From the first note to its last, the music on this album is pretty much exactly what Axel Rudi Pell fans would have expected from him. He has stuck to what he does best. In terms of speed and the overall vibe, the entire album is very laid back. Ghost In The Black, "Run With The Wind", "Before I Die", "Fortunes Of War" and "Hold On To Your Dreams" are typically catchy mid-tempo power metal tunes decorated with ARP's gripping solos. The other four tracks go into ballad territory, some of them more deeply so than others.
But the deepest, most intense and easily the best track on the album is the 10-minute epic title track. It features some amazing acoustic guitar work by ARP, well complemented by Johnny Gioeli's highly expressive vocals. It's an extremely dark, exotic and powerful composition, and showcases the skills of ARP and his band mates to the maximum. In fact, it's these slower tunes on which ARP has really shone through, and in my opinion this aspect of the album gives it the unique ARP touch which separates it from the other power metal/melodic hard rock albums out there.
When it comes to comparing this effort to ARP's previous thirteen, I wouldn't say he has done things much differently. But, some of the tunes do have amazing musical depth, probably more than ever before. Another notable difference is in the lyrics. They are certainly nowhere near as cheesy as they have been on past albums. Gone are the kings, queens, crowns and pyramids, now replaced by themes like life, death and war. This is good and bad, because on the one hand it gives more depth and intensity to the music, but it also takes the fun element out of it, albeit to a small degree.
Overall, Axel Rudi Pell's newest effort "Circle Of The Oath" is sheer testimony to the fact that there is no end in sight for this brilliant guitarist, and yet again, he has churned out an excellent set of tunes.