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Axel Rudi Pell
Diamonds Unlocked
November 2007
Released: 2007, SPV/Steamhammer/Border Music
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall

One of Germany’s most versatile guitarists and long lasting artists has returned with a brand new album. Pell has been in the business for 25 years and now he’s decided to release a pure cover album. He’s interpreted other artists before but has always stressed that he didn’t have a hard rock and metal fixation.

Pell covers songs and artists like Kiss, Free, The Who, Riot, The Mission, Michael Bolton and Phil Collins. Pell and his accompanying musicians have managed to make the songs they cover sound completely like their own. And a few of the songs actually sound better. My personal favorite cover of the 11 tracks is the Riot cover “Warrior”. Pell upgrades it to a faster melodic hard rock song with sharp attacks of double bass pedal drums by Terrana; it’s the ultimate song to open the album with.

Another favorite is “Beautiful Day,” originally made by U2, which has been re-arranged as a melodic hard rock track with lots of space for guitars. “Love Gun” by Kiss has been taken down to an acoustic ballad where Terrana only plays percussion. It’s here that Pell proves he’s also a kick ass acoustic guitarist. The Who’s “Wont Get Fooled Again” is a solid rock anthem that closes this album. It’s a melodic hard rock tune with a lot of feeling and passion. Keyboardist Doernberg has a bigger part in the mix than before. Those are few of the greater songs on the album but there are a few that aren’t nearly as good as those. Pell has produced the album by himself and his long time partner in crime, Charlie Bauerfeind, is responsible for the mix this time. Pell has created a terrific production that includes lots of space for everyone to shine. Singer Gioeli is a rock and carries many of the songs on his shoulders.

This is a must-purchase for all Axel Rudi Pell fans worldwide. The album has its really strong moments with covers that are brilliant but there are a few songs that could and should have been left un-touched. It’s a fun album but I’d like to see Pell release a brand new album with his own material next time.
Track Listing

1. The Diamond Overture (intro)
2. Warrior
3. Beautiful Day
4. Stone
5. Love Gun
6. Fools Game
7. Heartbreaker
8. Rock The Nation
9. In The Air Tonight
10. Like A Child Again
11. Won’t Get Fooled Again

Lineup

Johnny Gioeli – lead vocals
Axel Rudi Pell – all guitars
Ferdy Doernberg – keyboards
Volker Krawezak – bass
Mike Terrana – drums

Interviews

Next review: » Axel Rudi Pell - Diamonds Unlocked
Previous review: » Axel Rudi Pell - Circle Of The Oath

Axel Rudi Pell
Diamonds Unlocked
February 2008
Released: 2007, SPV
Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewer: Waspman

Covers albums are a sketchy idea at the best of times. While most fans enjoy a cover song here and there, a whole album of covers is usually met with a lukewarm reaction at best. That’s probably because they usually suck (Six Feet Under’s two attempts being the most glaring examples). Or, it’s because they are obvious cash-grabs to keep a band’s name active while they work on their next “true” album.

I don’t know if that’s the case here with guitar-hero and long-time metal veteran Axel Rudi Pell, but I’m guessing it is. Mr. Pell’s last album, MYSTICA was a powerful slab of hard rock/metal taken into the stratosphere by Johnny Gioeli’s excellent vocals. A year later and the band is presenting us with some of Axel’s favourite songs from years past. The catch? They’re not necessarily metal or even hard rock songs. Seriously, take a gander over the track list and see how many metal songs there are (my count is at four – “Love Gun” is out because they do an acoustic version). A bit grim, no? Making matters worse is the fact that there are some truly horrible songs chosen, regardless of genre. Seriously guys, Phil Collins and Michael Bolton?

OK, so the track list leaves something to be desired, but not all is lost. The band’s cover of Riot’s “Warrior” is equally as ripping as the original. Free’s “Heartbreaker” is a good bluesy dirge, and their run through of Montrose’s fun “Rock the Nation” is entertaining. “Love Gun” is OK too, despite the emasculation.

Beyond those songs though, it’s a different story. The non-metal originals sucked when they were made, and they still suck now. “Stone” and “Like a Child Again” are passable ballads, but the cover of the immortal “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is just plain bad.

Sadly, DIAMONDS UNLOCKED is yet another in a long line of failed covers albums. Axel is a talented guitarist with a great band and at this point they should stick to their own material.
Track Listing

1) The Diamond Overture
2) Warrior (Riot)
3) Beautiful Day (U2)
4) Stone (Chris Rea/The Law)
5) Love Gun (Kiss)
6) Fools Game (Michael Bolton)
7) Heartbreaker (Free)
8) Rock the Nation (Montrose)
9) In the Air Tonight (Phil Collins)
10) Like a Child Again (The Mission)
11) Won’t Get Fooled Again (The Who)

Lineup

Johnny Gioeli: Vocals
Axel Rudi Pell: Guitar
Ferdy Doernberg: Keyboards
Volker Krawczak: Bass
Mike Terrana: Drums

Interviews

Next review: » Axel Rudi Pell - Into The Storm
Previous review: » Axel Rudi Pell - Circle Of The Oath





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