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Axel Rudi Pell – Tales of the Crown

Label: SPV USA
Format: CD
Released: 2008
Reviewed By: Kevin Alba

Axel Rudi Pell can do absolutely no wrong in my book. The king of power ballads and ripping guitars is back for another round and may very well be the most consistent man in all of hard rock and heavy metal music. Every time you blink your eye it seems that something from Axel is coming out. Having had his band in existence since 1988, “Tales of the Crown” is Axel’s 13th studio album since then. In addition to this, three volumes of compilations have been released titled “The Ballads” as well as another compilation “The Wizard’s Chosen Few”, two live albums, two DVD’s, and four singles/EPs. Needless to say there is no shortage of Axel Rudi Pell material and the best part is there is nothing bad or weak at all. Most artists have a period or an album or two that may be a detour from their regular musical format but you do not get that when it comes to Axel.
Axel has had many different band members over the course of his career including some notable ones like Jeff Scott Soto (Talisman, Yngwie Malmsteen, Journey), Jorg Michael (Grave Digger, Running Wild, Stratovarius, Saxon), and Rob Rock (Impellitteri). I feel it is Axel’s current lineup that is perhaps his strongest as they have been making the magic happen since 1998. Joining the amazing guitarist is vocalist Johnny Gioelli, bassist Volker Krawczak who has been with Axel since their days in Steeler, former Rage drummer Mike Terrana, and keyboard player Ferdy Doernberg.

As I listen to “Tales of the Crown” I think of how much I love the style of music that Axel puts out. Axel takes the common power metal theme of dungeons, dragons, wizardry, and all that good stuff, mixes it up with topics of love and relationships and tops it off with a Los Angeles 80’s metal meets power metal sound. The album opens with “Higher”, a mid paced rocker featuring some killer guitar work which is to be expected. This is the type of song that during your first listen, having never heard the song before, will have you singing the chorus alongside with powerhouse vocalist Johnny Gioeli. “Touching My Soul”, an excellent ballad, could have fit in nicely somewhere on one of Great Whites first few albums.

“Emotional Echoes” is the only instrumental on the album which is refreshing because when it comes to another guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen, you can be facing three or four per album which take up valuable song space. This instrumental is very good and when I listen to it imagine myself away with my girl swinging back and forth on a hammock somewhere tropical with the sun starting to set, drink in my hand and an exciting night about to begin. There’s nothing better than music that has the power to take you somewhere else. “Buried Alive” is a much heavier number that gets the head banging and the fist raised. The guitar solo here will just make you say “wow”.

All in all this is an excellent platter of Axel Rudi Pell’s brand of hard rock/heavy metal. There is nothing ground breaking here but Axel doesn’t need to release earth shattering material to keep people interested as everything done by him and the band is impressive. “Tales from the Crown” has added more muscle to my CD collection and will be in regular rotation with the rest of my Axel Rudi Pell collection for years to come. My favorite album is still 1998’s “Oceans of Time” which I highly recommend to anyone who considers themselves a fan of hard rock or metal. If you do not have that one then do yourself a favor and pick it up.
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