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Monday, May 27, 2024

Incoming! Axel Rudi Pell


No doubt about it: The world would be a much poorer place without Axel Rudi Pell. On his 22nd (!) studio album ‘Risen Symbol’, the Bochum-based guitarist and songwriter continues to fly the melodic hard rock flag without watering down his style with pseudo-modern stylistic variations or expendable studio gimmicks. At the same time, he is constantly looking for new influences, exciting inspirations and catchy hooks. One of the best things about ARP’s anthems is that they are perfectly tailored to the charismatic voice of frontman Johnny Gioeli. The American vocalist is one of the most eminent rock singers worldwide and, together with Pell, former Rainbow drummer Bobby Rondinelli, and the two longstanding ARP members Ferdy Doernberg (keyboards) and Volker Krawczak (bass), has been an integral part of a perfectly oiled machine for more than ten years, wowing fans and media alike. ‘Risen Symbol’ will be available on Steamhammer/SPV from 14 June 2024. For all those who can’t wait, 3 April 2024 will see the arrival of the lead single ‘Guardian Angel’, featuring two pre-release songs, followed on 22 May 2024 by ‘Darkest Hour’. Pell comments: “Both ‘Guardian Angel’ and ‘Darkest Hour’ are typical ARP songs, though not necessarily representative of ‘Risen Symbol’.”  

What the self-confessed Ritchie Blackmore and Jimi Hendrix fan is referring to: Within Pell’s characteristic mix of strong riffs and catchy melodies, his penchant for Black Sabbath (during the Ronnie James Dio and Tony Martin era) and Led Zeppelin in particular shines through on some of the new material, such as the anthemic, grooving ‘Ankhaia’ with its oriental flair, which could easily have been recorded by British rock legends Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. “To me, ‘Ankhaia’ is the number that Led Zeppelin forgot to compose,” explains Pell, tongue in cheek. “Although of course, ‘Ankhaia’ doesn’t come with a 70s sound, but has a contemporary flair and an awesome drum groove. I’m sure Page and Plant will love it when they hear it.” Pell’s self-penned lyrics about the fictitious city of the same name, a place of refuge that disappears into nothingness like a mirage, also fit the theme. Coincidentally, the ancient Egyptian ‘ANKH’ symbol, Pell’s inspiration for the song title, stands for a continuation of life in the afterlife.

And there’s a second, more obvious Led Zeppelin reference: ‘Risen Symbol’ has the ARP band cover the Zeppelin classic ‘Immigrant Song’, albeit featuring their own arrangement. Pell: “I discussed the idea with our drummer Bobby Rondinelli, who also drums in a Led Zeppelin cover band. Bobby thought it was great and agreed with me that to get away with a number like that, you need an outstanding singer like Johnny Gioeli. Johnny can sing Robert Plant’s high notes, rising to that challenge with flying colours!” Another brilliant feat is the fast-paced opener ‘Forever Strong’, with lyrics about the need to stand tall in a difficult and increasingly disintegrating world. How apt for such a breathtaking neckbreaker!

Finally, let’s talk about the impressive cover artwork courtesy of Axel Rudi Pell: “Visually, I wanted to take up where our 1996 album ‘Black Moon Pyramid’ left off, not least because of the oriental flair some of the new tracks have,” he explains. No doubt about it, all the pieces of the puzzle fit together perfectly here. ARP fans will soon be able to confirm: The world would be a poorer place without ‘Risen Symbol’, probably the strongest album release in ARP’s career to date!

Axel Rudi Pell – guitar
Johnny Gioeli – vocals
Volker Krawczak – bass
Ferdy Doernberg – keyboards
Bobby Rondinelli – drums

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