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AXEL RUDI PELL Risen Symbol

By George Dionne, Podcaster
Sunday, July 7, 2024 @ 10:59 AM


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AXEL RUDI PELL
Risen Symbol

Steamhammer/SPV
www.axel-rudi-pell.de




Having followed AXEL RUDI PELL since the release of 2004's Kings And Queens, I knew exactly what to expect on the German guitarist's 22nd studio album Risen Symbol.

A brief instrumental intro track ("The Resurrection"), a bombastic and energetic opening number ("Forever Strong"), a 7-10 minute epic ("Ankhaia"), and a soulful ballad ("Crying In Pain"). While I am a believer in artists not straying too far from what they're known for, I've kind of had enough of the ARP formula. I can't imagine I'm the only one.

While the lead-in song "Forever Strong" is an easy hard rocker to enjoy, the next song up, "Guardian Angel", has some issues. The riffs and chord structure feels very familiar, like a past ARP song or two, and the melody line does as well. Longtime vocalist Johnny Gioeli does his melodic best with some really cheesy lyrics:

"Guardian angel, you stand the test of time. Guardian angel, in a world of crime. Guardian angel, life's no pantomime. Guardian angel, the fools don't give a dime."

Normally, ARP saves his cover songs for his Diamonds Unlocked series, but this time around he and Gioeli take on LED ZEPPELIN's "Immigrant Song". While I can appreciate that Axel made the solo section a little more interesting than the original, this just isn't the right vehicle for Johnny.

The 10+ minute epic "Ankhaia" actually sounds more like LED ZEPPELIN than their cover. The song has a tight groove that keeps the listener engaged for the whole ride. It's the standout track on the album. ARP delivers a fiery guitar solo on "Hell On Fire", but as for the rest of the album, it's ARP going through the motions of what he is known for.

I can appreciate Axel Rudi Pell adding some Eastern guitar techniques to a couple of the tracks on Risen Symbol, but I don't understand why he doesn't embrace more of that throughout the album. If he had, maybe it could have been said this was something different from AXEL RUDI PELL.

I don't hear a song here that is memorable enough to stay in Pell's setlist over time. As a fan, I can honestly say that about the music from the last 4-5 albums as well. While initially enjoyable, those albums are out of my listening rotation in about 3-4 months.

Axel Rudi Pell is a great guitarist and Johnny Gioeli's gritty, melodic vocals have complimented him well over the years. Unfortunately, Risen Symbol is more of the same, and it's enough already. Now bring on the next live album, ballads compilation, and covers collection. Fans know it's inevitable.

2.5 Out Of 5.0


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