F U L L . R E V I E W S


Axel Rudi Pell
Diamonds Unlocked
Type: CD
Company: SPV/Steamhammer
Release: 2007
Genre: Hard Rock
Reviewer: Vinaya Saksena
Published: 12/5/2008
Sonic and emotional blandness

Axel Rudi Pell
Diamonds Unlocked

Company: SPV
Release: 2007
Genre: Covers
Rating: 1.5
Reviewer: Vinaya

  • Sonic and emotional blandness



  • I want to like Axel Rudi Pell's work-really, I do. As a major fan of guitar players such as Yngwie Malmsteen and Jonas Hansson, I would, it seem, be a natural fan for this post-Blackmore picker from Germany. So far, however, I have yet to be won over, and Diamonds Unlocked has done nothing to change that.

    Maybe it was partly because of the fact that my first chance to review one of Pell's albums came with the compilation album The Ballads III (do I even need to explain what's wrong with an album of that seemingly unfeasible name?). Mind you, I have absolutely nothing against music of a mellow nature, and do not harbor distaste for any of Pell's work (or anyone else's for that matter) simply because it is sometimes mellow. The problem, as I see it, is one that seems to afflict both his heavier material and his mellower material: a kind of sonic and emotional blandness.

    Case in point, Diamonds Unlocked is a competent, polished, well-executed but almost completely unremarkable album of cover tunes (plus decent but fairly repetitive instrumental original as intro). The song choices are mildly interesting, including such moderately surprising cuts such as U2's "Beautiful Day" and The Mission's "Like a Child Again."

    What's remarkable, however, is that to my ears at least the most impressive cuts on here are the most purely pop-oriented ones, with Axel and his band, particularly vocalist Johnny Gioeli, sounding most at home on Chris Rea's "Stone" and Michael Bolton's upbeat pop-rocker "Fools Game." At the other end of the spectrum, Axel's version of the Montrose classic "Rock the Nation" finds him making a noble but failed attempt to spice up the song with a mellowed-out solo section, and Riot's early blueprint for power metal "Warrior" finds the band sounding, frankly, less intense than the original, but still more intense than they seem comfortable with. "Beautiful Day," unfortunately, shows the limitations of Gioeli's voice with painful clarity, as he struggles to come up with original phrasing and tone that compliments the song, while grossly overdoing it on the rasp. And don't even get me started on the closing version of "Won't Get Fooled Again," an utterly overrated tune further marred by inadequate performances all around.

    Don't get me wrong--Pell is an accomplished guitarist, and I have heard others praise Gioeli's voice in the past and not without merit, I'd say. However, I have been consistently disappointed in what both men have chosen to do with their talents in recent years. Maybe my tastes are just different from theirs, but I constantly sense that the duo is playing it overly safe. One moderately interesting move, however, has been made here: an acoustic version of KISS' "Love Gun," complete with bongos! Can ya beat that? Nothing else here does.


    About this Writer:
    Vinaya Saksena // Vinaya is either a writer who dabbles in guitar playing, or a guitar player who dabbles in writing. A Maximum Metal staffer since 2004, he has also served as a reporter for several newspapers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Although his obsession with music is such that it does not allow time for much else by way of hobbies, he also enjoys traveling, trivia, photography, British comedy and the occasional A-Team re-run.

    Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
    5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
    4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
    3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
    3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
    2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
    1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
    0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

    Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

    Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

    The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



    ALL FULL REVIEWS FOR: AXEL RUDI PELL
    CD
    TITLE BAND
    DOR
    REVIEWER DATE
    Circle Of The OathAxel Rudi Pell
    2012
    Eric Compton4/10/2013
    Diamonds UnlockedAxel Rudi Pell
    2007
    Vinaya Saksena12/5/2008
    Game of SinsAxel Rudi Pell
    2016
    Eric Compton2/4/2016
    The Ballads IIIAxel Rudi Pell
    2004
    Vinaya Saksena5/15/2005
    The CrestAxel Rudi Pell
    2010
    Eric Compton6/25/2010


    ALL SUMMARY REVIEWS FOR: AXEL RUDI PELL

    No Summary reviews currently exist for them.


    ALL INTERVIEWS FOR: AXEL RUDI PELL
    INTERVIEW BAND INTERVIEWER DATE


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