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Axel Rudi Pell – Lost XXIII Award winner

Axel Rudi Pell
Lost XXIII
by Mark Machlay at 10 May 2022, 5:40 AM

Following up on the commercial success of their previous album just over two years ago, AXEL RUDI PELL returned with their 19th album of new material with “Lost XXIII” this past April 15th. Namesake German guitarist, Axel Rudi Pell has been in the industry for over 40 years starting with German heavy metal band STEELER IN 1981 until they split up in 1988. Ever since, he has forged his own path with a solo career. During this time, he has played with such drummers as Jörg Michael and Mike Terrana, and singers Charlie Huhn, Johnny Gioeli of HARDLINE, Jeff Scott Soto, and Rob Rock. Gioeli remains the longest surviving vocalist of the band, having been with the group since 1998 on the album “Oceans of Time”, marking Gioeli's first musical appearance since HARDLINE’S 1992 album “Double Eclipse”. In 2019 the band celebrated their 30th anniversary, releasing the double live album, “XXX - 30th Anniversary Live”. The group has also paid tribute to past bands with the first cover album “Diamonds Unlocked” in 2007 with the sequel being released just last year titled “Diamonds Unlocked II”.

Pell has said that his music is like a knight in shining armor going on various adventures with each album continuing one quest after another, yet songs are told as separate stories. “Lost XXIII” follows that same philosophy but there are easter eggs tucked into the title as well. Pell himself explains, “XXIII is the Roman numeral for 23 and stands for W, the 23rd letter of the alphabet. Which in this case is an abbreviation of ‘world’, so you could also call the album ‘Lost World’, a reference to the currently pretty alarming state of our planet.” For more than thirty years, the guitarist and songwriter from Bochum, Germany has not only been releasing albums with his AXEL RUDI PELL band but also kept his partnership with record label Steamhammer/SPV throughout since the very first full-length album “Wild Obsession” in 1989. Since 2014, the lineup has been solid and returning players such as longtime bassist Volker Krawczak, Ferdy Doernberg on keyboards since 1998, and newest member drummer Bobby Rondinelli returns alongside vocalist Gioelli and Pell himself.

Seemingly one of the hardest working musicians in the business, AXEL RUDI PELL rarely wavers in the quality of their output after putting out material steadily, nearly every year. “Lost XXIII”, of course, is of no exception. After a brief and subtle intro track, the band launches into “Survive”, a suitably punchy and fast opener that serves Gioelli’s voice well and shows off why the late great Ronnie James Dio is a strong influence for the vocalist. “No Comprimise” brings the energy down a bit, choosing instead to focus on in-the-pocket rhythm work with a ripper of a solo to flourish. The strong 80’s metal can be felt in this song as well as “Down on the Street” with just as much wild theatrics in the guitar category. Pell even shows off a bit with an instrumental track – “The Rise of Ankhoor” – later in the album with Volker Krawczak opening the track, affording the entire band to get a chance to show off their skills. But what is really magical is what the long musical partnership of Pell and Gioelli is able to achieve with the two ballads “Gone with the Wind” – a nice, energetic chorus accompanies this one – and “Fly With Me”.  But if none of that does it for you, stick around until the end, as they end on a long and epic power ballad with the title track “Lost XXIII”.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Lost XXIII Prequel
2. Survive
3. No Compromise
4. Down on the Streets
5. Gone with the Wind
6. Freight Train
7. Follow the Beast
8. Fly with Me
9. The Rise of Ankhoor
10. Lost XXIII
11. Quarantined 1
Lineup:
Johnny Gioeli - Lead & Backing Vocals
Axel Rudi Pell - Lead, Rhythm & Acoustic Guitars
Ferdy Doernberg - Keyboards
Volker Krawczak - Bass
Bobby Rondinelli – Drums
Record Label: SPV/Steamhammer Records
     


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