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Axel Rudi Pell: Into the Storm
Since forming self-titled band, Axel Rudi Pel, the German guitarist has captivated listeners with his special legato techniques and fantasy subject matter. His 16th studio album, Into the Storm, marks the first album produced since the departure of one of Axel Rudi Pell's most prolific members, drummer Mike Terrana.
Incorporating the timeless style and techniques of the 80's and early 90's heavy metal and rock, Into the Storm is a testament to the neo-classical elements that Axel Rudi Pell has formed over the years. Beginning with a regal, naval-inspired anthem, 'The Inquisitorial Procedure' is made up of modulated guitars and atmospheric keyboards, and sets the epic tone for the entire album.
After the calming, yet repetitive, intro track, the deafening power chords of the second track seem a little out of place, and 'Tower of Lies' cuts through to the heart of the album. Entrenched in fantasy and bleeding-heart rock ballads, the band manages to retain all the original aspects of metal, without crossing over to modern musical trends.
Long-serving vocalist, Johnny Gioeli, shows unfortunate signs of aging with his vocal presence becoming less commanding than on previous albums. This is especially highlighted when he solos in 'When the Truth Hurts' and 'Touching Heaven', without the distraction of the orchestral power behind him.
Although most of the lyrical content is saturated with cliché subject matter like love and overused battle-anthem cries, some tracks manage to capture the pure, unadulterated essence of what Axel Rudi Pell is known for. Tracks such as 'Changing Times', 'Into the Storm' and bonus track featuring Ritchie Blackmore, 'Way to Mandalay', all remain loyal to their sound.
Whilst not providing any new concepts or impressive material, Into the Storm is more than just another annual studio production, and contains enough affirmations in musical technicality to satisfy old school heavy metal fans.
Just ask Guns ‘n Roses’ Axl Rose or try and listen to any recent Korn album without cringing. Many bands quit (R.E.M., Sonic Youth), others tone down their sound (Metallica) and some keep regurgitating what they’ve been doing for decades (The Rolling Stones).
Kim Thayil’s guitar traditionally wails around on the dissonant side of the spectrum and singer Chris Cornell still deals out high-pitched screeches like a rock version of Celine Dion – but they have audibly matured. And considering that the grunge kids of two decades ago have aged with them, many will appreciate this more grown-up, adult sound.
After 52 minutes, one question remains: now that Soundgarden seems to have arrived at their definitive sound, will they become one of those established bands that don’t evolve anymore? Like fellow Seattle-ites Pearl Jam, or grandfathers of rock Aerosmith, for example. Or will they continue to develop their sound, like Muse or Radiohead?
Having released no new material for almost a decade, Metallica finally return to the scene with their latest album Hardwired… to Self-Destruct. Written mostly by James Hatfield and Lars Ulrich, this is the first album that doesn’t include any song writing contributions from Kirk Hammett since he joined the band in 1983; when the album was being written, he lost his phone in a Copenhagen airport which included 250 riff ideas so he had to start from scratch.
The two disk album has 12 tracks in total with 6 on each that still retain the thrash metal vibe that Metallica has come to be known for. Following the same fast pace, the first song ,‘Hardwired’ starts with a steady drum and guitar riff that will get you head banging and tapping your feet in no time.
With strong songs like ‘Moth into Flame’ and ‘Halo on Fire’, the first disk has the familiar thrash tropes that make it what it is; it’s fast, it’s hard, it’s in your face and has an attitude, which is what makes Metallica so awesome.
However, the first disk is not without fault; the fifth song ‘Dream No More’ feels out of place musically as its rhythm and guitar work doesn’t feel cohesive with the rest of the songs on the disk, as if it was supposed to be on a different disk or in another album as it goes from fast then slow and conflicting itself.
The second disk, on the other hand, starts on a different note with songs like ’Am I Savage?’ and ‘Here Comes Revenge’ following a slower tone than the rest of the album, though ’Spit out the Bone’ might be the fastest song on the whole album and will surely make you feel like you need to catch your breath afterwards.
As a whole, the album sounds like one huge song, especially the first disk which feels fluid and, in a way, follows a rhythmic pattern; however, the second feels a bit tamed and toned down, as even though it has some fast-as-lighting guitar work, it still lacks some oomph to it. Still, it offers a level of satisfaction for diehard fans who have waited for eight years for new material.
All in all, Hardwired… to Self-Destruct is a great addition to the band’s discography; the band members have given it their all, while not showing their age. We just hope it doesn’t take them another eight years till the next one