Release DetailsLABEL SPV
RELEASED ON 8/28/2006
Axel Rudi Pell
posted on 8/2006 By:
Axel Rudi Pell…for what it’s worth I’m going into this review as blind as a bat when it comes to the latest output from this legendary German thrasher/guitar extraordinaire as this is my first taste of his work. Sometimes that suits the act and their music in a favoring way that will with a bit of luck see me giving them an unbiased and fair shake as a band and giving Axel’s newest compilation of power metal songs an objective dissection. The flip side to that coin says that I may make a complete ass out of myself for not knowing diddly squat, other than what I read on his web site, about this man’s seemingly never ending ride through the depths of power metal territory.
Those of you who are familiar with previous works are well aware of what to expect whenever a new album is released by this group of gifted musicians. To those who aren’t all that familiar…well, to sum things up in the simplest way, this group plays very accessible power metal songs, at least in 2006, that are complete rehashes of all the best and worst facets that 80’s power meets hair metal brought to the masses. And if you’re not tired of that era of music and still get your rocks off from that sound, then you are sure to love every minute of Mystica, as every song would have probably been heard on radio stations all across the world on a daily basis way back then. Each song basically follows the same pattern: Intro, verse, bridge, chorus, repeat the previous three steps, build up to the lead step, damn good lead, repeat the chorus a couple more times and that’s their secret. But those of us that have lived through the last three decades of metal know better; we know that this is no secret and has been done time and time again by bands that just can’t let it go and refuse to move on to more relevant pastures.
Songs like "Fly to the Moon" with its over the top chorus vocals and "Rock the Nation" with its catchy yet simple verse and bridge riffs would have me singing along to them in a live setting and are actually really good songs. Then there are others like "Valley of Sin" and "Living a Lie" that would have me thanking the gods of metal that I don’t smoke anymore and wouldn’t have a lighter in my pocket that would have me blending in with the retro metallers that would surely be surrounding me with flame in one hand and the horn salute paying homage with the other. The rest of the songs are just cover versions, not literally, of a time long since gone with rockish metal that is well produced and well performed. But there just isn't anything on display here that is mind blowing and has me wanting more of it. One of my major knocks on this album has got to be the lyrical content. Lines like, "Life without a soul is like a flame without a spark" and "On and on we travel through the danger zone" make me cringe and have me in complete amazement that these guys didn’t know these lines have been used already probably hundreds of times. Lyrical writing is a lost art all over the metal map these days, and there are very few lyricists out there who are still creating something profoundly respectable in that department. Another complaint has got to be the uninspiring vocals. While the band's singer is very qualified and has the talent to hit all the right notes, there is just no driving force to be heard that tells me he is a front man who is willing to take control of the music as all singers should. Let’s be honest here, this is Axel’s baby and his lead playing is what is really on display here, isn’t it? And as a result the rest of the musicians are simply there to let him flaunt his excellent guitar ability by putting together basic templates of music allowing him to show off his talent. That formula won't cut it when put up against today's expectations in metal and that is seen all over the place on Mystica.
When all is said and done there’s not a doubt in my mind that there is an audience out there that still eats this shit up and will love every minute of this platter of cheesy fluff. But I just can’t take this stuff any more seriously than I can expect modern day metalheads to soak it up and enjoy what's on hand here. Most of us have come to grips that this style of music has had its day and we’ve evolved as listeners just like metal has evolved in and of itself since the golden age of the 80’s. But that’s it right there…it’s 2006 people and the 80’s have long since passed us by. Wake the hell up, burn the spandex, get rid of the fucking hairspray and get with the times. Bands like Symphony X, Iced Earth and Blind Guardian, just to name a few, are releasing an updated version of this style these days with songwriting ability that cuts this shit to shreds, and just a small taste of that would definitely have you wondering where you’ve been for the last 20 years.
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