Although he has been around forever, German guitar hero Axel Rudi Pell’s previous work is generally unfamiliar to me. Years ago I heard a couple of his discs - 2000’s ‘The Masquerade Ball’ and one of his ‘Ballads’ compilations. I didn’t care for either of them so I didn’t pursue any of his subsequent releases. The ‘Ballads’ CD had a couple cool songs on it but wasn’t heavy enough for what I was into at the time. And my recollection of ‘The Masquerade Ball’ was that it was full of long, keyboard-heavy epic type tunes similar to late 90’s Kamelot or Stratovarius – not my thing either. Now in 2008 I’ve come across his latest ‘Tales Of the Crown.’ Naturally I was expecting something along those lines. Man…was I ever dead wrong.
‘Tales Of The Crown’ is a throwback to 80’s style metal and particularly reminiscent of the Max Norman produced albums of those days by such greats as Armored Saint and Loudness. Songs are mid-paced and structured around crisp and heavy hooks that are not overly flashy. While there is some great fretwork on this disc, Pell does an excellent job of not letting his talent get in the way of solid songwriting, which tends to be a problem for some guitar gods. Johnny Gioeli’s vocals fit this style of metal perfectly. He has the range to hit the higher notes when necessary, but also has just the right amount of gruffness in voice to give these tracks the extra muscle it takes to pull them off.
‘Emotional Echoes’ is an awesome Satriani-ish instrumental and a personal favorite of mine. ‘Higher,’ ‘Crossfire,’ and ‘Buried Alive’ otherwise highlight this disc and would have really made Axel Rudi Pell a superstar on these shores had they been released twenty-some years ago. Everything else ranges from strong to kickass and there aren’t any weaklings to be found. Even ballads ‘Touching My Soul,’ and ‘Northern Lights,’ fit in nicely here, create a pleasant atmosphere, and provide a nice change in tempo.
Although it has somewhat of a dated sound, ‘Tales Of The Crown’ is a great album and should be well received by any fans of 80’s style classic metal. I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this CD. It made me wonder how much of his previous stuff I should have already checked out and it had me heading over to ebay to find out.
- Tim Carroll
Although it has somewhat of a dated sound, ‘Tales Of The Crown’ is a great album and should be well received by any fans of 80’s style classic metal. I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this CD.
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