27 September 2008

(No Prog Content) Wacken Records overview Part II

This is the second part of my Wacken Records showcase, covering additional releases not discussed in yesterday’s feature.

Forever Slave
Tales for Bad Girls: Lady Angellyca is probably a young goth boy’s (or girl’s) dream…every picture I have seen of her features the requisite high boots, striped arm warmers and socks, striped hair, and pale alabaster skin in vogue among the current generation of gothic scenesters (where are the crushed velved Edwardian jackets, Robert Smith like hair and existential ennui and angst that typified my generation, huh?). Musically…a mix of Evanescence, Lacuna Coil and maybe White Zombie. Some electronics, layered female vocals, a touch of beauty and the beast vocal work (gruff male ‘beast’ vocals, lilting female ‘beauty’ vocals) and a fairly typical glossy metal backing are the key words here.

Yes, the subject matter is a bit edge-pushing…we have songs about AIDS, same sex relationships, misogyny, virtual relationships, paederasty, and so on. Having said this, so many bands of similar ilk have covered the same general topical ground in the past that it’s hard to actually think of a song about two girls liking each other as being boundary pushing…hell, we’ve had a pair of female-sung top 40 hits in the past few years titled “I Kissed a Girl,” you know?

Lady Angellyca is a pleasant singer to listen to…she has a sweet voice, and layers of her vocals in harmony sound especially nice. But the music is just a bit too cookie cutter and generic for my tastes. This is a genre that’s been pretty well mined out over the past few years, and Forever Slave doesn’t add a lot to the already slim pickings in a pretty specific musical field.

01. Dickhead! 4:56

02. Say Good-Bye 4:02

03. GothiX Girls 3:53

04. Pulse 0:24

05. Kristin A.I.D.S. 4:53

06. Afterlife 4:54

07. Our Story 3:41

08. Mar, no te vayas 4:40

09. The Lovers 4:00

10. Larmes et Roses 4:22

11. My Girl (She loves her) 4:25
12. Gasoline 4:06

Axel Rudi Pell
Tales of the Crown: Not a Wacken Records release at all; this is coming out on SPV Records. ARP has had a long career, with 17 releases over 19 years showing him to be among the more consistent creative acts in European metal. Tales of the Crown is his 18th release, due for North American retail sales on 24 October 2008.

I love Euro-metal…especially traditional sounding stuff. When I say traditional, I mean harmony guitars, a nice balance between uptempo, balls to the wall rockers and mid-tempo power ballads (emphasis on the power more so than the ballad), and thick, punchy production that brings the guitars and vocals to the fore. Tales of the Crown does not disappoint in this respect; Axel Rudi Pell’s guitar playing is as incisive as ever, and Johnny Gioeli’s vocals have a nice rough edge to him. He’s less polished than a Mats Levin, yet he sings with enough soul in his voice to really these songs. I love his performance on the soulful “Crossfire,” which comes complete with 125% of your RDA of emotional guitar soloing. “Touching My Soul” is a sublime ballad, Gioeli’s vocals suitably pensive and pleading, with Pell’s guitar matching him emotion for emotion.

The title track is suitably epic sounding, with nice keyboard orchestration, thick layers of crunchy rhythm guitar, and lush choral vocals. The main riff is hummable and addictive sounding; the song as a whole is one of the strongest points on a very solid metal album.

Tales of the Crown is a worthy addition to Axel Rudi Pell’s extensive curriculum vitae, and a great place for the new listener to jump in and discover this criminally under-rated axe slinger.

1 Higher
2 Ain’t Gonna Win

3 Angel Eyes

4 Crossfire

5 Touching My Soul

6 Emotional Echoes

7 Riding on an Arrow

8 Tales of the Crown

9 Buried Alive

10 Northern Lights

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