Axel Rudi Pell – “Diamonds Unlocked II” (SPV)
Battle Helm Rating
Well, I wanted a rock out weekend and thanks to Axel Rudi Pell (ARP), I certainly got one thanks to this amazing record! The follow-up to 2007’s “Diamonds Unlocked”, this 11 track covers album has long been in the mind of the world-renowned guitarist, who wisely opted to record it during the pandemic in order to keep his fans satiated while delaying the release of any new material until it could be followed up by a live tour. Despite ARP’s talents, not forgetting those of his seasoned band, the sheer range of artists covered on “Diamonds Unlocked II” is truly impressive, ranging from The Subways to The Rolling Stones and even Abba, so definitely not your run of the mill line-up! Opening with a kick ass version of Sammy Hagar’s ‘There’s Only One Way To Rock’ from 1982, vocalist Johnny Gioeli shows his worth once again in bringing this 1982 classic back to the fore, while ARP astounds (as always) on the solo in using Van Halen’s version by playing both Sammy Hagar’s and Eddie Van Halen’s solos but in his own unique style – wow!! A lifelong admirer of Ritchie Blackmore and having drummer Bobby Rondinelli now in his band only makes you confident of a Rainbow number and indeed, ‘Lady Of The Lake’ taken from 1978’s “Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll” doesn’t disappoint through its thumping drums and driving riffs, but importantly the beautiful slide guitar work and Gioeli’s soulful tribute to the late but never forgotten Ronnie James Dio on a number that funnily enough Rainbow never played live. Heading right back to 1973 to leave the amps smoldering on Geordie’s ‘Black Cat Woman’, ARP’s heavy riffs offset by sultry melodies are matched by Gioeli’s power and passion taking in Brian Johnson‘s rerecording from 1989 on this brilliant re-run with tons of hard rock energy and verve to boot. Needless to say, it all adds to the eager anticipation for the next studio release scheduled for spring 2022!