Axel Rudi Pell – The Crest
Release Date: April 26th 2010
Highlights: Too Late, Devil Zone, Dreaming Dead, Dark Waves Of The Sea, Noblesse Oblige (Opus #5 Adagio Contabile)
With a career as long as it is obscure, German Metal guitar virtuoso Axel Rudi Pell was brought to my attention by an email. I was intrigued by the cover art of the album and his name so I decided without even looking into who this guy was to jump right into the album. At this point, all I knew was that he was a guitarist and that his lead vocalist was Johnny Gioeli (formerly of Hardline). Axel Rudi Pell’s career started over 25 years ago as the guitarist for prog metal legends Steeler. He would later leave that band and be replaced by a little guitarist by the name of Yngwie J. Malmsteen.
What do I love about this album? Where do I start? Well, I love it because it’s metal and very good metal at that. Right off the bat I was blown away. Old school metal once again with a touch of class. You can tell this guy has been at it for years. The album kicks off with the instrumental “Prelude of Doom” and goes right into “Too Late” which not only showcases what a great player Pell is but what a great singer Gioeli. This guy has got the pipes of a true old school metal singer. He doesn’t sound like one of these guys that “kinda gets it.” This guy has metal in his blood and it shows.
“The Crest” is yet another time machine that takes me back to those times of epic Heavy Metal music. “Devil Island” is an absolutely outstanding song that at times is Judas Priest and at times it’s Ronnie James Dio. Axel Rudi Pell is a riff monster that knows his art yet also knows when to say when. It’s completely obvious that this guy is an amazing guitarist but unlike guitarists like Yngwie, he doesn’t over indulge us with a case of diarrhea of the fingers. He seems to be way more comfortable to not just let the music do the talking but to let the songs do the talking.
“The Crest” has all the dynamics of a classic metal album. It covers the lighter side with the Scorpions tinged “Prisoner of Love” which is extremely hook laden and while a bit fluffy is still a great song. In true Metal fashion though, Pell and Co. bounce right back into form with songs like “Dreaming Dead” and “Dark Waves Of The Sea (Oceans Of Time Pt. II: The Dark Side)” which in my opinion shows just how much influence Ronnie James Dio has had on this man. One of my personal favorites is the absolutely beautiful instrumental “Noblesse Oblige (Opus #5 Adagio Contabile).” Again, what I love so much about Pell is that he has such a subtle approach to his playing. It’s tasteful, classy and it totally melts me both in intensity and in beauty. Instead of using opportunity to shred and show off, he shows that he’s got some serious emotion to his playing. The closing track “The End of Our Time” takes the album to an epic closing that gives you a sense of resolution to the album. The choice to put this as the albums closer was such a great call because it left me wanting more.
Axel Rudi Pell has managed to put out an album that is so spectacular that I cannot believe he’s not a household hame in the Heavy Metal community here in the US. Every element of a classic Heavy Metal album is in this record and then some. The production is absolutely outstanding and the album sounds larger than life. Johnny Gioeli on vocals sings with all the confidence and integrity of a vocalist that I would even say could be up there with the likes of Ronnie James Dio, Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson.
“The Crest” is an album that every Heavy Metal fan should not just own but own and love it! I am listening to this album for probably the 4th time as I write this and each time I find myself having to stop what I’m doing to take it in. “The Crest” is more than just an album. It is a true listening experience and I hope everyone that reads this will give it a listen and allow themselves to just drift off and into this record. It is a Metal Masterpiece and without a doubt one of my favorite releases of 2010!