Released: 2006, SPV/Steamhammer
Reviewer: Erin Fox
Having been one of Germany’s leading guitarists for a good many years, any opportunity to hear Axel Rudi Pell should be of certain value to metalheads. But as impressive his fleet-fingered guitar solos can be, the tried-and-true formulas of this highly proficient axe-slinger’s group are wearing a bit thin. There’s every bit of Yngwie/Dio/Rainbow-type worship one could expect on MYSTICA. It’s so predictable it’s somewhat frustrating. So when combining formulaic approaches to songwriting with cliché lyrics and the type of delivery that is best described as rather lukewarm, this effort simply falls flat. Without a doubt, there are some great song structures on this record, but they’re not delivered with the proper amount of passion required for songs like “Valley Of Sin” and “Fly To The Moon “to be overtly exciting.
If it were 1984, there’s no doubt that you’d have a substantial amount of fans eager to crank up the mid-paced “Living A Lie” or the stadium-tailored anthem “Rock The Nation.” Alas, these sorts of sounds have largely fallen out of favor with younger metalheads and MYSTICA lacks the fire to bring this type of majestic, traditional heavy metal before a new audience. Having said that, if Axel Rudi Pell does manage to get this music in front of the 40 year old fans that got this when it was still a popular sound, the band is likely to sell a certain amount of records.
Axel Rudi Pell is certainly a very talented act to this very day, but if the band is going to survive in the modern era, they must take more chances. MYSTICA is lacking danger, boldness, and the edge that makes Heavy Metal such an exhilarating style of music. Many will think that this goose is too large to lay an egg that’s not golden. There can be a lot of character in being conservative, but they’re missing the essence of rebellion that Metal so sorely requires.