Axel Rudi Pell - Tales Of The Crown (SPV/Riot)

Ever wondered what German Metal legends The Scorpions would sound like with Ronnie James Dio out front? Well look no further Axel Rudi Pell has the answer!

While German guitarist Axel Rudi Pell’s eighteenth album, Tales Of The Crown offers nothing new in the metal/rock stakes it doesn’t really have to.  He knows what he’s doing, hell he’s been doing it for more than twenty years after all.  A rock solid rhythm section, a great American voice in singer Johnny Gioeli, a slew of great riffs and a guitar sound that reeks of Euro prog metal all add up to an album that won’t disappoint fans. It may just get him some new ones but certainly doesn’t scale any new heights.

Gioeli has a style that does emulate Ronnie James Dio in parts and the first half of this album had me thinking of Dio era Rainbow which is no surprise really since the band has contributed to a Dio tribute album and covered Rainbow in the past.  Soon though the band was tapping into The Scorpions vein, particularly with the obligatory power ballad/snail trail track Touching My Soul

I’m no big fan of the lighter waving ballad anyway but following it up with a toe-tapping little instrumental called Emotional Echoes that ran for five damn minutes didn’t help the cause either.  A good sound, but the sort of thing you used to hear as the run out jam on an album -- not plonked right in the middle!

After that, things slowly picked up but even the title track was looking a little limp by the time it came around.  There was just a feeling by then of having heard it all before.  Which is a pity because by itself Tales Of The Crown is a pretty damn fine example of power metal.  And the next track Buried Alive was a solid, kick arse rocker but I get the feeling some people are going to miss it, having zoned out by then.  Don’t get me wrong -- there is nothing wrong with this album, but if it had been recorded back in the days of vinyl, it would have been a great album: no filler, no instrumental – it would have been solid rock.  As it is, and like so many other albums of the day – that need to give the punter the extra tracks, to release at least a solid hour or more of music – it has been watered down. 

Think of the best metal albums – Reign In Blood, Master Of Puppets, Bonded By Blood, etc etc – short, sharp, hit you hard, 30-40 minutes and out the door.  That’s the way it should be sometimes.  The advent of the compact disc may give us extra music and bonus tracks, but sometimes we really don’t need them.  There’s a solid half dozen tracks here that I will be playing over and over but the others – well, that’s what the skip button is for.


Axel Rudi Pell's Tales of the Crown is out now on SPV/Riot.