With a new album out practically every second year, the casual observer could perhaps be forgiven for dubbing Axel Rudi Pell’s musical input as a regular run-of-the-mill job. Those acquainted with the guitar maestro’s work know that is not the case, as “Sign of the Times” clearly demonstrates.
“Sign of the Times” thrives on a template of rough and ready riffage, complimented by signature Pell guitar mastery erupting before a backdrop of substantive keys giving a whiff of 70 rock theater. Once again Johnny Gioeli is behind the microphone doing his formidable best, while the engine room is being operated by upright Volker Krawczak bass and muscular drumming by a certain Bobby Rondinelli.
The songwriting is strong, indicating that Pell lost none of his knack for dishing out quality hard rockers. He certainly knows how to channel the band’s energy into a sound that is raw, disciplined and with no pretense. “Gunfire” is particularly striking, allowing Axel to show of every bit of his magic – expressive and individual. There’s more fun in that department: “Wings of the Storm”, “Into the Fire” and the anthemic title number capture Axel Rudi Pell totally committed to the cause. “Living in a Dream” is the album’s biggest departure, initially anyway, being a reggae inspired rhythm and a nice melody served with it, only to be moulded into chunky rocker soon after.
There’s no need to pretend that this record is ground-breaking, but it is a labour of love that offers consistent quality. Apart from other merits it holds close to its chest, it also serves its purpose of reminding us just how lucky we are for having musicians like Axel Rudi Pell sticking around!
Axel Rudi Pell – Sign Of The Times (SPV Steamhammer)