I can’t help but thinking that I might be getting a bit tired of Axel Rudi Pell at this point. Having listened to all of their records (at least, I believe that I’ve done so – there are just so many of them) I find that I am not noticing much from the band that I haven’t already heard before at this stage of their career. Certainly, nothing that has been performed here is terrible and it all feels cohesive within it’s mixture of thunderous anthems and emotional ballads, rife with keyboards and massive guitar solos; but in the end, I feel that I’m just getting the same sort of recording that the band offered just a few years ago with Game Of Sins. Now when I’d first heard Game Of Sins, I hadn’t heard much of their work prior to it and have since gone into that realm of discovery. As I mentioned, I am a huge fan of Johnny Gioeli, especially his work as the frontman for Sonic Team influenced act, Crush 40. Axel Rudi Pell is obviously his more serious heavy metal work, which he has been performing for over a decade now. So naturally, I was very interested in hearing something that didn’t have Sonic The Hedgehog in the foreground of it. The problem was that most of the albums that Axel Rudi Pell were doing around the nineties had slipped into something that feels more like eccentric hard rock with ballads so notable that the band ended up having to release separate CD collections just to compile them all. Many of the power metal elements and complexities of the earlier records have been stripped down into a much easier to digest, but rather bland formula that only manages to entertain with a few bells and whistles here and there. But it’s great if you just want to jam out and aren’t concerned about the compositional equivalent of the material.
That being said, the act has always been a showcase for Axel Rudi Pell’s guitar work, which is definitely solid and just as potent as it has ever been, though again; I feel like I might just be getting more of the same with this one. To fans, that won’t be such a bad thing as the band aren’t going into some sort of over-technical or djent laden sound in order to appeal to the masses.
They’re still performing the same sound that they’ve had for what feels like a generation and I suppose I can properly commend them for that. Anthems like “Long Live Rock” and “Follow The Sun” fit right in with hits from their already enormous catalogue, as well as more epic numbers like “Crusaders Of Doom” and the electrifying finale “Tower Of Babylon” which might be one of the strongest tracks that they’ve recorded since the days of Black Moon Pyramid and Magic. Knights Call serves up exactly what fans want, but it doesn’t necessarily give them anything that they don’t already have on their shelves.