Pell, Axel Rudi - Shadow Zone

Year of Release: 2002
Label: SPV
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 61:24:00

Axel Rudi Pell is one of those artists that everybody knows but not everybody owns. Axel began his musical career with the band Steeler, who released some four albums, before he began his solo career. He is recognised as one of Germany's most notable guitarists and his music centres around melodic songs perpetrated by impressive guitar riffs and a solid amount of soloing. Shadow Zone presents us with album number 12 from the 42 year old maestro.

An ARP release is usually reliable and dependable and Shadow Zone is another in a long list of formulaic creations. Everything from the structure of the songs to their lengths will be familiar to the knowledgeable ARP fan. Is this bad? Not necessarily. Especially when the actual albums are of a high quality.

Aside from Axel, the best thing ARP has going for them is that they have at their disposal one of the most formidable and under-rated vocalists in musical history - Johnny Gioeli (Hardline). His performance, whilst superb, could be criticised as uncreative and generic due to the rigid nature of ARP albums but for my mind Johnny possesses an unmistakeable voice whose temperance and self-control is as noticeable as his passion. He makes ARP albums what they are. Also following Axel is drumming whore Mike Terrana (Rage and a million other bands) and Rough Silk keyboardist Ferdy Doernberg (may ye never release another solo album again). Volker Krawczak (ex-Steeler) is also back on bass. One thing I'd like to say about the band is that they have definitely perfected their craft.

There is really some outstanding guitar wank (sorry, work) from Axel and I feel that, whilst not the most inventive, it is some of his most melodic and rhythmical that he's created for some time. Speaking of producing (you mean we weren't?), the album was produced by Axel and Ulrich Poesselt. Some songs are fairly straight forward and melodic like "Follow The Sign" and the opener "Edge Of The World" that are comparable to other Axel openers "Earls Of Black" (from The Masquerade Ball) and "Pay The Price" (from Oceans Of Time). The longer, "epic" numbers have, again, a similarity about them but each and every one of them is a terrific song from "Coming Home," "Live For The King," "All The Rest Of My Life," and "Time Of The Truth." Each has its own charisma that is tangibly evident. The other musicians seem a fraction incidental but they each play an important role. A track like "Heartbreaker" won't be felt in the heart as much as it will on your air guitar.

Hard rock of this quality is rare and whilst it doesn't diverge from what he has done over the last 3-4 albums, Axel Rudi Pell is one artist you should have in your collection - and Shadow Zone is a perfect way to start.

[This review originally appeared November 2002 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]

The Curse Of The Chains (Intro) / Edge Of the World?/ Coming Home / Live For The King / All The Rest Of My Life / Follow The Sign? / Time Of The Truth / Heartbreaker / Saint Of Fools / Under The Gun

Axel Rudi Pell - guitars
Johnny Gioeli - vocals
Mike Terrana - drums
Volker Krawzcak - bass
Ferdy Doernberg - keys

Wild Obsession (1989)
Nasty Reputation (1991)
Eternal Prisoner (1992)
The Ballads (1993)
Between The Walls (1994)
Made In Germany (1995)
Black Moon Pyramid (1996)
Magic (1997)
Oceans Of Time (1998)
The Ballads II (1999)
Masquerade Ball (2000)
The Wizards Chosen Few (2000)
Shadow Zone (2002)
Knights Live (2002)
Kings And Queens (2002)
The Ballads III (2004)

Genre: Melodic Metal

Origin DE

Added: December 5th 2004
Reviewer: Gary Carson
Artist website:
Hits: 874
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]