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Axel Rudi Pell - 'Circle Of The Oath' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/fe/d2/b0/2170_axelrudipellcircleoftheoath_1336321750.jpg Hot

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This is Pell as fans have come to expect, nay demand.

With the demise of Rainbow and the subsequent retirement from mainstream rock of the legendary Ritchie Blackmore, few would deny that the world of guitar driven mayhem is a poorer place. Over the years a few pretenders to the throne have emerged – Brazen Abbot looked promising for a while, and I’m intrigued to see where Readman and Beyrodt take Voodoo Circle going forward – but none have been anything like as constant or committed as Aryan axe hero Axel Rudi Pell.

Since his parting of the ways with Steeler after 88’s ‘Undercover Animal’ opus, Axel has almost singlehandedly fought to keep the spirit of Rainbow alive with an impressive series of ass kicking, yet highly mellifluous studio releases. Over the years he’s worked with a number of great vocalists – Jeff Scott Soto, Rob Rock, Charlie Huhn, and since 98’s storming ‘Oceans Of Time’ set, former Hardline man Johnny Gioelli – yet whilst each has certainly added his own personality to the final mix, the whole remains unmistakably Pell.

As both writer and guitarist Pell has that rare gift of knowing just how far he can push the listener; then just when attention spans start to waiver he cranks it up another couple of notches and snaps everyone back to reality ... inspired to some, complete anathema to others. Since ‘Eternal Prisoner’ nearly 20 years ago Axel has stuck largely within the confines of his own tried and tested formula, each subsequent album offering the odd tweak here and there yet largely remaining within his comfort zone. Some have levelled criticism at his efforts on this basis alone, but if ain’t broke why fix it? Let’s face it, it’s never done AC/DC any harm!

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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After perhaps treading water from 2004’s ‘Kings And Queens’ onwards, 2010’s dazzling ‘The Crest’ was a real return to his bombastic best, and the good news is that upcoming newbie ‘Circle Of The Oath’ (his fourteenth studio set would you believe!) continues to mine that same rich vein of form. Intro ‘The Guillotine Suite’ is a bit of a departure for the man I have to admit, and there are scattered passages elsewhere that hint at an exploratory spirit fighting for a say; but for the most part once again this is Pell as fans have come to expect, nay demand.

So, having plonked down your hard earned in anticipation you can expect a mixture of rabble rousing anthems, brooding ballads and slow burning epics all etched with a raging passion and that instantly identifiable guitar tone. No prizes for guessing that the remorseless ‘Bridges To Nowhere’ is currently getting some serious stick chez moi, but the atmospheric ‘Lived Our Lives Before’, intriguing title track ‘Circle Of The Oath’ and shimmering ‘World Of Confusion’ ain’t too far behind.

I doubt this will convert anyone sitting on the fence if I’m honest, but if like me you’re a Pell fan of old, it’ll do rather nicely!

Dave Cockett

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