Has there ever been a band or artist you’ve always been a long loyal follower of over the years and will never get tired of their songs even if their sound changes? That pretty much sums up me and the German guitar wizard Axel Rudi Pell who I’ve been following for nearly a decade now since first discovering his music.
Although while I may have felt indifferent to Pell’s last album ‘Game of Sins’ in 2016 due to the sound being different and not what I was expecting, I realized I was being too judgmental and needed to judge the music by focusing on what good there was. Can the new album ‘Knights Call’ due for release on March 23rd 2018 on SPV Records change my mind and warm me up to the new ARP sound even more? Let us find out.
As is the standard tradition with Pell’s albums, a short instrumental intro opens up the album to give us a taster of what to expect and ‘The Medieval Overture’ does just that, complete with haunting keys, medieval instruments that give off an eerie vibe and drums towards the end which add to the haunting aura of the track.
‘The Wild And The Young’ then kicks things off with a fast tempo track that features Pell’s lightning quick guitar work in both the main riffs and the blistering solo, all the while having an ace band of musicians backing him up including the powerful and intense vocals of the sensational Johnny Gioeli, the hard hitting beats of veteran Bobby Rondinelli, the symphonic melodies from the wizard of the keys Ferdy Doernberg and the deep bass lines from long time band member Volker Krawczak.
‘Wildest Dreams’ mixes things up a little by giving us a track that sounds very funky and groovy in terms of the melodies and the instruments that want you to get your body moving, be it the short but sweet groovy drum and bass roll at the start, the raw vocals, the fine tuned guitar work or the Deep Purple sounding keyboard melodies, there is definitely plenty about this song that will get you up on your feet and grooving.
‘Long Live Rock’ is quite simply put: an anthem, as the lyrics along with the catchy singalong melodies makes this an absolute must for rock shows, as it not only speaks to the inner rocker within us all, but also encourages us to let loose. The music that goes with this song sends out this message with pride thanks to the headbanging guitar riffs, the raw intense vocals, the gut kicking drums, the melodic keys and the deep bass grooves.
‘The Crusaders Of Doom’ immediately caught my attention the first time I heard it. Why? This could just be my imagination but to me, the lyrics tell a story that seems to connect with the five knights and their journey which is a recurring theme in Pell's albums. The composition of the song helps to create the mystical and fantasy-esque feel of the track, mainly thanks to the atmospheric keyboard melodies, the inventive guitar melodies and the goose-bump inducing vocals. All of these little things come together to deliver a song that not only reminds you of past ARP albums with their epic story telling melodies, but also gets your imagination working overtime by picturing in your head the scenes depicted in the lyrics.
The majority of Pell’s albums has at least one instrumental aside from the usual intro and this time around ‘Truth And Lies’ is that track as it allows Pell to show off his guitar playing prowess, complete with intense guitar riffs and blistering solos. Pell is not the only one who gets to show us what they can do, as keyboardist Doernberg shows us what he is made of on the keys with fast symphonic solos.
No ARP album is complete without a haunting and beautiful ballad and ‘Beyond the Light’ is that very song. From the moment it begins, the soul-stirring melodies from the keys/piano and Gioeli’s spine tingling vocals immediately sends a chill down your spine with intense passion. As if that wasn’t enough, the chorus melodies give you further goosebumps thanks to female vocals from Pamela Falcon, an American singer who Pell has known for a long time, which add an extra layer of emotive beauty to this song.
After the relaxing and beautiful melodies of the previous song cools us down, ‘Slaves On The Run’ and ‘Follow the Sun’ reignite the inner rocker within us to deliver not one but two headbanging tracks that deliver in your face awesomeness with their lightning quick guitar riffs, hard hitting drums and raw vocals that all work together as one in perfect unison to create rocking melodies.
‘Tower Of Babylon’ is the albums closer as well as the longest song on the album and I think this could be the albums second epic as it has all the right ingredients to make this one to remember and a great finisher. One of these ingredients is a mystical and haunting melody that is very Dio-esque, and it makes you feel like you’re in Egypt, as there’s just something about the composition of the main melody, such as the mystical guitars, the haunting keys or the Dio inspired vocals that reminds me of that country for some reason.
After listening to this a few times over, I can safely say that ‘Knights Call’ still has all the great ingredients that I expect from an ARP album and it also reminds me why I loved his music in the first place, as Pell still has the skills and the talent to write and perform some great and memorable melodies. Coupled with the amazing talents of the musicians who poured their heart and soul into this record, and you have a great album that is a must own when it comes out later this month.
The Medieval Overture (Intro)
The Wild And The Young
Long Live Rock
The Crusaders Of Doom
Truth And Lies (Instrumental)
Beyond The Light
Slaves On The Run
Follow The Sun
Tower Of Babylon
Johnny Gioeli - Vocals
Axel Rudi Pell - Guitar
Volker Krawczak - Bass
Ferdy Doernberg - Keys
Bobby Rondinelli - Drums
Website - https://www.axel-rudi-pell.de/