Label: SPV/Steamhammer 2014
Review by Rich Dillon
Axel Rudi Pell, the German born guitarist who began in 1984 with Steeler (a German band and not to be confused with the American band featuring Ron Keel and Yngwie Malmsteen) has returned in 2014 with a new album, Into the Storm. After four albums with Steeler, Pell went on to a successful solo career issuing fifteen studio releases. In January 2014 he unleashed the latest addition to the family with Into the Storm featuring a line-up of Pell on guitars, vocalist Johnny Gioeli (Hardline), bassist Volker Krawczak (Steeler), keyboardist Ferdy Doernberg (Eden’s Curse/Roland Grapow) and new drummer Bobby Rondinelli (Quiet Riot/Doro/Black Sabbath/Rainbow) who replaced long time skin pounder Mike Teranna for this outing.
Into the Storm opens up into a 1:48 instrumental entitled “The Inquisitorial Procedure”, which has me inquiring if this album will be any good, having no previous experience with Axel Rudi Pell. “Tower of Lies” immediately answered the question with a resounding “yes”! I’ve always loved Johnny Gioeli’s vocal prowess with Hardline and he shines through here already. The chunky, meaty power riffs continue throughout the release on cuts like “Touching Heaven”, “Changing Times”, “Long Way to Go”, the charging “Burning Chains” and “High Above”. I’m always against the inclusion of a ballad, not being a fan personally, but “When Truth Hurts” is at least a good showcase for the strength and originality of Gioeli’s vocal chords. Canadian icon Neil Young gets a nod with a slowed down cover version of his “Hey, Hey, My, My”. The title track “Into the Storm” shuts things down in a more than ten minute opus. If you happen to purchase the digipak bonus edition you’ll receive two extra tracks in “White Cats (Opus #6 Scivolare)” and “Way to Mandalay”. Aside from the first intro, the compositions here are all over 5 minutes in length save for two and Into the Storm is a solid metal offering, enough to prompt me to search out more of Pell’s discography especially the Gioeli fronted issues.