Tag Archives: mike terrana

“Act. I” by Tarja

Artist: Tarja
Title: “Act I”
Label: Armoury Records
Release Date: 9/4/2012
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Rating: 4.25/5

You loved her voice in Nightwish for so many years and cried true tears at her departure from the group but despite the sadness, there would be no sitting idle for the amazing vocal talent that is Tarja Turunen as she would press on with original material and release two albums since with “My Winter Storm” and “What Lies Beneath”. I remember in the past how we always had to wait a long time for live albums to come out but now these are faster and more furious and with this being the case I offer up “Act 1”, Tarja’s first-ever solo live recording and a release that brings you listeners at home to the front row and center of concert and what a concert it is. Recorded over the course of two shows at the Teatro El CìrculoIt in Rosario, Argentina. Delivered on audio CD, DVD and Blu-ray video; my review is of the audio companion to the video being released simultaneously but is not included in the same package which is a shame for this particular issue in my opinion.
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“The Crest” by Axel Rudi Pell

Artist: Axel Rudi Pell
Title: “The Crest”
Label: SPV Records
Release Date: 6/1/2010
Genre: Melodic Power Metal
Rating: 4/5

The Metal music geography is a strange one nowadays and while sometimes we find classic bands delivering an old school release that calls upon their past, there are others who take the chance and experiment just a little too much for their ardent admirers. With this in mind there is nothing quite like a band who opts to keep on delivering the sound that makes them successful an this is what we find when we start blasting the latest album from guitarist Axel Rudi Pell. For over twenty years, the German guitarist has been dishing out some very accessible Melodic Power Metal and its nice to see that he is still able to do so without the output sounding tired or repetitive. A dramatic intro leads us into the albums first official track “Too Late” and we quickly get this party started with the powerful register of his American singer Johnny Gioeli. It’s a fast paced tune and one that serves well as the opener and might even be a good choice for the band in the live sense. I liked “Devil Zone” based on the overall way that the tune flowed along with its chorus. Clearly Pell was intent on keeping his audience happy with his new material. Believe it or not many of the initial ideas insofar as the music against the vocals, were done via the Skype program. That’s kind of an Internet telephone software if you are unaware of it or what it does. That’s pretty cool to see how the current technology can help compose what becomes an album. Skipping around a little bit we find the slow and trudging track “Dreaming Dead” and of course the almost pre-requisite ballad which we know Pell is rather fond of. This albums version comes via “Glory Night” ands its not a bad song for a number of this type. I guess we can assume it will make the musicians fourth collection of ballads when its release time comes. One of the tracks that will likely impress fans the most is the epic eight minute “Dark Waves Of The Sea”. It’s a continuation of his “Oceans Of Time” premise and it’s a solid track without question. The album slows down again for a piano versus electric guitar interlude via “Noblisse Oblige” and it comes off as rather pleasant in its apparent simplicity. The album closes out with another cruncher in “The End Of Our Time” and I had to say that while I felt that the track was solid that I would have loved to find them pulling out the stops for the finale. Just a little more flash would have been nice in my humble opinion.
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“Best Of – Anniversary Edition” by Axel Rudi Pell

Artist: Axel Rudi Pell
Title: “Best Of”
Label: SPV Records
Release Date: 6/16/2009
Genre: Hard Melodic Rock
Rating: 3/5

In terms of physical musical output over the last few years, it seems as though German guitarist Axel Rudi Pell has been quite prolific because not only is he releasing new music for his fans but also cover albums, ballad albums and live releases…..whew, that’s quite a bit to envision especially when you realize that a total of eleven albums have come out since 1998’s “Oceans Of Time”. You might wonder why I locked into this particular release especially since eight albums preceded it and the rationale is very simple. “Oceans Of Time” is the first to find vocalist Johnny Gioeli signing onto the project and the twelve selections on “Best Of – Anniversary Edition” celebrate his work with the guitarist and his band. I have to admit I was never much more than the casual fan of what I heard ARP doing but beyond that the stuff that I heard I also seemed to enjoy. It’s safe to say if Melodic Hard Rock is your thing and you enjoy a talented guitarist and tasty melodies then this is the band for you because it’s highly satisfying at the end of the day. I’ve read other reviews that felt the release cheats itself a little bit and would have been better served up as a comprehensive anthology piece and that much I agree with. Especially when you have almost twenty albums to cover but you do what you can and this recording does give the listener a healthy enough example of the Gioeli years that might spark their own investigations into the back catalog. Never a bad thing in my opinion. One of my first favorite’s re-presentations is the acoustic version of “Forever Angel” since it sounds so powerful when done in this fashion and of course “Strong As A Rock” and “Edge Of The World” since they are bare bones rockers from beginning to end. Even though Pell had delivered some cover material that got his own style blended into it, I was a little surprised to find two of these numbers included here. He gives us the U2 blockbuster “Beautiful Day” which is nice but probably not for the hard core U2 enthusiast. I think the only person who wonders how that bands tunes would sound in the Hard Rock or Metal sense would be someone who is bored with the creators own version but not one of their tried and true fans. I liked it but I had to admit that I heard a lot of terrible cover bands doing it so this became a welcome version in my book. The second cover is Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight” and this brooding classic track was a radio standard and one that I feel gets lost in its Metal translation. It’s more of a pure cover and sounds too much like its original to make much sense in having and the extra drumming fills by Terrana seem out of place. This is historically one of the world’s most popular air drum songs and if you don’t believe me just wait until that “moment” in the song comes to see if it doesn’t find you slamming down some air percussion.
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“Live Over Europe” by Axel Rudi Pell

