It’s always nice to have certain “sure things” in metal. And one of those sure things is the fact that just about every two years we are treated to new material from Guitar God AXEL RUDI PELL and his longtime bandmates. Remember, I came onboard this train roughly four years ago with Into the Storm, an album I really liked, and subsequently 2016’s Game of Sins, which I love, as does Mini-Amps. That is still his favorite record from the group. Mine, too. In fact it was on my Top Albums list for that year and still remains in steady rotation here at A&GS HQ. So it was with obvious delight that I pressed PLAY on new disc Knights Call, coming March 23 on Steamhammer/SPV Records.
Everything that makes this band great is once again on full display, starting of course with Johnny Gioeli’s vocals that complement the guitar riffage so well. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Gioeli is hands down one of the best singers on this planet and it is always a joy to hear him. The opening one-two punch of fast-paced “The Wild and The Young” (which I guarantee is the tour opener as well!) followed by “Wildest Dreams”and its stadium-sized chorus totally sets the tone for the record. Ferdy Doernberg’s keyboards really enhance the latter and mesh nicely with Pell’s rock riff, while the bass of Volker Krawczak and drums of Bobby Rondinelli give it that extra swagger that truly great rock songs have. Pell’s best solo is arguably on this one, too.
Another anthemic track is next with “Long Live Rock.” Pell has stated that when he was writing the tunes for this album he had that live atmosphere in mind, and it clearly shows. Who wants to just sit there and slightly bob their heads when listening to killer rock and metal? You wanna be up, on your feet, screaming, with fists pumping. That’s exactly what this one should have you doing. The first of three epics shows up with “The Crusaders of Doom” which clocks in at 8:01. In typical ARP style this is one that is not long for the sake of being long, or to have a million solos. It’s all about drawing the listener in and telling a story, something he manages to do again and again.
Smack dab in the middle of things is instrumental “Truth and Lies”, during which Pell goes to town, but the other musicians also have plenty of chances to shine. Doernberg, Krawczak, and Rondinelli all get their turn at bat. This man is the very definition of an unselfish player. He just wants to make music people will love. That’s not to say he doesn’t let ‘er rip with the solos, because boy does he! Things slow down for yet another one of ARP’s classic ballads in the 7:45 “Beyond the Light”. Gioeli is just incredible on this one. “Slaves On the Run” is surely a sign of the times lyrically while “Follow the Sun” is another balls-out rocker with a slightly off-kilter main riff that really stands out to me each time I listen.
Closing the disc is the nearly ten minute “Tower of Babylon”, arguably one of the greatest epics in this band’s history. With a medieval flair, and trappings of RAINBOW and LED ZEPPELIN, this is destined to be hailed as a classic not just now, but for years to come. If you’re not clamoring to hear this song again when it’s over you’re beyond help. All told the boys have done it once again. AXEL RUDI PELL and Co. have delivered yet another winner of an album with Knights Call. If you loved his last two records, then you’ll certainly love this one! Now, if we could only get them to tour the U.S. just once before I die…
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Wildest Dreams”, “Follow the Sun”, “Tower of Babylon”, “Long Live Rock”, “The Wild and the Young”