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Axel Rudi Pell – The Ballads IV

Label: SPV/Steamhammer
Format: CD download
Released: 2011
Reviewed By: Rich Catino
Rating: 8/ 10

Unfortunately to this day the talents of German guitarist Axel Rudi Pell are still only appreciated (in America) by the versed metal listener who discovers the sounds from overseas and not just what is popularized by the media. It’s not that often hard rock and heavy metal bands release an album of only ballads but I think its pretty cool given after so many years you could accumulate several. Aside from the obvious big names like Poison, Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Whitesnake, Kiss, etc, also W.A.S.P., Savatage, to Blind Guardian, Helloween and Stratovarius have enough great tear jerkers to release a volume or two.


On to Axel, this fourth ballad collection takes music from his recent six years; 06’s "Mystica", "Tales Of The Crown" from 2008, and last year’s "The Crest". One of three new recordings, ‘Where The Wild Waters Flow’, is grade A power ballad material complete with keyboards, Axel’s leads, accenting orchestrations, and long time (since 1998’s “Oceans Of Time”) singer Johnny Gioeli’s passionate vocal lines. A piano treatment of the Dio classic ‘Holy Diver’ comes across very well in this arrangement and a welcomed change to the original I’ve heard a billion times (no offense of course). The interpretation of ‘Hallelujah’ (Leonard Cohen cover which has received a new lease on life thanks to Bon Jovi), is also very well done and the children´s choir fits perfectly complimenting Johnny´s soulful delivery. And speaking of covers, if you missed Axel’s album "Diamonds Unlocked", here included is a cool acoustic version of Kiss’ ‘Love Gun’, a strong piano based version of the gothic band The Mission’s ‘Like A Child Again’, and a not so interesting attempt at Phil Collen’s classic ‘In The Air Tonight’.

‘Northern Lights’ from “Tales From The Crown” is memorable and one of my favs, the piano (which has a very Savatage ring to it) and Axel’s quiet notes make instrumental ‘Noblesse Oblige’ sad with ‘Glory Nights’ (from "The Crest") also carrying a familiar somberness. From "Mystica", ‘No Chance To Live’ is pretty decent, but the bluesy ‘Haunted Castle Serenade’ and ‘The Curse Of The Damned’ are bland and just not up to the level of what’s on "Tales of The Crown" or "The Crest".

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