Released by: Steamhammer/SPV
Release date: Europe – 15 January 2016, US – 22 January 2016
Genre: Melodic Hard Rock
Axel Rudi Pell – Guitar
Johnny Gioeli – Vocals
Ferdy Doernberg – Keyboards
Volker Krawczak – Bass
Bobby Rondinelli – Drums
01. Lenta Fortuna
03. Sons In The Night
04. Game Of Sins
05. Falling Star
06. Lost In Love
07. The King Of Fools
08. Till The World Says Goodbye
09. Breaking The Rules
10. Forever Free
11. All Along The Watchtower (bonus track)
Oh how time flies. It feels like yesterday when Axel Rudi Pell’s last album “Into The Storm” was released. That was two years ago and everybody who knows the German Axeman knows he is very consistent. The follow-up album “Game Of Sins” will hit the stores on January 15th (Europe) and January 22nd (US). “Into The Storm” was a huge chart success for Pell and I felt that Axel’s songwriting skills could grew from album to album. Let’s see if “Game Of Sins” is another step forward.
With Axel Rudi Pell it is always like some kind of double-edged sword, which you would expect from him. Which he effortlessly uses to split the Metal community into two. The one side loves this guy for his consistent sound and songwriting; the other side complains that every record sounds the same. However, the truth lies somewhere between.
Axel Rudi Pell always delivers upon his fans expectations; so die-hard fans will know what this offering will bring. You get the epic atmosphere on the title track “Game Of Sins”, the melancholic mood in “Forever Free”, a mixture of heavy rockers (“Fire”, “The King Of Fools”) and power ballads (“Lost In Love”), very extensive and bluesy guitar solos. As well as top-notch vocals by Johnny Gioeli. If you love all that stuff you’ll be fine with “Game Of Sins”.
But I understand the other side of the community’s view a bit more, because “Game Of Sins” feels a bit too familiar. There are many songs that seem to consist of various set pieces from previous Pell songs (best examples: “Falling Star”, “Till The Wolrd Says Goodbye”, “Breaking The Rules”). To me that feels like a step back in songwriting quality. Especially the choruses are too generic and couldn’t grab me as they did on the previous three records. I missed some really cool standout tracks like “Burning Chains”, “Forever Angel” or “World Of Confusion”. Not many melodies stuck in my head and even after various spins I can say that the tracks sound very similar to each other.
This album and the new Last Autumn’s Dream album have the same problem. However there is one difference: Axel Rudi Pell still tries to improve things from album to album and that is evident on this production. “Game Of Sins” sounds huge! It is better production quality than compared to the previous records and this is evident through the drums that have been given more space to shine. The drumming of Bobby Rondinelli never sounded that powerful and also the rest of the band ensures a punchy in-your-face sound. With that said, even some weaker tracks are still fun to listen to.
On the other hand, Johnny Gioeli’s vocals stand out here. He is still one of the best shouters out there and his voice never gets old. Combined with Pell’s skills on the guitar, this album still delivers solid fare for fans of epic Heavy Rock. And so everything stays the same: Axel won’t gain a bigger audience with “Game Of Sins”, but he also won’t disappoint his longtime fans. Personally I can say that this isn’t one of his strongest efforts, but still a solid one you can pick up and rock to.
Written by: Thomas Swarzkopf
Ratings: Thomas 7/10