AXEL RUDI PELL – Knights Call (2018)
AXEL RUDI PELL will release its 17th album, “Knights Call“, on March 23 via SPV / Steamhammer. The German-American band featuring singer Johnny Gioeli (Hardline) and drummer Bobby Rondinelli (Rainbow), like clockwork, continues the group’s consistent run of releasing an album of self penned songs every two years; a sequence that began two decades ago.
The collection doesn’t mess with the tried and trusted formula of earlier work. That will be a relief for his Continental fans who buy the music in truck loads and flock to gigs.
As you may expect from a band that is mainly the creative outlet for their eponymous six string wizard, the production is geared towards bolstering the riffs, with the thick, beefy drum sound and the low, rumbling bass providing a sufficient framework for Rudi Pell to craft his songs, while Ferdy Doernberg’s keys help to add texture.
Meanwhile, the splendid Johnny Gioeli continues to do the sort of fantastic job that has made him an indispensable part of the group. At 50 years old, his vocal power shows little signs of diminishing.
Opener ‘The Medieval Overture (Intro)’ sets a portentous tone before two of the album’s stronger tracks kick in. ‘The Wild and the Young’ and ‘Wildest Dreams’ both feed off driving riffs and melodic choruses. The latter is underpinned by some well-placed Hammond flourishes. Later on, ‘Follow The Sun’ is a fine romp.
‘Long Live Rock’ is the most commercial track on the CD, a melodic hard rocker crowned by brilliant guitar solo.
‘Truth and Lies’ is an enjoyable mid-paced showcase of Pell’s dextrous and inventive guitar playing. The track also features some jaunty keyboard breaks from Doernberg and compelling bass runs.
‘The Crusaders Of Doom’ is where this album really accelerates. The song is 8 minutes of everything you would expect from Axel Rudi Pell and the fans will be absolutely loving it.
Johnny Gioeli handles the lead vocals throughout with a gravelly tone and plenty of power, especially on ‘Beyond The Light’. I’m trying hard to avoid the obvious comparisons, but there is something of Klaus Meine about the vocal arrangements.
Closer ‘Tower of Babylon’ is a midtempo epic, there’s a middle Eastern flair to some of the melodies, leading to quite a captivating journey that ends the album on a high.
“Knights Call” is another really strong entry into the ever expanding canon of Axel Rudi Pell. To be releasing album number 17 shows you know exactly what you are doing and you know who your fan base is.
The band is playing brilliantly on this album, really oiled after the same line-up for many years, and I look forward to seeing some of these songs introduced to the live shows.
01. The Medieval Overture
02. The Wild and the Young
03. Wildest Dreams
04. Long Live Rock
05. The Crusaders of Doom
06. Truth and Lies
07. Beyond the Light
08. Slaves on the Run
09. Follow the Sun
10. Tower of Babylon
Johnny Gioeli – Vocals
Axel Rudi Pell – Guitars
Ferdy Doernberg – Keyboards
Volker Krawczak – Bass
Bobby Rondinelli – Drums