The Masquerade Ball Review

artist: Axel Rudi Pell date: 03/04/2015 category: compact discs
Axel Rudi Pell: The Masquerade Ball
Released: Apr 10, 2000
Genre: Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Power Metal
Label: Steamhammer/SPV
Number Of Tracks: 10
Despite the criticism of the lyrics, the album is still one of Axel's strongest overall. The fact that the lineup here was the longest tenured does not go unnoticed.
 Sound: 10
 Lyrics: 7
 Overall Impression: 9
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overall: 8.7
The Masquerade Ball Reviewed by: AllJudasPriest, on march 04, 2015
3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Sound: On Axel Rudi Pell's fourth album, "Between the Walls," chief songwriter, the bands namesake guitarist, must have decided it was the best album he had ever made. The reason for this unsupported declaration is that every album since that has, structurally, been the same. The formula has progressed in quality over the next two albums with Jeff Soto at the microphone, but the zenith was recognized with the previous album - the first to feature Johnny Gioelli on the mic - "Oceans of Time."

Beginning here, the formula begins the initial decline, though hardly in performance, everyone here plays amicably while there is a much greater balance and consistency not found on prior albums. Where the decline happens is the continual inability to make all tracks of equal quality. When the moments are off, they start to ruin the experience of listening to the album in full, as one would believe is the way the band intended.

There are only three rockers on this album, continuing what was demonstrated on the previous album, showcasing a slower but darker edge. Where "Oceans of Time" was dreamy and filled with rich atmospheric keys to provide an ethereal backdrop, truly sailing on the glissful notes, here it is the brooding darkness that reigns. // 10

Lyrics: If there is one drawback to the band, it is their overall bland lyrical writing. It very seldom deviates from the topics of mythology, magic and wizardry. The only deviations there are usually are about sex or are odes to music. While there are some clever metaphors scattered throughout, such as "Voodoo Nights" and "Night and Rain," the lyrics are repetitive and insignificant.

It is a shame about the lyrics since they limit the amazing voice of Johnny Gioeli. What he is permitted to sing, he really gives life and charisma to, but cannot stop and think what type of lyrics he would contribute if were permitted. // 7

Overall Impression: The choice cuts on the album are "Voodoo Nights," "Night and Rain," "The Line," "The Temple of the Holy." Each are powerful, unique and full of dark melodies that really capture the depressive spirit of the album.

"July Morning" is a cover of Uriah Heep's epic, which stays far too close to the original. The production and performances all ace the 1971 version, but it fails to build on these technological advances, making it a by the numbers copy.

Despite the criticism of the lyrics, the album is still one of Axel's strongest overall. The fact that the lineup here was the longest tenured does not go unnoticed. The continuity is on full display throughout and it is hard to find a negative point towards any performance. It is highly recommended to at least be heard, to be appreciated. // 9

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