Axel Rudi Pell

2020

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Guitar virtuoso Axel Rudi Pell started out releasing material on the SPV record label way back in 1989, just as he does again this week with his new offering ‘Sign Of The Times’, released this Friday 8thMay. Americans Johnny Gioeli (vocals), Bobby Rondinelli (drums) join together, with Axel’s fellow Germans Volker Krawczak (bass) and keyboard man Ferdy Doernberg, on what is Pell’s 18thalbum, with Tom Geiger promoted from engineer to producer.

After a first few spins, there’s no doubting the 70’s Classic Rock influences of Deep Purple/Rainbow. Indeed, this record could easily be what Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, featuring Ronnie James Dio, would be releasing now, if they were still together today. Pell has also removed the dated mystic wizards and kings from earlier releases, going for a more up-to-date lyrical choice of content.

Kicking off the ten-track CD is ‘The Black Serenade’, a short intro that sees Axel flexing his guitar muscle in preparation for the hard-hitting power shot of ‘Gunfire’. ’Bad Reputation’ drops a gear in a more mainstream radio friendly feel, through to the title track - a Dio inspired seven minute epic. Fittingly complemented by the following track, ’The End Of The Line’, next up is the album’s ballad, ‘As Blind As A Fool Can Be’ - vocally delivered by Gioeli in true AOR Rock ballad style - mobile flashlights raised people!

Track seven, ’Wings Of A Storm’, is the track of the album for me, one that could quite easily be slotted on to a certain ‘Stormbringer’ album, whilst on the other hand, the following ’Waiting For Your Call’, veers nearer to a lighter edge.

There’s a shock change of style within the opening minute of track nine, ‘Living In A Dream’. Dare I mention the ‘R’ word? Yes, rockers, not ‘R’ for ‘Rock’, but ‘R’ for Bob Marley’s ‘Reggae’! The ‘Police’ manipulated the genre to their advantage as ARP does here - if only for a minute! Finally, the riff laden ‘Into The Fire’ delivers us back into the temple of the king as a perfect closure. Just judge for yourself upon its release!

Geoff C.