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Axel Rudi Pell
The Masquerade Ball
Released: 2000, SPV
Axel Rudi Pell has intrigued me since I discovered him (about 6 months ago). For awhile before that I had been hearing his name but I never had the opportunity to hear a CD of his. At different times and by various individuals he had been described as the next Yngwie Malmsteen, a powermetal guitarist and a glam rocker. I have no idea where the glam rock idea came from as there isn’t a touch of glam to be seen. The Yngwie comparison is not fair as Pell is not the shredder that Yngwie is and while a great guitar player he is not quite up there with the guitar god yet. As for powermetal, that is far from the truth. I have no idea where that one came from but I would never put the powermetal tag on Pell ( a few songs maybe). I would say that Axel Rudi Pell is Metal. At times melodic and at other times powerful but Metal. I have learned that an Axel Rudi Pell CD runs the gamut from all out rockers to soulful ballads. The Masquerade Ball is no exception. To create this album Pell has assembled a great collection of musicians. Along with himself on guitar he has Johnny Gioeli (ex - Hardline) on vocals, Volker Krawzcak - bass guitar, Ferdy Doernberg - keyboards and Mike Terrana (ex - Yngwie Malmsteen) on the drums. This is the second album for Gioeli , who seems more comfortable than on 1998s Oceans of Time and the first CD for Terrana. This is Axel Rudi Pell’s eleventh solo release.
From experience I kinda knew what to expect on this CD. What Pell delivers are 10 songs that clock in at 68 minutes and at various times crush the listener with double bass drums, rock out with mid paced head bangers and slow things down with ballads and slower tempo tracks. "The Arrival" opens the Cd with one of the more boring intros that I have heard in awhile. This is made up for on "Earls of Black". This is as close as Pell comes to powermetal as the track contains pounding double bass, compliments of Mr. Terrana, and a very cool interlude section in the middle with some very melodic guitar work from Pell. "Voodoo Nights" is a mid tempo track that highlights some great vocal work from Gioeli who fits Pells musical style to a T. Pell slows things down with first "Night and Rain" and then the title track. "The Masquerade Ball" is 10 minutes of demons, wizards, winged assassins and evil.An epic track and one of my favourite songs on the disc. This track features some great keyboard work by Ferdy Doernberg. "Tear Down the Walls" speeds things up again and Pell has a chance to display some of his guitar talents. "Hot Wheels" is a real cruising tune as Axel wrote it for the local biker gang. Very cool tune. The disc closes out with the track "July Morning" This is a Uriah Heep cover but the band manage to make it their own.
Overall this is a great CD. It could have done with one less ballad as four out of ten songs are ballads or slower tracks. Other than that there is not too much to complain about. Johnny Gioeli proves that he is one of the better voices in metal and Mike Terrana does an excellent job in his first job on the drum stool. Axel Rudi Pell delivers another great CD by delivering what he is best known for: Melodic Metal.
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