Album Review – Blind Guardian / The God Machine (2022)

Seven years after the release of Beyond The Red Mirror, the most respect German Power Metal bards of all time make a brilliant return with their breathtaking twelfth studio album.

Seven years after the release of Beyond The Red Mirror, the multi-talented German Power Metal bards Blind Guardian make a brilliant return and compensate for the waiting time with their new studio album, entitled The God Machine, the twelfth in their undisputed career. Produced, recorded and engineered by Charlie Bauerfeind and Thomas Geiger, mixed by Joost van den Broek and Jos Driessen, mastered by Jaakko Viitalähde, and displaying a classy artwork by Peter Mohrbacher, The God Machine brings everything we learned to love and more in the music by frontman Hansi Kürsch and his henchmen André Olbrich and Marcus Siepen on the guitars, Frederik Ehmke on drums, and session musicians Barend Courbois on bass and Thomas Geiger on keyboards, with each song having its lyrics based on a specific novel, play, series or milestone in their personal lives, such as The Kingkiller Chronicle, Battlestar Galactica and American Gods. “We didn’t want to rehash our style from 1995, but on the other hand we didn’t want to have to continue on our current path forever. The God Machine is a new beginning for us. We’re putting everything back to square one and return to certain patterns that we neglected a bit on previous releases. Look forward to an album that is straighter, more aggressive, but always blessed with highly infectious melodies and hooks,” commented Hansi about the band’s new opus.

The rhythmic riffs by André and Marcus set the stage for the epic Deliver Us From Evil, with Hansi distilling his trademark, powerful vocals from the very first second in a pure Blind Guardian sound with no shenanigans, or in other words, this will be a fantastic opener for their upcoming concerts. In Damnation we’re treated to cryptic words darkly declaimed by Hansi (“They’re like ghosts / The ancient ones / Burning blue’s their sign / It’s all true / Hush don’t cry / Better hide”) while his bandmates deliver first-class Power and Heavy Metal nonstop in a journey back in time to the band’s early days; followed by Secrets Of The American Gods, which starts in a beyond epic, majestic manner before exploding into another headbanging, symphonic Power Metal aria, being therefore tailored for their live setlists. And it’s then time for another explosion of visceral Power Metal by the bards entitled Violent Shadows, where Barend and Frederik’s kitchen offers the band’s guitar duo the perfect atmosphere for their wicked riffs and solos.

Life Beyond The Spheres displays solid instrumental and vocals, albeit it lacks the same punch as its predecessors. The keys by guest Joost van den Broek are spot-on, though, enhancing the song’s kick. Then speeding things up and delivering a beautiful fusion of heaviness, epicness and violence the band brings forward Architects Of Doom, where Frederik dictates the pace while Hansi continues to stun us all with his unparalleled vocals; and Hansi mesmerizes us once again in Let It Be No More, starting in a serene, pensive manner and evolving into a bold and beautiful sonority where André pierces our souls with his guitar solo. The fantastic Blood Of The Elves brings to us listeners powerful lyrics (“Honor, it’s easy to dispose / In this darkest hour we’re alone / From behind closed doors it aims for her / Magic’s reaching out to draw her in / To the eye of the storm / The storm”) spiced up by a traditional, straightforward sound that will please all fans of the band, whereas just like a sinister, climatic ending of a fantasy movie we’re treated to the hammering Destiny, a great way to conclude another sensational work by Blind Guardian showcasing their characteristic vocals and riffs enfolded by gorgeous background elements.

Blind Guardian The God Machine Nuclear Blast Mailorder Vinyl Boxset

Such masterpiece of German Power and Heavy Metal can be appreciated in all of its glory on YouTube and on Spotify, but if I were you I would certainly click HERE or HERE to purchase the physical edition of the album, including the superb Nuclear Blast Mailorder Vinyl Boxset, limited to 1,700 copies, which comes with a crystal-clear double LP with red inkspot and black splatter in a gatefold with 24-page booklet, a digipack CD, a board game, a slipmat, a signed card, a sticker and a postcard set. Don’t forget to also follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram for news and tour dates, and to stream all of their amazing videos and albums on YouTube and on Spotify. In summary, seven years between two albums feels like an eternity for us fans when the band in question is as amazing as Blind Guardian, but the wait was certainly worth it as The God Machine proves why such German metal machine is so respected and admired in the world of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Deliver Us From Evil, Damnation, Violent Shadows and Blood Of The Elves.

Worst moments of the album: Life Beyond The Spheres.

Released in 2022 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Deliver Us From Evil 5:21
2. Damnation 5:20
3. Secrets Of The American Gods 7:28
4. Violent Shadows 4:17
5. Life Beyond The Spheres 6:02
6. Architects Of Doom 6:20
7. Let It Be No More 4:48
8. Blood Of The Elves 4:37
9. Destiny 6:46

Nuclear Blast Mailorder Edition, Vinyl Boxset bonus tracks
10. Life Beyond the Spheres (Cyber Mix) 6:07
11. Destiny (Lead Guitar Version) 6:42
12. Let It Be No More (Heavy Vocals) 4:49

Band members
Hansi Kürsch – vocals
André Olbrich – lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars
Marcus Siepen – rhythm and acoustic guitars
Frederik Ehmke – drums

Guest musicians
Barend Courbois – bass (session)
Thomas Geiger – keyboards, effects (session)
Joost van den Broek – keyboards on “Life Beyond The Spheres”
Marcela Bovio, Marjan Welman, Olaf Senkbeil, Hacky Hackmann & John “Jaycee” Cuijpers – backing vocals

Album Review – Axel Rudi Pell / Lost XXIII (2022)

Mr. Axel Rudi Pell and his henchmen are back with another thrilling album consisting of ten deeply melodic Hard Rock songs.

