Axel Rudi Pell – Game of Sins
Banal without a cause, this album is beyond a disappointment. Just two albums after the great Circle of the Oath and the Axel Rudi Pell band are pushing the boundaries of stupidity.
The problem lies solely in the songwriting, all done by Pell himself. Most riffs are wholesale recycled from previous albums, but even more unsettling are the beyond infantile lyrics. If “Feel the flames from the muffler/They are born to be free” makes you wince, then you’ll dry heave over “I don’t want to cry/When I don’t want to die/’Till the world says goodbye.” When the most enjoyable song on your heavy metal album is a live version of “All Along the Watch Tower,” then you’re really fucking up.
Based on my listen, I think I figured out Pell’s songwriting process. Axel quickly deletes the vocal track from every song off his previous album and bam, there’s the music. Then, using the dictionary of Most Obnoxious Cliched Phrases That No Writer Should Ever Use, he goes to work. After seconds of careful planning, he’s got the chorus for his hot new ballad, “Whatever It Takes”: “selling like hot cakes/so let’s raise the stakes/for goodness sakes/whatever it takes.”
It’s a huge shame, because there’s a lot of talented musicians here and a decent enough production to back them up. Johnny Gioeli’s vocals are uniformly epic, and the bluesier Axel’s solos get the better, but if Axel really thinks he can get away with writing material this dreadful, then he can cry, die, and say goodbye, in that order.