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Frontiers / Now & Then FRCD 101
Produced by: Mark Boals

Released: December 10 / Website
Closest Relative: Yngwie Malmsteen
GENRE: Melodic Metal

  1. Prelude For The Oracle
  2. Circle Of Time
  3. Shadow In The Dark
  4. Vengeance For Blood
  5. Samurai
  6. City Of The Dead
  7. Dreams Of Empire
  8. The Oracle
  9. Interlude
  10. Land Of Illusion
  11. Take Me Home
  12. Face The Fire

With all due respect to Mark Boals and the rest of the team that make up the new band project Ring Of Fire, it won't take long to review this album.
That's not a bad thing! The fact is that this album is everything you would expect from the people involved, the music expected and even the titles of the songs pretty much spell out what is on offer.
First a little background. the vocalist is obviously Mark Boals, ex-singer for Yngwie Malmsteen, amongst other projects. His talent as a powerhouse metal vocalist is unquestioned.
This was and essentially still is, the sequel to his debut solo album, released this time last year.
The guys on this record joined Mark in the studio and it felt right to name it a band, which for fans of these guys, will hopefully continue.
The line up features Virgil Donati (Planet X, Southern Sons - drums), Vitalij Kuprij (Artension - keyboards), George Bellas (Mogg/Way - guitars) and Philip Bynoe (bass).
Now these fellows are all extremely experienced and sensational players in their own right, so the joining of them on one record should be something special.
Well, it's a great record - but whether you will consider it special or magic is down to definition of taste.
This is melodic power metal in it's purest form. Frantic double kick drum rhythms, flashy guitar solos and fast riffing, swirling keyboards and operatic organ drenched intro's and most importantly, loud and in your face high-pitched vocals.
Mark is a great singer and is capable of the big furious screaming numbers as well as the (few) slower passionate lower register songs. In essence, he is perfect for this genre of music and this album is a vehicle for his talents.
But unlike others he has worked with, everyone gets their time to shine. This album is produced and mixed to highlight all the instrumental contributions.
The only small criticism I could make of the record is that with everything going on within the record, the production at times sounds a little thin. Even though it is a clear and crisp sounding record, a more impactful rhythm section could have beefed the sound up even more.
BOTTOM LINE: If you are into Yngwie, Mark Boals, fast paced furious melodic metal, heavy progressive and European metal, then this is worth checking out. Certainly better than the last Yngwie album, with George Bellas on board, Boals now beats Yngwie at his own game.
Consider that this album is not for the feint hearted or the AOR fans out there and there should be no confusion!
ESSENTIAL FOR: Fans of Mark Boals, Yngwie Malmsteen and European melodic metal.
DISCOGRAPHY:Mark Boals - Ring Of Fire . The Oracle

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