For more than thirty years, Bochum, Germany-based guitarist and songwriter Axel Rudi Pell has released new albums at regular intervals with his Heavy Metal/Hard Rock band Axel Rudi Pell, and it couldn’t have been any different now in 2022 as Axel and his henchmen Johnny Gioeli on vocals, Volker Krawczak on bass, Ferdy Doernberg on keyboards and Bobby Rondinelli on drums have just unleashed upon us their 21st album to date, the excellent Lost XXIII, following up on their 2020 album Sign of the Times. Mixed by Thomas Geiger, produced by Axel Rudi Pell himself, mastered by Ulf Horbelt, and displaying a classic artwork by Thomas Ewerhard, Lost XXIII consists of ten deeply melodic Hard Rock songs showcasing a number of fast-paced highlights and surprising compositions, putting a huge smile on the faces of all diehard fans of such talented guitarist as well as to newcomers to his metallic world.

Lost XXIII Prequel, one of their trademark intros to pretty much all of their albums, sets the stage for Johnny and Axel to kick some ass in Survive, where Johnny flawlessly declaims the song’s catchy chorus (“Will we survive? / Who is our enemy? / Restrictions for all, can’t you see? / Will we survive? / Searching for destiny / Unchaining the souls to be free / Will we survive?”) while Bobby dictates the pace with his heavy and melodic beats. And let’s keep raising our horns to the dirty and thrilling Hard Rock by Axel and his crew in the dancing tune No Compromise, with Volker and Bobby doing an awesome job with their old school kitchen, whereas the electrifying riffs by Axel will keep penetrating deep inside your mind in Down on the Streets, while Ferdy brings forth those 70’s-inspired keys we all love so much. Johnny will make the hearts of Hard Rock lovers from all over the world melt with the deep, soulful ballad Gone with the Wind, all spiced up by the passionate keys by Ferdy, followed by Freight Train, another song that sounds like a heavier version of Bon Jovi in the band’s career, presenting a solid instrumental always boosted by Johnny’s soaring vocals.

Putting the pedal to the metal it’s time for the high-octane tune Follow the Beast, showcasing an incredibly addictive chorus (“Follow the beast / The end is in sight, the end’s coming near / Follow the beast / Dark clouds all over the sea / Follow the beast / There’s no way out, living in fear / Follow the beast / Stay close to me, don’t disappear”), with Bobby being on fire behind his drums while Axel embellishes the airwaves with his stylish riffs and solos. Then Ferdy’s gentle piano kicks off the romantic Fly with Me, where needless to say Johnny steals the spotlight with another striking vocal performance while Axel extracts sheer passion from his strings, proving metal bands don’t need to play at the speed of light to sound majestic. Johnny takes a break while his bandmates jam in great fashion in the instrumental tune The Rise of Ankhoor, spearheaded by the virtuoso Axel armed with his incendiary guitar, pumping us up for the title-track Lost XXIII, a traditional Axel Rudi Pell aria exhaling epicness, magic and darkness, with Ferdy’s keys nicely complementing Axel’s riffs in a bold and powerful feast full of melancholy beautifully transformed into words by Johnny, putting a stunning ending to the album.

Axel Rudi Pell Lost XXIII Deluxe Box Set

Such beautiful and pleasant album of our beloved Heavy Metal and Hard Rock can be appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if I were you I would add it to your collection of metal albums by clicking HERE, or even better, you can grab the superb Lost XXIII Deluxe Box Set from Nuclear Blast or from Napalm Records. In addition, Axel and his team of amazing musicians are waiting for you on Facebook and on Instagram, where you can stay updated on their tour dates, and based on the high quality of the music found in Lost XXIII their upcoming shows will surely be awesome. And just like that we have more of the thrilling music by Mr. Axel Rudi Pell to enjoy until the band releases new material, most probably in 2024, for our total delight.

Best moments of the album: Survive, No Compromise, Gone with the Wind and Follow the Beast.

Worst moments of the album: Freight Train.

Released in 2022 SPV/Steamhammer

Track listing
1. Lost XXIII Prequel (Intro) 1:47
2. Survive 5:02
3. No Compromise 4:57
4. Down on the Streets 4:46
5. Gone with the Wind 8:56
6. Freight Train 6:08
7. Follow the Beast 5:02
8. Fly with Me 5:42
9. The Rise of Ankhoor 3:48
10. Lost XXIII 8:35

Band members
Johnny Gioeli – vocals
Axel Rudi Pell – guitar
Volker Krawczak – bass
Ferdy Doernberg – keyboards
Bobby Rondinelli – drums