Artist: Axel Rudi Pell
Title: “Live Over Europe”
Label: SPV Records
Release Date: 4/8/2008
Genre: Hard Rock/Heavy Metal
Rating: 3.5/5

Filmed at the “Rock Hard Festival” in Gelsenkirchen, Germany on 5/27/2007, “Live Over Europe” presents the Neo-Classical Hard Rock guitarist Axel Rudi Pell and his band performing a solid set of their classics as well as a healthy dose of tunes from their latest studio album of the time “Mystica”. Having only casually followed the melodic guitar wizard over the years I had to say that I enjoyed the chance to see him in the live sense because he rarely gets to my part of the world, and with the quality camera angles and shooting done for this piece its very easy for the armchair fan to feel as though they were a part of the show. Pell is one of those guitarists who came into prominence first with the band Steeler, and while he has worked with singers from another prolific axeman Yngwie Malmsteen, his own style did not focus on additional flash but rather remained at the Heavy Melodic stage. It worked out well as you can see in this video, for the player is quite talented, and knows how to give you a good show during a concert. Given the album being supported was “Mystica”, the band rumbles through three tracks from it such as “Fly To The Moon”, “Strong As A Rock” and the title track “Mystica” itself. “FTTM” was fun as an opener for me and I got a kick out of singer Johnny Gioeli hitting the stage saying “what’s up” and “what’s going on” to the German crowd. I had to laugh since it seemed like such a New York thing to do and of course with Gioeli being a Brooklyn, NY native it made sense.

On drums Pell has the inimitable Mike Terrana, who unfortunately in the material presented is rather straight forward in his playing with the exception of his visually psychotic drum solo. Terrana is one of the best in the business and seems the master of complex twirls while playing some truly technical patterns. It’s dizzying at times to watch him do this but really, really interesting when it comes down to it. Rounding out the band is Ferdy Doernberg on keyboards and Volker Krawczak on bass. While there are only ten songs in the bands set the upside is that this is their complete performance from the festival and that is sure to please the guitarists hard core fans as well as raise the interest level on those other casual fans who might get the chance to see it. Those who enjoy what he is doing will also appreciate how he rarely stops working and continues to deliver album after album of his well honed style of Metal to the public. His most recent offering is a collection of covers and it bears looking into. The main concert is the core content of the first DVD and there is no other footage to enjoy on this but there is a second disc included as well that features bootleg footage.

DVD2: Tear Down The Walls, Strong As A Rock, Fool Fool, The Masquerade Ball/Casbah, Carousel (including Keyboard Solo), The Temple Of The King, Call Her Princess, Rock The Nation, Strong As A Rock, Love Gun, Oceans Of Time, Fly To The Moon, Mystica, Haunted Castle Serenade, Rock The Nation, Call Her Princess.

*** The second DVD in this set is considered their “official bootleg” DVD and it features shows performed since 2004. It’s not your conventional audience member bootleg but instead from the personal archives of Pell himself who had been collecting the footage from his shows after a member of his team shot it. The sound for the most part is clear and not as muddled as we find on some bootleg footage but as far as visuals go the viewer should understand that this is primarily from the stage shooting or direct full stage views with some close ups. As you might expect some of the footage will be better than others but for the most part this is all rather good. I’m not as much a fan of this kind of inclusion as I used to be but had to admit that this was higher in the level of quality than some other bands had offered when it came to delivering the same sort of content. Let’s face it, not everyone had the proper tools in their favor to do so over the years and as result those who enjoy Axel Rudi Pell are surely in for a few hours of musical treats with this one. Shows presented in some fashion are Wacken Open Air, Bloodstock and Zeche Bochum along with a few others.

A worthy concert and bootleg DVD film for your collection of such releases.

Track Listing: DVD1
1. Fly To The Moon
2. Strong As A Rock
3. The Masquerade Ball/Casbah
4. Drum Solo
5. Tear Down The Walls
6. Mystica
7. Rock The Nation
8. The Temple Of The King
9. Fool, Fool
10. Call Her Princess

Official Website: www.axelrudipell.de

“MKII” by Masterplan

Artist: Masterplan
Title: “MKII”
Label: Candlelight Records
Release Date: 3/20/2007
Genre: Power Metal
Rating: 4/5

Oddly enough I had never listened to the Melodic Power Metal band Masterplan before this album even though I was well aware of the group that Roland Grapow and Uli Kusch had founded back in 2002 after being fired from the legendary Helloween. More resultant of it being a matter of time to absorb every band out there against any form of slight I was well aware of how popular they had become and meant to sink my teeth into them one way or another. Sadly by the time I got to it drummer Kusch had moved on and formed Beautiful Sin while singer Jorn Lande had departed citing musical “differences”, the all too common phrase we hear from bands around the world from time to time. My own exploration into their Power Metal glory would begin with two new members and ones I have enjoyed listening to in the past with other groups. The first was singer Mike DeMeo who many remember from his work with Riot but who also was commendable as a Bluesy-Hard Rocker with The Lizards (a band that featured Bobby Rondinelli) and madman behind the kit – Mr. Mike Terrana. Terrana has done his percussive damage in bands like Yngwie and Rage and can also be heard on over a dozen more notable artists as well. The question would be could the pair fit in and offer up a seamless transition for the band’s fan base and I am happy to report this as a yes. With no offense to Lande, I thought that DeMeo was a perfect fit for the group and with his joining forces we can all now enjoy new melodic Metal adventures as they are forged.
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