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Biggest difference with Master Of The Rings is that this album sounds more cohesive. The balance is much better and as a whole the album is purely a power metal album from start to finish. Except for one song that is. The average pace is slightly higher this time and also there are more guitar harmonies within songs.
However unlike many others I think Deris’ performance on this album is less impressive than on “Master of The Rings” and albums that came after this. On the previous album he sang a bit more raw and raspier. This time he tries more clear falsetto vocals but it becomes obvious he loses a lot of power when he does so. Kiske sounded more powerful when he sang higher and higher. With Deris however it is the other way around. What happens a lot on this album is that some songs do not achieve an epic touch because the falsetto vocals at certain points fail to give some songs a deserved powerful climax.
As a result of this some songs don’t have a chorus that is majestic nor impressive enough to make them rise from decency. A good example is “Power”. The song has potential and is light weight speed metal we knew from Helloween in the eighties. The song is good, but unfortunately not excellent.
“Before The War” does a better job. Now this is a song which is fast and has so many strong parts it can easily compete with eighties Helloween. Also “Kings Will Be Kings” is one of the best power metal songs here.
Opener “We Burn” is a simple and enjoyable up tempo opener with a decent speed metal chorus and dito riffing. Second song “Steel Tormentor” has more in common with mid-eighties Iron Maiden than Helloween. Except for the double bass drums this song sounds like the Piece Of Mind / Powerslave period but with Paul Di’Anno’s brother doing vocals. Strong song though.
The titletrack “The Time of the Oath” gives me mxed feelings. Everytime I heard this song live it was one of my favorites. This studio version however is lacking something. Maybe it’s heaviness, maybe it’s Deris’ vocals which are more powerful live. I’m not sure what it is exactly. Good live song though.
Now for the bad section of the album. “Forever and One” is pretty awful. Imagine the song with a female vocalist and you’d have the cheesiest Nightwish/Within Temptation song. Of course those bands were not as big back then and in those days I obviously couldn’t compare Helloween to them. But looking back now it is obvious.
“A Million to One” and “Wake Up the Mountain” are mid paced sin-a-long tunes but far from impressive (except for the middle section of “Wake Up the Mountain” which is impressive). The verses and chorusses sound much more generic than for instance the old classic “I want Out” and “Future World” did. These songs would have been decent coming from a Helloween clone, but not the masters themselves.
Funny thing is that after “A Million to One” the next song “Anything My Mama Don't Like” sounds pretty enjoyable. It is a hardrock tune with groovy touch and balances between the Pink Bubbles and Chameleon albums yet has little to do with the power metal approach on the rest of the album. But because it is so much better than “A Million to One” it becomes refreshing at that point. When changing the tracklisting on the album it has far less impact though and sounds like a funny B-side.
Now for “Mission Motherland”. The length promises an epic track. It is not however. It is a stretched mid paced pounder with an overlong middle section and a rather average chorus. Not a bad song, not at all, but just nothing more than decent.
So even though it is slightly more cohesive than Master Of The Rings it still is an inch short of the best Deris-era works.