Axel Rudi Pell
Game of Sins


3.0
good

Review

by Sabrutin USER (37 Reviews)
January 22nd, 2016 | 15 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A worrying sign regarding the band's creativity, Game of Sins tries to hide behind a curtain of accessible structures.

A new album by Axel Rudi Pell's homonymous band is really not a surprise, considering only full length releases the act have now spawned the seventeenth since its debut in 1989. An album by Axel Rudi Pell is not a surprise, in general. Especially since American singer Johnny Gioeli took the place of Jeff Scott Soto on the German guitarist's ship for 1998's Oceans of Time, the formula have been the same one: mostly riff driven heavy metal accompanied by soaring vocals, without the disdain for some healthy self indulgence and elongated compositions. Give or take the inclination towards hard rock here and power metal there, the formula never broke. Pell never cared about breaking boundaries, and he surely hasn't started now.

A few things will strike the listener right off the bat. Production has deteriorated again; it's very loud and the brick walling can get very unpleasant to the ears. Besides, Pell is now in complete auto pilot mode. Fans have been living with that for a long while, but now it's more evident than ever. Everything is clear when the intro "Lenta Fortuna" is followed by "Fire", the classic Axel Rudi Pell opener. The clamant riff of "Fire" comes in with its annoyingly familiar beauty paving the way for an equally familiar chorus, and highlighting the abrupt shift from the intro's clear sound to the song's rowdy one. All of the loudness unfolds while the bass rumbles in the depths alongside the occasional keyboard layer, leaving the overall sound with a feeling of suffocation.

Songwriting-wise Game of Sins is the band's most derivative album yet. Its forms don't only remind of previous works, there are cases where a song reminds of a previous one in the album too. The most apparent case being the couple "Game of Sins"-"Till the World Says Goodbye", featuring strikingly similar riffing and mood. This however doesn't completely ruin the two powerful tracks, but it's a shame to see the Blackmore alumnus missing the target with the lengthy affairs that he loves so much, especially considering that his soloing is much more restrained and characterless than before. Feelings coming full circle when listening to the closing "Forever Free" which, in its 8 and a half minutes, lacks real twists. Actually, the album is so straightforward that it's hard to believe it lasts for almost a hour! The most unique track is possibly the digipak bonus cover of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower".

After all the beating, credit has to be given where it's due. As safe as the album is, the pace is consistently kept. Even if musicians like Pell or drummer Bobby Rondinelli -who replaced Mike Terrana since the last album- sound wasted for the material, one can't help but fall for some hooks. The band described the album as devoid of filler and, in a sense, it's true. Every song delivers gritty instrumentation and endearing vocal melodies, without the exception of the two ballads which are the album's lows but still charming enough. Heavy metal aficionados should enjoy riff powerhouses like "Sons in the Night" (based on TV series Sons of Anarchy), infectious chorus driven songs like "Falling Star" or slower, burning rides like the title track in due time. Johnny Gioeli's impressive voice sounds at times too overproduced, but his integrity after 17 years of career with the band is at least commendable.

Game of Sins is not the album that will reunite the divided fanbase of the band. The engaging epic tracks working as its banner are nowhere to be found in the 2016's release. An album that lacks dynamic in sound and writing, farther demonstrated by the little importance given to the keyboardist. It's an absolutely enjoyable metal album, but it hardly sounds as something coming from a band operating under the name of a guitarist. Axel Rudi Pell should make sure to craft something different (in the band's metric) next time, because Game of Sins will better be remembered as 'that time ARP took a barebones approach' rather than 'that time we knew the band was stylistically done for'.



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user ratings (11)
3.1
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
Sabrutin
January 22nd 2016


6649 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Stream on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/0ZpkPGVF17Qc7LvsftW281

"Game of Sins": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpnmLRKktU4

"Falling Star": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vs5Y1U4io5o



Criticism is welcome. Bottom stock ARP, definitely for die-hard fans. Anyway the band will come here for the first time in ten years so I can't really stay mad at the album. Probs no one cares about this band/album but whatever.

I haven't forgotten my Riot discography reviews.

Digging: Pat Metheny - From This Place

manosg
Staff Reviewer
January 22nd 2016


11830 Comments


Great stuff Sab, pos.

Only heard his previous album which didn't enjoy a great deal. Which other do you recommend checking?

Digging: Biff Byford - School Of Hard Knocks

Sabrutin
January 22nd 2016


6649 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Big thanks, I should probably work on making these reviews a bit shorter.



If you didn't mind the vocals in Into the Storm I definitely suggest to check out Oceans of Time. If you were turned off by the vocals you could check out Magic, I consider it the best album with Jeff Scott Soto.



Oceans of Time is my favorite one though. Check out Gioeli's pipes: https://youtu.be/rdFkScWID0w?t=4m50s

manosg
Staff Reviewer
January 22nd 2016


11830 Comments


Niiice. Oceans of Time it is then!

Sabrutin
January 22nd 2016


6649 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Sweet, hope you dig! I love "Carousel" so much.

EvoHavok
January 23rd 2016


7711 Comments


"Carousel" is really good, but never got around the whole album. I know Tales of the Crown, which was great.

Sabrutin
January 23rd 2016


6649 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yeah some sweet bangers in that one, shame there isn't a thread where I can type A DREAM OR REALITY? I WISH I COULD STAY ALIVE! (Buried Alive) and stuff. Definitely check Oceans of Time if you can dig the late stuff like Tales of the Crown. The streak Magica - Oceans of Time - The Masquerade Ball is their peak for me.

EvoHavok
January 23rd 2016


7711 Comments


Nice, I will give Oceans a try.

eaglefan1998
January 23rd 2016


152 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Still cool, still sounds pretty much the same

manosg
Staff Reviewer
January 24th 2016


11830 Comments


Really enjoying Oceans Of Time right now, nice heads up.

Sabrutin
January 24th 2016


6649 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

m/

Rikkukun
January 28th 2016


176 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Gonna jam this soon

Sabrutin
March 25th 2018


6649 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

New album feels a bit better on first listens

EvoHavok
March 25th 2018


7711 Comments


I like the cover for the new one.

Sabrutin
March 25th 2018


6649 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Indeed, great artwork. I definitely like the album a notch more than this one. More audible bass and keyboard presence, stronger hooks and much more memorable solos. Still probably a 3 for me though because there are always those one-two songs that don't say much. That said some songs will definitely go into my ARP playlist, and man I swear Gioeli's voice just doesn't want to age



EDIT: growin'!



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