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Album Reviews : Axel Rudi Pell – The Crest

By on August 24, 2010

“The Crest” sees the return of German guitar hero Axel Rudi Pell and like AC/DC, Motorhead, Hammerfall, and Manowar…There aren’t too many surprises with an Axel Rudi Pell release. You KNOW what to expect before the first track even starts. In Pell’s case you know you are going to get melodic songs with a lot of hooks and of course Pell’s first-class guitar work.

While there is no disputing that the great reputation Pell has acquired over the years is justly deserved, it has been a while since he’s delivered a truly storming album. “The Crest” comes close but it falls just short. The Crest is definitely a solid album and fans of melodic guitar-driven metal are bound to like it in whole or in parts, but is pretty much the same from start to finish, except that perhaps the songs get slower as the record progresses. Pell has a truly great backing band especially with one of the finest voices in rock in Johnny Gioeli and the monster drummer Mike Teranna. Gioeli is in inspired form throughout this release but “The Crest” lacks a lot of the double-bass pounding that was so prevalent on much of Pell’s early work.

Things start well with two of the albums highlights back-to-back. “Too Late” (with its pounding riffage and catchy hook) and the fist-pumping “Devil Zone”, both songs sticking to the Pell standard of kick-ass, hard rocking melodies, simple, anthemic refrains, and those blistering vocals. The rest of the album really repeats this formula throughout, without necessarily reaching the same heights. That’s not to say that the rest of the album isn’t good (as it is very well done overall). It’s just that there isn’t too much variety to be found among the remaining tracks. Having said that, “Prisoner of Love” is a fine slab of melodic metal and lifts the album a notch.

Guitar solos and riffs abound all over the place on this album. There is little doubting that when he is on fire, Pell is truly unstoppable. He is the definite “star” of this album. However whilst his performance on “The Crest” is as solid as ever, the overall feel of the songs leaves me feeling that I’ve heard this all before. The only real exception here is the dark “Dreaming Dead”, where Ferdy Doernberg’s refrained yet effective keys really bring the bombast to the fore.

Everything on offer here is far from original, but to be honest that’s the only drawback. I’d rather listen to an album where a lot of the songs sound “same-ish” if it is done well, rather than hearing a band experiment too much with very mixed results. All in all, ‘The Crest’ is a fine slab of melodic metal, but typical fare from Pell….good, (but not excellent), familiar (but not bad).

In keeping with standard Pell albums, the production on this album is very heavy and crystal clear with Pell’s guitars being very prominent in the mix. This really brings out the riffs contained on this disc, maybe to the detriment of the keys which are largely missing in many of the songs.

If melodic songs, powerful riffs and powerful vocals are your thing, then definitely give this album a chance. This album would really appear to people that aren’t too familiar with Pell’s previous work. It’s a definite step up from 2008’s “Time of The Oath”. 7/10

Band: Axel Rudi Pell
Album: The Crest
Year: 2010
Genre: Heavy metal/Hard rock
Origin: Germany
Label: SPV/Riot!
http://www.myspace.com/axelrudipellofficial

Track listing:
1.  Prelude of Doom
2. Too Late
3. Devil Zone
4. Prisoner of Love
5. Dreaming Dead
6. Glory Night
7. Dark Waves of the Sea (Oceans of Time Pt.II: The Dark Side)
8. Burning Rain
9. Noblesse Oblige (Opus #5 Adagio Contabile)
10. The End of Our Time

About

Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.