Review | Axel Rudi Pell – Risen Symbol

Steamhammer / SPV

Can any heavy rock band or artist claim that they have been working together with one and the same record company for way over three decades? Axel Rudi Pell can. The man from Bochum, Germany started his solo-career in 1989 with the album ‘Wild Obsession’ and has since that year released a total of 22 studio-albums (including this new release ‘Risen Symbol’), 8 compilation and ballads albums, five live releases and five DVD’s. All releases in tight cooperation with Steamhammer/SPV.


What does this impressive amount of releases say about Axel Rudi Pell? For me it says that he is a man that you can rely on. You can rely on him for being consistent. You can rely om him for planning things carefully and to the point. And you can rely on him to bring a certain amount of quality to the table that is second to none. But this also brings a certain amount of criticism as well. The biggest one being that his music and style of playing is predictable and that in a way he is just repeating the same old formula over and over again. But if that would be the case, surely his sales figures and concert attendance would become less and less by every release, finally resulting in a split with his record company.

Rock and roll is first and foremost a business where results count. Do you really think that a label would hold on to an artist for all this time just because he is a nice and sympathetic guy? Or could it be that his sales figures are steady enough to keep the faith is his musical capacities? Draw your own conclusion.


‘Risen Symbol’ is (at first glance) a typical Pell album. For the last ten years his band members are steady with drummer Bobby Rondinelli, keyboardist Ferdy Doernberg, bass player Volker Krawczak and singer extra-ordinaire Johnny Gioeli. So yes, ‘Risen Symbol’ is for Pell something like business as usual. His style is set, the band sounds recognisable and the set up of the album does not bring too many surprises. The intro ,,The Resurrection’’ is followed by the speedy hard rocker ,,Forever Strong’’ and the more mid-tempo banger ,,Guardian Angel’’. Very predictable I hear his critics say.

But what do they think about Axel’s interpretation of the Led Zeppelin classic ,,Immigrant Song’’? That is a whole different kettle of fish. The arrangements and sound are quite surprising if you ask me and after a few turns quite catchy and even original! Not really ‘business as usual’ on this one, people! Especially the guitar solo is quite exquisite. Maybe Steamhammer should send a copy of the album to Jimmy Page and Robert Plant….


‘Risen Symbol’ has a few more surprises for the dedicated Pell fans. ,,Hell’s On Fire’’ and ,,Darkest Hour’’ sound like two typical straight forward metal rockers (yet nice and heavy) but the track ,,Ankhaia’’ (with its 10 minutes length) and the haunting ballad ,,Crying In Pain’’ are absolute top tracks. ,,Ankhaia’’ is a well-structured epic rock song where Pell and band integrate different musical influences while Gioeli steals the show with an emotional vocal performance to lift ,,Crying In Pain’’ up to be the top notch song of ‘Risen Symbol’, at least in my humble opinion.


For me it is a simple one. ‘Risen Symbol’ has all ingredients, sounds and songs that, based on his previous work, can be expected of Axel Rudi Pell. But still, there is certainly no way that critics can or should say that he is just repeating himself. This band has a signature sound and style but is without a doubt trying to find different elements and influences, making sure that a certain amount of progress is being made on every new release. On ‘Risen Symbol’ they managed to do that, with ,,Immigrant Song’’, ,,Ankhaia’’ and also the epic closer ,,Taken By Storm’’ as prime examples. Looking forward already to studio release number 23!

Release date: 14 June 2024



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