Axel Rudi Pell is the former German Steeler guitarist who has established a prolific career issuing albums under his own banner since the demise of his former band in the tail end of the ‘80s. Born in 1960 Bochum’s Pell established his band in 1989, recorded a demo featuring former Steeler singer Karl Holthaus and immediately issued an album called Wild Obsession through the Steamhammer label. This debut featured singer Charlie Huhn of Victory and drummer Jorg Michael who would go on to join 46% of all European metal bands. Although former Steeler bassist Volker Krawczak would also join the fold later the line-up has been fluid and very much interchangeable.
The albums often have aristocratic or regal reference. Members have included singer Jeff Scott Soto, singer Rob Rock, keyboardist Christian Wolff and bassist Thomas Smuszynski. DVDs include 2002’s Knight Treasures (Live And More) and 2008’s Live Over Europe. Several compilations have also been issued including a covers album called Diamonds Unlocked. Axel Rudi Pell's The Crest, released by SPV, entered the German Media Control chart at position Number 22 in May of 2010. Axel Rudi Pell and co-producer Charlie Bauerfeind completed the recording of the next studio album, titled Circle Of The Oath, which would be released in March by SPV. Axel Rudi Pell would issue Live On Fire in March, 2013. A studio album was due that autumn. Axel Rudi Pell recruited Bobby Rondinelli formerly of Black Sabbath, Rainbow, etc. as its drummer. Axel Rudi Pell would release his next album, Game Of Sins, on January 15th, 2016 through SPV/Steamhammer. The band toured with openers Mob Rules. Axel Rudi Pell released his next album, called Knights Call, through SPV/Steamhammer in March. Axel Rudi Pell’s XXX Anniversary Live was a 30th album release was issued by SPV on June 7th. The album was recorded at various stops in Europe. Diamond unlocked II was another covers’ CD. It was issued in 2021.
AXEL RUDI PELL - TALES OF THE CROWN - SPV
Axel Rudi Pell is back with another album titled for a king. And the music is fit for a metal king too. It is in many ways sad that Axel Rudi Pell is and is known as a solo band and artist. The band deserves a bigger profile especially on this side of the pond. Blame the label, blame the Germanic reputation or even the lack of enthusiasm for real metal, but whatever it is tip your hat to the guitarist and his many co-musicians for being so full of life, so energetic, so hard and so true after seventeen, yes seventeen, straight metal full-length albums. It is time the guitarist received some attention.
From the start which is the song Higher to Northern Lights, which closes the album triumphantly true hard and heavy metal is the name of the game and the album delivers. Pell’s guitar playing is smooth, melodic or crunchy as needed and exciting. He never overrides the music or the song, but is a constant force. Mike Terrana puts in a good effort and surpasses some of his lacklustre work of the past. Keyboardist Fedry Doernberg is exiled to the background at best. The real surprise of the album is the singer. His name is Johnny Gioeli and he screams and soars without becoming shrilly or overbearing. The man has a set of pipes ready and on the go and is a personal find for me. His voice reminds one of Journey/Vinnie Vincent man Robert Fleischman, albeit with a more controlled delivery. The obligatory ballads are here and they remind one of old Accept slow songs. A silly moment is found on Riding On An Arrow with a sample of a child makes an appearance. Axel Rudi Pell is in top form and not remotely ready to retire. Axel and crew need some long hair and a more metal image, but the music doesn’t come up short. - Sheila Wes Det
AXEL RUDI PELL - BEST OF - ANNIVERSARY EDITION - SPV
Apparently, the 'anniversary' in the title refers to the 10th anniversary of the band’s current line-up, therefore no early material among the 12 songs is presented here. Edge Of The World from 2002’s Shadow Zone is up first and is a good representation of competently played German hard rock or heavy metal, although the drumming is very formulaic. Carousel is a catchier take on the standard and at eight minutes provides amply. This song would have fit well on Pretty Maids’ Red Hot And Heavy. Strong As A Rock is a power ballad of sorts. Beautiful Day is a U2 cover but it is not too recognizable. Mystica, a title track, is another trademark song with above average singing and good musicianship varying between ballad like sections and heavier ones. Forever Angel is an acoustic piece from the The Ballads III. The Masquerade Ball, another title track, is a 10-minute plus power ballad like song highlighted by the guitar playing of Pell. Rock The Nation is fitting for a '80s hit. Oceans Of Time is more of a ballad than anything else. Tear Down The Walls, from the The Masquerade Ball, along with the song coming after it keeps its pace perhaps more often than any other song on this Best Of. Ain’t Gonna Win is from Tales Of The Crown and is consistent and the heaviest of the 12 songs. The album closes with a cover of Phil Collin’s In The Air Tonight. Fans would know all the songs well enough and already appreciate the abilities of Pell and co. and might therefore want to add this release to their collection but otherwise this is only for the curious. - Anna Tergel