Axel Rudi Pell - Diamonds Unlocked

Produced by Axel Rudi Pell

Just over a year since his last album, Mystica, German guitar hero Axel Rudi Pell satisfies his fan's demand for more music with this collection of covers, some of which you wouldn't have necessarily picked for a metal covers album, but then, that's the making of a good cover.

In fact, Axel hasn't chosen a single metal song to cover. The selection of rock and pop found on Diamonds Unlocked are merely songs Axel has always loved, for different reasons. Some are slightly more obvious than others. KISS' Love Gun and Who's Won't Get Fooled Again are pretty stock choices for covers, but it's not often a metal artist chooses songs by Michael Bolton, Phil Collins and U2. And he even has surprises in store for the rock selections.

Following the short-and-sweet intro The Diamond Overture, the only music here penned by Pell, an muscular version of Riot's Warrior kicks things off in a strong, but not particularly experimental way, then a properly rocked-up version of U2's Beautiful Day makes the song sound like it really should have sounded in the first place, although Johnny Gioeli's vocals are perhaps not quite on the mark.

A thunderous version of Chris Rea's Stone is one of the highlights of the album. Again, the song sounds so right as a powerful metal song and this time Gioeli's singing is absolutely on the nail. When you think he's going to take a moment to turn in something predictable Axel successfully turns Love Gun into a whiskey-soaked acoustic song and throws a massive curve-ball. Another highlight.

Free songs always work well as metal covers because of their undeniable groove, and Heartbreaker is no different. Pell's take on the riff and his amazing solos make it a third highlight. Between Heartbreaker and Love Gun came a version of Michael Bolton's Fools Game which, like Collins' In The Air Tonight (which Ray Wilson has always sung best), Gioeli's voice can't quite manage. The heavy guitars late on don't quite fit in the latter, but his guitar take on the main melody is magnificent.

A suitably lively version of Montrose's Rock The Nation and a wonderful piano version of The Mission's Like A Child Again, with superb guitar solo, are up next before the album closes with a heavied-up version of Won't Get Fooled Again, ending the disc on high spirits.

Covers albums are a hit and miss affair. This year has already seen Vanilla Fudge's great set of reworked Led Zeppelin classics, and Tesla's dismal Reel To Real, two name just two. Thankfully, Pell has come up with an unexpected collection of songs, mostly reworked in new and interesting ways, and all not your usual cover version choices. This, above anything else, makes it a worthy listen, and his always-excellent guitar playing only adds to that.

“ unexpected ”

Tracklist: The Diamond Overture / Warrior / Beautiful Day / Stone / Love Gun / Fools Game / Heartbreaker / Rock The Nation / In The Air Tonight / Like A Child Again / Won't Get Fooled Again

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2007, Albums, Hard/Heavy Rock,

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