot. And of course, the quality has increased hugely. This is classic power metal of the very best kind, through almost the entire album. A few of the songs don't quite reach up to the general standard of the album, but they are few and the difference is rather marginal.
The lyrics also seem a bit more serious for the most part. They are still in the traditional fun-loving Helloween vein, but there are no all-out silly moments like there were on most of the previous offerings.

What we have here, is that the band totally puts their heart and soul into the album, and manages to whip out intense, asskicking riffs, fun and memorable vocal lines and tons of divine lead sections like only Helloween can do them.

We Burn and Steel Tormentor start things out with a solid kick in the sternum. Fast paced power metal with speed tendencies, loads of melodies, and overall ownage straight through. Steel Tormentor is in fact one of the album's best songs, and a true Helloween classic.
Wake Up The Mountain is a bit more experimental, with very cool bass highlightings during the verses and a quite different atmosphere. The solo is also completely mental. Power goes back to the style of the first two, and is just as amazing. Forever And One (Neverland) is the first of the album's two ballads, and is in fact one of the best Deris-era ballads ever. Like any Helloween ballad it's very, very emotional and cheesy. It's a love-hate thing, and I fall into the former category.
Before The War is the best song on the entire album. Speed metal based riffwork with a lethal dose of melody, fast sung vocal lines whose awesomeness cannot be put into words, and a mindblowing guitar solo are all standout factors on this power metal masterpiece.
A Million To One is another pretty different tune. Midpaced, melodic, fairly emotional and has a very interesting atmosphere overall. Not one of the highlights, but a great song nonetheless. Anything My Mama Don't Like seems to be the least well-liked song on here. But of course, I love it. Fast and catchy riffwork, killer lyrics and more splendid soloing- and of course the strange, silly ending. Kings Will Be Kings is standard Helloween: Pretty fast and heavy underlying riffwork with excellent melody lines supporting the memorable vocal lines, a great chorus and whatnot. Mission Motherland reaches over 9 minutes, and has a semi-epic atmosphere and a killer middle section featuring a bunch of heavy riffs and solos.
If I Knew is the second ballad on the album, and is yet another masterpiece of cheese. It's a beautiful acoustic track with a more sad atmosphere than Forever Than One, although it's not quite as good.
We close of with the title track, which is another of the highlights. It has this really dark and scary atmosphere over it, and is quite unlike anything the band has done before. It is also insanely heavy, and has these really cool Latin backing vocals towards the end. A magnificent closer to a magnificent album.

With The Time of the Oath, Helloween reclaims the title of Power Metal Gods, and rightfully so. And they just seem to get better with each record.