Axel Rudi Pell - Tales of The Crown

Produced by Axel Rudi Pell & Charlie Bauerfeind

Still maintaining his remarkably high work rate, Axel Rudi Pell and his band of some of the best musicians in metal at the moment, are issuing another brand new album following 2007's covers disc Diamonds Unlocked, live DVD set Live Over Europe and 2006's Mystica.

Said band still features keyboard wizard Ferdy Doernberg, most recently seen touring with Therion, incresingly impressive vocalist Johnny Gioeli and Mike Terrana, widely recognised as one of the best drummers in the World. Pell says of the new album "Our fans will get just the kind of songs they have come to know and expect from me and my band, plus a few little innovations". Which sounds promising.

So they open with Higher and when the chorus kicks in there's something all too familiar about it, possibly because the main riff is so reminiscent of Dio. Although there is no denying the hooks on this album - Crossfire, Angel Eyes, Higher, all have irristiable choruses that will have everyone singing along come the second playback of the disc - it almost doesn't feel like listening to anything new at all.

Pell also says "But don't worry, these modern approaches are only gradual and don't affect the typical flair of my songs", of the more contemporary approach to rhythm he has reportedly taken on this album. It should be entirely unnecessary to be this afraid, after some eleven previous original studio albums, of making changes and trying new things. Perhaps he isn't. Perhaps he is just afraid of the 'Metallica effect', upsetting his fans by changing things too drastically from one album to the next, but really there is a lot more scope to experiment with power metal than he is affording himself the opportunity to try.

Aside from the magnificent and aptly titled instrumental Emotional Echoes, which features the kind of emotive lead rock guitar instrumental work many wish Uli Jon Roth would produce, the rest of the album offers very little interest as well. The two ballads, Touching My Soul - heavied up a little with a meaty power-chord riff - and Northern Lights, are power metal ballads by numbers, and the last three rockers retread the same ground as the first half of the disc

Riding On An Arrow, disappointingly, is basically the same song as Higher and Buried Alive barely moves away from that mold either. Title track Tales of The Crown is more interesting, but again it's just another Axel Rudi Pell song.

Although still a good album, with no technically bad songs, it does feel a little like playing it safe, taking no chances, and just producing another ARP album that everyone would expect. The best thing to come from this, however, is that hopefully there will actually be a tour this time, after the band were forced to cancel their European tour for the Mystica album in 2007, and cancelled last year's big Wacken Open-Air appearance. A tour is rumoured for January/February 2009.

“ all too familiar ”

Tracklist: Higher / Ain't Gonna Win / Angel Eyes / Crossfire / Touching My Soul / Emotional Echoes / Riding On An Arrow / Tales of The Crown / Buried Alive / Northern Lights

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2008, Albums, Power Metal,

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