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Music Reviews: Axel Rudi Pell, Tommy Bolin, Rhapsody of Fire, UFO, and a Whole Mess of Videos

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Well summer is over and autumn is here; so record companies recover from their substance filled breaks and return to their task at hand. To make things even better, one of my favorite  PR firms for UK rock, SPV, is back sending out material. Also, there is a new Maiden album out, one of their best ever (reviewed next time). Things are looking up on the music front!

CD Reviews

Axel Rudi Pell: Mystica

ARP is back with another stellar album featuring Hardline’s Johnny Gioelli on vocals and from the sound of a few of the tracks influencing the songwriting as well. There are several that would have fit nicely into the last Hardline album: the uber-power ballad
"No Chance to Live" being one of several.

Unlike many of his other fellow guitar-wizards ARP does not bore us to tears, well those of us who are not anal guitarists, with endless wank sessions. This 10 track affair is high on quality and low on duff tracks. The band is fairly dependable, it has to be said, when it comes to output. This is yet another addition to his fine collection of albums. I rather enjoyed the anthemic "Rock the Nation" and the title track.

Tommy Bolin: Whips & Roses II

Yet another odd and sods collection from demised guitar virtuoso Tommy Bolin. As with many such releases this is very much for the completist and not for the general listeners. The songs tell the story of a great and influential musician but I would recommend
Teaser albums or his contributions to Deep Purple rather than this. It's okay for an occasional listen maybe, but not really a regular choice. There are three bonus tracks here to keep hard-core fans happy. The album has some top people on it including Jeff Pocaro, Phil Collins, David Sanborn, and Prairie Prince.

Rhapsody of Fire: Triumph of Agony

Luka Turulli and the lads return with a new album and bizarrely a new name. It has something to do with trademark issues. Alas they picked something that sounds even lamer than their original name. The music, which is what matters, has changed a bit as well. It's far less over the top "Hollywood Metal" and now has more in common with Blackmore’s Night (Don’t believe me?  Listen to "Old Age of Wonders.") or Nightwish
than some of their daft Queen-like releases of the past. Christopher Lee returns as a narrator in the Cthulhu-esque tale of "Dar-Kunor" with his daughter involved as well as Susannah York.

While some people will mock this release as more “fantasy metal” there is something here that makes it far better than the band’s past releases. There is still an epic feel to the CD but it just never gets too much.

UFO: Monkey Puzzle

This is a cracking return to form from UFO, now featuring Vinnie Moore on guitar. This is a damn good album with nothing one could term fluff. The band comes across as a unit rather than individual personalities showing off as has happened in the past on UFO releases. This album just puts a smile on my face every listen. "Some other Guy" is pure Stones, at their best, goodness replete with some great mouth organ. And there is the great power ballad "Drink too Much" which should be a huge freaking hit. Just trust me on this one. Don’t let this cracking hard rock album pass you by.

DVD Reviews

Rock S’cool: Various

This DVD has thirty one video clips, 1000 sound snippets, and iPod video of each track. It's pretty impressive and there is also an interesting CD Rom section. Clips vary in age and style from the new one from Helloween, the nothing special "Mrs God" (the other real dog is Judas Priest’s dire "Burn in Hell") to male/female duet metal in the form of Kamelot, and Tristania through Tommy Lee’s halfway decent track "Good Times" and a tune from Skinny Puppy.

You also get several from Motorhead including the awesome "Whorehouse Blues," and the apt (for today is 11 Sept) track from Iced Earth "The Reckoning." This is a great DVD to shove on if you are having a party with a bunch of heavy rockers in attendance. There is something for everyone. It is an impressive package for damn sure and a good value as well.

Well that is your lot for this column and a fine bunch it is in the end. So stay safe and stay rocking. One tip: yes the new Iron Maiden is really that good.

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