Axel Rudi Pell – “Into The Storm” (Steamhammer / SPV)
“…There hasn’t been one day in my life when I haven’t been pushed by Ronnie James Dio’s spirit to write something mystical…”. It’s always been well known how much of an inspiration Ritchie Blackmore and 70s hard rock have been on the melodic metal maestro Axel Rudi Pell. Throughout his career and work the influences are there to be seen be it in the melodies, riffs and certainly his soloing. However, he may well be steering close to a storm on this album for some. This is easily the most Rainbow and Deep Purple sounding album he has ever done – it sounds so close there are plenty of moments like on ‘Long Way To Go’ and ‘Burning Chains’ it could well be either of those two bands! I’m not sure if its the recent arrival of drummer Bobby Rondinelli but everything has gone into full on Blackmore mode – scary for some certainly, although I personally found it bliss being a fan of Dio era Rainbow. Although Johnny Gioeli hasn’t changed his gravelly rock vocals one iota the sheer power of the melodies and riffs needn’t require him to do so, so strong are they that I’m almost expecting Blackmore himself to step outta the shadows with another one of his perverse pranks all too common back in those days. Even Ferdy Doernberg’s keys seem to have gone into Hammond organ overdrive like the ghost of John Lord has taken them over! Overall the tempo of the material on this 15th album has also slowed – yep, to something more in line with Rainbow where Rondinell’s hard hitting drum work and flashy changes can be fully appreciated as they were in – yep, Rainbow. Not even the Neil Young cover of ‘Hey Hey My My’ escapes the brilliance of Blackmore so much so that someone really ought to send him a copy and see what he thinks ha ha! Still, I found it highly enjoyable, not just being an excellent reminder of just how good 70s rock was but moreover, being the ultimate tribute that one musician could give another.