Before reviewing Axel Rudi Pell‘s Into The Storm two years ago, I was never really a fan. Sure I knew his name very well, but I never had a true push to give his stuff a listen. Around that time, I went back to listen to some of his previous albums – and there sure are a lot of them – to find that not all of them are as good as Into The Storm lead me to believe they could be. Some of them have some good songs on them, but for a guy who hasn’t gone more than two years without releasing an album since his first album with the band Steeler (not to be confused with the band of the same name that featured Yngwie Malmsteen) he sure has struggled to maintain consistency for anyone other than his devoted fan base. Given the full album vibe that Into The Storm gave, my expectations were high for its soon to be released follow-up, Game of Sins.
Starting with an instrumental (which is common of Axel Rudi Pell‘s albums) called “Lenta Fortuna,” it sets the theme for the rest of Game of Sins well. Mostly thanks to the synthesized sound of what I can best describe as monk’s chant. This chant is heard on a few other songs throughout the album, most notably the title track “Game of Sins” which serves as one of the longer songs on the album. Unlike Into The Storm which had one ten minute epic and then nine other modestly timed songs (typically in the span of four to six minutes) Game of Sins has three songs north of seven minutes, but “Game of Sins” proves to be the longest at 8:45. Like much of the album, the title track as well as fellow long song “Till The World Says Goodbye” are pretty standard songs, sure to please long time fans but nothing special otherwise. Being a ballad, closing track “Forever Free” is the better of the three long songs.
The songs on Game of Sins are mostly that of your standard traditional heavy metal album. You have fast hard hitting tracks like “Fire”, “Falling Star” and “King of Fools” as well as mystical sounding power metal styled tracks like “Sons in the Night” and “Breaking the Rules.” Always a sucker for ballads, I find I’m partial to “Lost in Love” despite how predictable it can get. The problem of these songs is that Axel Rudi Pell and his band do little to explore and rather make an album of songs that sound more of the same.
Despite some moments that are easy to differentiate over others, Game of Sins falls under the Axel Rudi Pell albums that don’t have much to offer anyone but long time fans. Like most of his past albums, the songs are reminiscent of classic rock and metal – I’m reminded most of Joe Lynn Turner fronted Rainbow albums, only heavier – and have strong potential to show that Axel Rudi Pell is a true veteran of the trade, but instead, Game of Sins is nothing more than another artist trying too hard to sound like it’s the 80’s, and rather than taking that and running with it like some bands have done pretty well in recent past, Axel Rudi Pell just kind of stands still with it. He’s created some good songs surrounded by other songs that sound so similar to the point where the one-dimensionality of it all just takes the best moments away.
“Sons in the Night” – Honestly, I just took the few songs that I think are very good and picked the one I thought rocked the most. I like the melodies of this tune over just about any other song, and the music stays true to that of what comes before it and after it on the album.
7 (Out of 10)
- Lenta Fortuna (intro) 1:24
- Fire 5:34
- Sons In The Night 5:07
- Game Of Sins 8:43
- Falling Star 5:14
- Lost In Love 6:07
- The King Of Fools 4:58
- Till The World Says Goodbye 7:40
- Breaking The Rules 5:07
- Forever Free 8:29
- All Along The Watchtower 6:03 (digipack bonus track)
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