Axel Rudi Pell – “Knights Call” (Steamhammer / SPV)
‘….why should I retire? As long as I can do what I like I’m the happiest man in the world!….’ so says 57 year old guitarist Axel Rudi Pell, and on the strength of this album, who can argue? Long known as having been touched spiritually by the majesty of guitar god Ritchie Blackmore, Pell has become renowned as a melodic hard rock genius in his own right. Since 1981, he has built the legend and now on this 17th album, he shows his measure once more! Rooted in 70s classic hard rock taking in the sounds and styles of Deep Purple and Rainbow, Pell has used his skill to offer a contemporary interpretation which is fresh and energetic, yet still with the authenticity and essence of the original blueprint. Assembling a stellar cast of musicians including Bobby Rondinelli (Rainbow) and Johnny Gioeli (Hardline, Crush 40), he has the foundation to bring the magic of his epic compositions, resplendent with deep and powerful melodies but equally ballsy hard rock – the ultimate effect of which is that you’re gonna be hearing something catchy and definitely memorable! On “Knights Call” there’s actually more of a band ‘democracy’, with Ferdy Doernberg’s keyboards prominent in the mix and even the sound of Volker Krawczak’s bass rumbling along with the occasional break here and there which is great. With a rolling riff on ‘The Wild And The Young’, Gioeli brings in his impassioned vocals to add to the catchy chorus before Pell delivers the slam dunk through his amazing solo that just exudes as much passion as virtuosity – amazing! On the chugging ‘Slaves On The Run’ Gioeli and Doernberg add the majestic melodic contrast to Pell’s raw guitar as it churns out blistering breaks in between keeping the hard rocking momentum of the song – along with Rondinelli’s timely thumping beats – right until the end. If it’s an anthem you crave then it doesn’t get any better than ‘Long Live Rock’ with its addictive riff and Gioeli’s soulfulness contrasted by the macho shouted out chorus of ‘Long Live Rock!!’. Simplistic it may seem, but the devil is in the details and Pell has perfected these to a fine art over the decades to produce not just perfection in his performance, but something hugely memorable each time – and naturally suited to the live setting where incidentally he thrives. Just ask the 1.5 million people worldwide who’ve bought his albums!