Released by: SPV/Steamhammer
Release Date: January 21st, 2013
Genre: Melodic Metal
Johnny Gioeli – Lead and Backing Vocals
AXEL RUDI PELL – Lead, Rhythm and Acoustic Guitars
Ferdy Doernberg – Keyboards
Volker Krawczak – Bass
Bobby Rondinelli – Drums
01. The Inquisitorial Procedure (intro)
02. Tower Of Lies
03. Long Way To Go
04. Burning Chains
05. When Truth Hurts
06. Changing Times
07. Touching Heaven
08. High Above
09. Hey Hey My My (Neil Young Cover)
10. Into The Storm
Every second year the German Axeman Axel Rudi Pell brings a new record to the Hard Rock community and with this persistence he has gained a large fan base since the late 80’s. His latest work “Circle Of The Oath” brought him his highest chart positions until now. The forthcoming album is called “Into The Storm”. That sounds quiet epic – let me tell you what it has to offer.
If you listen to an ARP record names like Rainbow, Deep Purple, DIO and Black Sabbath come to your mind – just heavier. These are Axel’s big idols and especially his love for Ritchie Blackmore was and still is omnipresent on each new record. Nevertheless Pell has a very unique style of guitar play and I think this is very important for a guitarist, who can only express himself by his songwriting and sleight of hand. Each time Pell creates a great atmosphere and a special mood. His play is very melodic with many bluesy elements, which brings very often some kind of melancholia with it. To make it short: if you listen to one of his records you know that it’s him and no other guitar player. He is a very consistent man.
But this is not the only thing, which defines an Axel Rudi Pell record – the second big advantage is Johnny Gioelli on vocals. You can always count on this man and once again he delivers an outstanding performance. There is no doubt that he is one of the best shouters we have in Rock & Metal. If you take a look at the other bandmates someone new grabs my attention: Bobby Rondinelli (ex-Black Sabbath, ex-Rainbow, ex-Doro) on drums. For sure all ARP albums had a cool drum sound, but Bobby kicks so much ass, it’s a pleasure to hear him on “Into The Storm”.
Speaking about songwriting I must confess that I never was so satisfied with it. I’ve listened to Axel Rudi Pell since 2005 now and there were always songs on each record which blew my mind (“Rock The Nation”, “Forever Angel”, “Riding On An Arrow”, …), but there were also enough songs I didn’t like. Mostly when Axel tried to be more epic. Those very long tracks were so monotonous at times. On “Circle Of The Oath” I found much more highlights, so that was a step in the right direction and luckily I can say that Axel improved his songwriting skills again on “Into The Storm”. You have still the same mixture of pounding Heavy Rockers, Power Ballads, Cover songs and bright epic long-tracks. Axel has a very good sense for complex arrangements with epic scale and catchy melodies on this one. This time I didn’t want to skip one single song. I love the very melodic “Long Way To Go”, the fast “Burning Chains”, the catchy “High Above” and the wonderful “Touching Heaven”. This track starts very slow. Axel could have made a separate song with the first minute, which is some kind of introduction until the song goes over to a straight Hard Rocker. The melody is so beautiful, this would have been a great ballad, but ok … nevertheless”Touching Heaven”is one of the best songs on this album. The typical power ballad “When Truth Hurts” and the Neil Young cover “Hey Hey My My” are also very enjoyable and even the epic 10 minute track “Into The Storm” could convince me this time. Especially the bridge to the chorus is great here.
After all these very good things I’ve to admit one major problem this album (and any other before) has: it sounds too similar to its previous records. With each new long player Axel has to deal with this critic. Each time everything sounds way the same, although the songs are on a high level. Often you could think that all songs from the last ten years were recorded at the same time. For sure, this is not the case, but it feels like that. A good example how to do it right are the Swiss Hard Rockers Gotthard. One reason why I love this band so much is that each record sounds different but the essence of the band is still present. They create on each album a slightly different sound and mood and I’d love to hear that on an Axel Rudi Pell album. Ok, Axel tries to keep everything a bit varied with some piano parts, change of pace and so on, but that isn’t enough to keep the thing fresh, because the fundamental sound is exactly the same. Yeah and that’s the reason why I have to pull off one point here.
The bottom line is that every ARP fan gets with “Into The Storm” exactly what you would expect from this man: a very enjoyable Heavy Rock album, which is stuck somewhere in the 70’s with a bit more heaviness and punchy production. A great voice, unique guitar play and improved songwriting round up the whole package. To me it’s one of the best records he has ever done and if you don’t listen so often to ARP you won’t recognize the similarities to previous records so much … yes, and old die-hard fans will love Axel for his continuity. That means: you can’t go wrong with “Into The Storm”. Buy it!
Written by Thomas