January 14, 2016 Axel Rudi Pell – Game of Sins (Album Review)
Making music for nearly thirty-five years, the German guitarist known as Axel Rudi Pell has become a legend. Beginning with the band Steeler, Pell departed to jump into his solo career, debuting with Wild Obsession in 1989. Since that time, he and his band have performed tons of shows, toured extensively, and released sixteen studio albums, gaining him attention all around the globe. In fact, one could be so bold to say, Pell is one of the most famous Heavy Metal guitarists in the world. Now in 2016, Pell, along with Vocalist Johnny Gioeli, Keyboardist Ferdy Doernberg, Bassist Volker Krawczak, and highly accomplished Drummer Bobby Rondinelli return with a new record, Game of Sins. Marking Rondinelli’s second album with Axel Rudi Pell, the first being 2014’s Into the Storm, the band’s seventeenth overall studio album is set for release on January 22nd via SPV/Steamhammer, and could be one of their biggest highlights.
Starting out with evil laughter and carnival tunes, Axel Rudi Pell opens the album with “Lenta Fortuna (Intro).” After the evil and gloomy intro, “Fire” starts out with fast and thriving guitar riffs. Strong vocals by Gioeli and a steady beat of Rondinelli create a catchy song that will immediately stick in the listener’s head. Continuing with legendary guitar riffs, Pell’s fingerwork keeps the bar high on “Sons In The Night,” which is a little darker in the beginning, accompanied by a heavy beat on the drums. Then, “Game Of Sins” opens a different door in the imagination of the listener, leaving an open field to be filled with everything that comes into mind as the song plays out. Almost nine minutes long, the track is powerful and a journey onto itself.
Moving right along at a even flow, “Falling Star” is another strong and heavy song with raging lyrics that are easy to sing along. Featuring a chorus that will embed in one’s mind, the arrangements are free from edges and are almost hypnotizing with the steady rhythm. In other words, they are almost relaxing and freeing. Then, “Lost In Love” begins with chanting of a monk choir before the strong vocals of Gioeli set in. Building up anticipation, first the song is only accompanied by Pell’s strumming on an acoustic guitar, then the rest of the band sets in to create an epic sound. It is a brilliant love song that will cause goosebumps. Faster and more thriving, “The King Of Fools” brings back the motion to urge the listener to swing back and forth, or from side to side.
As Game of Sins burns further, “Till The World Says Goodbye” once again has a heavy and irresistible rhythm. With hypnotizing chanting in the background, accenting Gioeli’s passionate lead, it is almost like a sermon or a speech. Then there are the words of the track which attack the serious topic of global warming. Picking up the tempo, “Breaking The Rules” is a more rapid offering that spreads positive vibes, that will inspire the listener to revolt, but in a good way. After a successful rebellion, “Forever Free” brings the listener closer to the end of Game of Sins with an epic and beautifully pure message of independence. Those who are lucky enough to purchase the digipak edition of the album will be treated to a bonus track, which is a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along The Watchtower.” A legendary Rock-n-Roll song, it begins with more chants, accompanied by Pell’s killer guitar solos, followed by Gioeli’s fitting voice, which is accompanied by a piano. With the entire band set in, it becomes an unique rendition on the classic tune in a fashion only Axel Rudi Pell can offer.
With eleven tracks in total, bonus track included, Game of Sins lasts just over an hour and is a strong Heavy Metal offering with a classic touch. Continuing in the style they have built for two decades, Axel Rudi Pell created an album that is a must have for all fans of ’80s Metal, and of course, the guitar work of Pell himself. Unifying tight arrangements and breathtaking vocals by Gioeli, it is riveting music that empowers the listeners and gives strength. CrypticRock gives Game of Sins 4 out of 5 stars.