Review Summary: Helloween forgets what made their previous albums great.
The power metal titans, riding off the heels of their best album yet, were beginning to earn back fans across the world; many of which were pleased with the return to the Power Metal sound that they created, and were looking forward to an even stronger follow-up to Master of the Rings. However, not all was praise, as the album was stated to be a concept album about Nostradamus’s prophecies. Helloween’s usually questionable lyrics (“So I’ll take my life back from where the rain grows…”) would now be focusing on a perplexing and unnecessary topic, and worries rose for good reason. The overrated effort called The Time of the Oath is, musically, a stunningly forgettable retread of their previous Power Metal releases with little of the elements that made that album great.
Once “We Burn” begins, it is clear that this album will not be to the same level as their previous work. The fast tempo and decent vocals are marred by poor songwriting and a lack of any hooks that would make the song worth listening to; something which appears often throughout the total 61 minutes. Unfortunately, 8 more similarly sounding songs will also join it by being effortless and boring compositions; with many standing alongside the band’s worst songs. The three worst tracks of the album, if not the worst songs Helloween has made, are “Anything My Mama Don’t Like,” for its annoying and ridiculously happy (even for Power Metal) chorus, along with the two epics “Mission Motherland” and “The Time of the Oath” for plodding on for 9 and 7 minutes respectively. The overall 61 minute run-time makes the album extremely difficult to listen to in one sitting; and the massive amount of boring tracks (as previously stated) makes it only worse. The production does nothing to gloss over these elements; as the rougher sound only makes the 12 tracks harder to distinguish from one another. The concept is pointless; being unknown to the listener unless it was explicitly described to them by another source. After all, an album with songs titled “Steel Tormentor,” “Before the War,” and “Anything My Mama Don’t Like” would sound closer to being about Painkiller-like characters, wars that Sabaton already write about, or teenage rebellion that many bands have already covered.
Despite the massive amount of flaws, there are a few positive elements in this album. “Power” has a fantastic chorus that shows Andi Deris’s great vocals; which also shine through on both the beautiful “Forever and One” and the aggressive “Before the War;” easily the three best moments on The Time of the Oath. The riffing and soloing is as good as it gets on the album for those songs, and the rhythm instrumentalists craft effective backgrounds for the trio of works. Unfortunately, after these songs, the album descends back into mediocrity for all members; with no more standouts, or even anything marginally worth listening to, for the rest of the album.
As Deris “slowly [says] goodbye” on the self-titled song on the album; it is clear that it is not a worthwhile listen. Despite a few standouts, the album’s self-plagiarism and boring songwriting, unnecessary concept, and ridiculously long run-time makes the album an extremely boring listen. You are better off with almost every other of the band’s Power Metal releases; with only Pink Bubbles Go Ape, Rabbit Don’t Come Easy, and Chameleon coming close to the quality of this album.
What you should listen to:
Forever and One (Neverland)
Before the War
What you should not listen to: