Axel Rudi Pell - Mystica
Moons, castles, rainbows and oceans. Yes people, you are correct in your assumptions - the german axeman Axel Rudi Pell is back with yet another album in his characteristic style that by now is practically carved in stone, making AC/DC seem like a gang of chronic ad libbers.
After the, in my eyes and ears, disapponting Kings & Queens (2004), Axel here returns with a new and fresh effort. This is clearly a big step back to his normal standards and during some parts almost on par with his magnum opuses Oceans Of Time and The Masquerade Ball. The sound and the production in general is very similar to the just mentioned albums and the riffs and choruses are again catchy and more powerful the on the last albums.
For those of you who know your Axel Rudi Pell you already realise that the songs are not in any way different than what they have been the past 15 years. You know what you get and this time you get a good piece of the goods. After the traitional fast opener Fly To the Moon, which this time is only semi-fast, and the more rockier Rock The Nation, it is throughout the album a good mix between standard riff based tunes with a bit more emphasis on the heavy and epic this time but still with catchy hooks, and already after the third song it is clear that this album is already at that point better than the whole previous one.
Songs to mention before others are uptempo Losing The Game and the epic title track Mystica (where the lyrics are based on earlier song- and album titles and are connecting the past years ongoing theme together: "We touch the rainbow, we cross the castles of the kings and queens/Mysterious journey on the way to the gates, black moon on the horizon/Sailing on to the oceans of time (...) As the edge of the world passes by").
Johnny Gioeli is as usual outstanding behind the microphone and Axel himself seems dedicated to the task and very inspired. His guitar playing does not sound so cliche as it from time to time did on the previous couple of albums but instead there is room for some tiny new fresh touches, albeit nothing mindblowing. I happily embrace this album as yet another solid one in his discography and it shows that Axel still have it, but it lacks one or two real smashing hits songs for it to reach all the way. As it is now, that album has a very even level and no song is bad but there are no real killer moments either.