The Ballads V by Axel Rudi Pell (Steamhammer / SPV Records)
Too much of good thing can be absolutely wonderful, and that is surely the case involving the 10 sweeping tracks packed within The Ballads V by the legendary Axel Rudi Pell. Although this is the fifth chapter in his ballad series, the songs contained within are vibrantly intoxicating, taking the listener on a glorious auditory odyssey that they’ll want to revisit time and again.
Pell’s own journey began in 1984 with time spent as the lead guitarist for the almighty Steeler, but his infinite legacy is found within the many magnificent solo entreaties commencing with 1989’s Wild Obsession. The Ballads V shows Pell and his powerhouse band at the very height of their creative prowess, unveiling superbly breathtaking compositions.
Even in the world of ballads and slow tempo songs, Pell continues to demonstrate why he is one of the most visionary guitarists on the planet. Combined with longtime collaborator (and Hardline front man) Johnny Gioeli and a cast of outstanding musicians, Axel Rudi Pell presents the next great chapter of a brilliant music career that shows no signs of stagnating. Combining new tracks, standout older songs, and staggering live numbers, The Ballads V is sure to delight longtime fans as well as the recently converted Pell admirers.
The Ballads V opens with the commanding refrains of Love’s Holding On, where vocalist Johnny Gioeli duets with none other than Bonnie Tyler from Total Eclipse Of The Heart/Holding Out For A Hero fame. What a staggering commencement this one is, with both singers ripping your heart to shreds with their superbly impassioned voices.
I See Fire is up next, a bluesy rendition of the Ed Sheeran song that sparkles with its “if it ends in fire, we should all burn together” reprieves. On The Edge Of Our Time is gorgeously mystical, with Pell, Gioeli and crew launching this original gem into the stratosphere. Pell and Company then present a triumphantly haunting cover of the Neil Young classic Hey Hey, My My, rendering this track their very own work of power ballad artistry. The tremendously moving Lived Our Lives Before originally from Circle Of The Oath is vastly effective within the contexts of The Ballads V.
When Truth Hurts from Into The Storm is up and what a poignant tapestry this one is! Forever Free and Lost In Love from Game Of Sins are displayed on The Ballads V, revisiting these remarkable selections from the not too distant past. Then it’s time for two live tracks, both showing just how dynamic the Axel Rudi Pell concert experience is! The Line is first with the Axel Rudi Pell band at their most passionate followed by a towering rendition of the Deep Purple classic Mistreated, where the virtuoso Pell really shines with his colossal guitar interludes at the forefront of this magnum opus.
In 2017, the Axel Rudi Pell lineup is nothing short of mesmerizing, featuring the grand participation of Johnny Gioeli on lead and backing vocals, Axel Rudi Pell on lead, rhythm, and acoustic guitars, Ferdy Doernberg on keyboards, Volker Krawczak on bass, and Bobby Rondinelli on drums. The Ballads V is a intensely emotional collection of tunes destined to inspire and enchant music fans from all over the world.
Here’s hoping we see Axel Rudi Pell touring here in the States soon – in the meantime be sure to check into what The Ballads V has to offer and prepare to be thoroughly enraptured by this timeless masterwork from a collective of truly great musicians!
(Review by Ken Morton)
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