Axel Rudi Pell
Mystica

This is a really good record ‘ for 1985. I have to admit that I struggled a little with this review because there was a time in my life when I would have hailed this as some of the best stuff I’ve ever heard. But that was a long time ago, and Mystica, while very well done, is just 20 years after itsAxel Rudi Pell has built quite the reputation as a melodic metal guitarist through the course of his 11 records, and listening to this one, you can certainly understand why. The guitar work here, both lead and rhythm, is outstanding. I’ve always been a sucker for a good sweep arpeggio lead, and there are some amazing ones here. The way Pell bends and shapes his guitar sound on the solos is incredible. Unfortunately, we then return to the outdated

Take a tune like ‘Rock the Nation,’ put it on any hair band record from the 1980s, and it wouldn’t be out of place at all. Overblown rock anthem riffing and cheesy lyrics about how great your live show is was old and boring in the 1970s. Then there’s ‘No Chance to Live,’ which follows every single step of the power ballad formula from the opening atmospheric synth notes to the slow, melodramatic leads to the big distorted power chords that punctuate the chorus. The sad thing is that songs like that take away from some of the really good moments

The title track offers up a great galloping traditional metal riff, that reminds me almost of a classic Dio tune once vocalist Johnny Gioeli begins to sing over it. ‘The Curse of the Damned’ which closes the album is one of those epic tunes that really defines this style. The neoclassical noodling of ‘Haunted Castle Serenade,’ which incorporates some Spanish sounds and medieval balladry is a nice change of pace and puts the spotlight on what’s really strong about this record

I think what really turns me off of this record more than anything else, though, are the vocals. Don’t get me wrong, Gioeli’s not a bad singer at all. In fact, there are a few pretty impressive moments for him, but listening to the album as a whole, I feel like I’ve heard these same vocal melodies over and over and over and over. There’s a way to make great melodic metal without repeating the same old things again and

Mystica is certainly a well-done record for what it is, but the songs are pretty stale. It’s a great nostalgic album for reminiscing about the good old days of melodic metal, but after a spin or two, you’ll be looking for something with a little

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Fred Phillips
August 26th, 2006

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