AXEL RUDI PELL
"Game of Sins"

(Steamhammer/SPV)

01. Lenta Fortuna (intro)
02. Fire
03. Sons in the Night
04. Game of Sins
05. Falling Star
06. Lost in Love
07. The King Of Fools
08. Till the World Says Goodbye
09. Breaking the Rules
10. Forever Free
11. All Along the Watchtower (digipack bonus track)

RATING: 7/10

Axel Rudi Pell is a power metal engine that can and can some more. Celebrating 25 years as a solo artist in 2014, the former STEELER guitarist dropped a three-disc live commemoration, "Magic Moments: 25th Anniversary Special Show", in early 2015. Now boasting a remarkable 17 original studio albums, four ballad compilations and a handful of live recordings stacked within a quarter century, Axel Rudi Pell is a quantifiable metal hero. That being said, his latest offering, "Game of Sins", has the right intentions but sadly, not a lot of starch. It's not a bad album, but it is evident Axel went through the motions in a haste to drop new product on the heels of his gleaming streak.

Leading off with a twisted oom-pah and organ-smashed instrumental, "Lenta Fortuna", the album then kicks out the trad metal piece, "Fire". Lyrically announcing the rise of Lucifer and the downfall of a morally bankrupt world, the song is merely okay; a prototype power cut with barely enough thrust. Thereafter, "Sons in the Night" picks up the pace a smidge, given bigger clout thanks to Bobby Rondinelli, who nearly owns this album. Stuffing all the typical metal idioms as the choruses can withstand (i.e. "restless and wild," "never surrender" and "ready to fight"), "Sons in the Night" is a fan pleaser with staple power chords and Axel's gnarly guitar wizardry.

The title track is one of three marathons the others being "Forever Free" and "Till the World Says Goodbye". As he's done many times before, Axel Rudi Pell toasts Ronnie James Dio on "Game of Sins", right down to the archetype slow march and windswept choruses. Though Johnny Gioeli doesn't try to mimic Dio by pitch, he emulates the latter in the extensive carrying of his notes. Bobby Rondinelli pounds the crap out of of "Falling Star", another song tipping its hat to Dio. The slogging trudge of "Till the World Says Goodbye", another would-be Dio epic, sports a terrific, emotive guitar solo. If there's one song that likely changed the course of Axel's career, it has to be "Egypt (The Chains Are On)". Does "Forever Free" take the same cue? Hey, did RJD look through the light to find a sacred heart?

As with much of "Game of Sins", the ballad "Lost in Love" is played to standard, minus a tasty violin that dresses it up nicely. "The King of Fools" is dialed back in rhythm and could use a hair more urgency, albeit it does boast the album's best set of melodies. The bonus track to "Game of Sins" is a cover of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" as strangled and rattled by Jimi Hendrix, though bearing a new arrangement to the intro. Really, the only reason to listen to this version is to hear Axel flail away, which he does delightfully.

Story continues after advertisement

While all the parts are played as tightly as ever, there's a thin sound to the production that hurts "Game of Sins". Ferdy Doernberg's keys are often globby and to be frank, the album simply has its foot off the gas more than on it. Bobby Rondinelli being a spectacular exception, "Game of Sins" is pedestrian stuff. Axel Rudi Pell is perhaps guilty of trying to hurriedly capitalize upon the momentum of his silver anniversary, and fans know that he is more than capable of delivering entertaining power metal records after doing it longer than many. This one, unfortunately, is bare minimum.

COMMENTS

To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@)gmail.com with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).