AXEL RUDI PELL – Sign Of The Times

AXEL RUDI PELL - Sign Of The Times
  • 8/10
    AXEL RUDI PELL - Sign Of The Times - 8/10


Steamhammer / SPV Records
Release date: May 8, 2020

User Review
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Axel Rudi Pell has sold over 1.7 million albums across the globe in his 30+ year career. His 2018 release Knights Call was streamed over 2.6 million times. For his 18th studio album Sign of the Times Pell decided to mix things up a bit by parting ways with longtime producer Charlie Bauerfiend. Instead, Tommy Geiger who engineered Pell’s last two live albums is at the helm. In addition, Pell chose more realistic songwriting themes, rather than the mystical elements he is known for.

“Gunfire” leads off with pulsing Hammond organ tones and rapid-fire double kick drums. This track is the first of a few socially conscious messages from Pell and company, but it still maintains one hell of a catchy chorus. Axel’s quick to slow and back again guitar runs are a little indulgent, but that’s expected. The heavy power chords of “Bad Reputation” are reminiscent of past ARP songs “Prisoner of Love” and “Rock the Nation.” It’s almost as if the two tracks became one. Johnny Gioeli is as strong as ever with his vocals. And who doesn’t love a good fist pumping drum & guitar riff breakdown?

The album’s title track “Sign of the Times” has an epic movie-like quality to it. Here Pell reflects on what could become of our planet if we continue to neglect the environment. It wouldn’t be an Axel Rudi Pell album if there wasn’t at least one ballad. In fact, ARP puts out compilations of his best ones periodically. “As Blind as a Fool Can Be” is just as powerful and heartfelt as any Pell ballad. It begins with a clean guitar and piano arrangement. The song builds with soft organs and a prominent drum beat. Pell patterns his solos off the vocal melody.

“Waiting For Your Call” one-ups “Blind” in the ballad department by pumping up the energy, groove and emotion. Axel describes “Wings of the Storm” as “a modern day homage to the Coverdale/Hughes-led line up of Deep Purple, but delivered in Jimi Hendrix style.” While the track does have a “Stormbringer” vibe to it, it’s hard to hear the Hendrix influence. The guitar work is vintage Pell and the vocals are vintage Gioeli. When “Living In A Dream” kicks in, you may think your music player skipped to another artist. Yes, that Johnny Gioeli singing Reggae style. It’s just a tease though, as the song changes into a rather dark rocker about today’s society.

Sign of the Times is a little different than past Axel Rudi Pell efforts. ARP and company take some musical chances by eliminating the Dungeons and Dragons themes, focusing on relatable lyrics, and experimenting with different musical styles. The band still delivers what you expect from an Axel Rudi Pell affair while still keeping things fresh after 31 years.



  1. The Black Serenade
  2. Gunfire
  3. Bad Reputation
  4. Sign of the Times
  5. The End of the Line
  6. As Blind As a Fool Can Be
  7. Wings of the Storm
  8. Waiting For Your Call
  9. Living in a Dream
  10. Into the Fire


  • George Dionne

    George was a contributor here at Metal Express Radio, reviewing albums and conducting interviews, out of Massachusetts, USA. George has contributed to numerous music related websites and blogs, and even managed his own from 2004-2009. George's first assignment was covering a live show by the mighty GWAR. By contrast his later assignments featured Judas Priest, Van Halen, and Bon Jovi. George was also the front man for the South Eastern Massachusetts cover band Sound Tower from 2009-2015.  Sound Tower played 300+ shows across MA and had two original songs on the Cape Cod radio station PIXY 103. George enjoys a good whiskey, scotch, and/or bourbon and fights crime in his spare time.

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