The eighth full-length studio album by the legendary German Hard Rock/Heavy/Power Metal band.
Axel Rudi Pell is back with his new opus. Right after an amazing album, "Oceans Of Time", featuring newly recruited vocalist Johnny Gioeli, Axel Rudi Pell saw a further change in their line-up and a further evolution of their sound. The album is very melodic as always, same magical potion, use easy but extremely catchy melodies, let the maestro play and temper with them adding nice solos, serve hot and you have a very good album.
Production is impeccable like always with Axel Rudi Pell. The expected quality of songwriting on any Axel Rudi Pell album is reasonably high. This album is the second one with Johnny Gioeli on vocals and this guy is a hell a of a singer! Gioeli among all musicians deserves special praise, selling even the most cliched lyrics with a conviction and attitude that will win anyone over. He proves that he is one of the better voices in Metal! Mike Terrana is a fantastic drummer, and he does an excellent job in his first job on the drum stool.
The overall structure of this album is, in many ways similar to that of "Magic", the last album featuring Soto on vocals. We have a very atmospheric intro, although the guitar part on "The Arrival" hints that we are in for a very heavy follow up. The musical foreshadowing is fulfilled when "Earls of Black" nails your ears with a vengeance. "Voodoo Nights" is a mid-tempo track that is a bit short and simple in overall structure. It has a very memorable chorus. "Night and Rain" is a somber Blues ballad of sorts with some rather nostalgic lead playing, reminding alot of Tony Iommi. The title track has a similar structure to the title track of "Magic", but it is not quite as repetitive and actually has a stronger vocal delivery. As often is the case, the title track is the strongest overall song on here, and functions as a quasi-ballad/down tempo rocker. "Tears Down the Walls" and "Hot Wheels" are both classic straight-forward Axel Rudi Pell rockers. The former has a very strong chorus, the latter has some neat motorcycle sounds at the beginning, both have melodic guitar lines and excellent solos. "The Line" and "Temple of the Holy" are both ballads with more expressive lead work. The latter reminds a great deal of "Eyes of the Lost", from the "Magic" album. The former sounds a bit more like later ballad work on "Shadow Zone". The closing track on here is "July Morning" and it's a real standout track on this album because it's extremely different from anything else you've heard from this band. It has a good deal of Rock organ work courtesy of Ferdy Doernberg, but the real point of interest is the style of the song. The best way it can be described is as a sort of Hard Rocker hommage to Deep Purple or Rainbow. It actually has a recurring melody that reminds a tiny bit of a Handel composition from the later Baroque era.
In conclusion, this is a great album and definite must have for fans of Axel Rudi Pell and others in the traditional Metal scene, who love music inspired by Rainbow, Deep Purple, Malmsteen and Dio. Power Metal fans will like the faster tracks on here and the melodic sound that the band exhibits. Although it's not quite the riveting masterpiece that it's predecessor was, it ranks as probably one of the better releases by this band. Axel Rudi Pell delivers another great album by delivering what he is best known for: Melodic Metal!!
Steamhammer/SPV, 2000 (SPV 085-21692 CD). Made in Germany. First press.
1. The Arrival (Intro) 1:30
2. Earls Of Black 6:04
3. Voodoo Nights 5:32
4. Night And Rain 8:06
5. The Masquerade Ball 10:40
6. Tear Down The Walls 5:40
7. The Line 7:39
8. Hot Wheels 4:54
9. The Temple Of The Holy 7:42
10. July Morning 9:58
Total playing time: 67:45 min.