Produced by: A.R. Pell & Ulrich Poesselt

Released: April 10 / Website
Closest Relative: Zeno, Hardline
GENRE: Hard Rock

  1. The Arrival (Intro)
  2. Earls Of Black
  3. Voodoo Nights
  4. Night And Rain
  5. The Masquerade Ball
  6. Tear Down The Walls
  7. The Line
  8. Hot Wheels
  9. The Temple Of The Holy
  10. July Morning

Axel's last album was a killer. I had been an OK fan of his, but adding Johnny Giolei (ex-Hardline) to the fold as vocalist and the deeper, darker and stronger songs of Oceans Of Time converted me full time.
This is the follow up new studio album to Oceans Of Time after the Ballads II side project.
Gioeli is back on vocals with the great power drummer Mike Terrana from Rage replacing Jorg Michael, while the rest of the band remains unchanged.
The overall sound of The Masquerade Ball is similar to that of Oceans Of Time, the production team is the same, but there are a few subtle differences.
This album appears to be a little mellower, more restrained and a little less over the top than the usual Axel fare. Oceans Of Time made a move towards a more mature sound and this album continues to move further in that direction.
Unlike some of the axe slinger out there, Axel takes particular pride in crafting a song and adding rhythm
and depth to it before adding some of the much anticipated solo's and lead breaks over that.
Some do it the other way, trying to patch a song together over 4 minutes of soloing!
The main difference with this album are the Epic's. There are again 4 tracks over 7 minute in length, but these tracks try a few different tricks than your traditional slow to fast building epic.
Earls Of Black opens the album in understandably traditional Axel Rudi Pell fashion - flat out pedal to the metal Euro hard rock.
Voodoo Nights is a straight forward rocker. As straight forward as Axel gets anyway! A good hard guitar riff and fairly restrained chorus. Good vocals from Gioeli.
Night And Rain is the first epic, clocking in at 8 minutes. The feel of the intro is thick with atmosphere. A slow guitar break and soft vocal over a moody-ish feel.
The chorus comes quicker than expected as things warm up. A good almost commercial feeling chorus. The expected guitar solo / instrumental break comes, although it's a little more restrained and laid out that I would have expected. Over all a good moody slow to mid paced rocker.
The 10 minute plus title track, The Masquerade Ball, follows straight after. A great vocal from Gioeli sets the song up. He really sings his balls off on this track. But even though the song is slow and dark, neither the guitar, not the vocals rule. It's very evenly balanced and quite laid back in it's feel.
Tear Down The Walls breaks the pace up a little with a fairly straight forward uptempo hard rocker. In the vibe of Ride The Rainbow from the last album.
The next epic The Line opens with an acoustic guitar and another great lead intro vocal. The guitar is heavy without being dominant and then it's back to an acoustic and some soft synth accompaniment. The lead solo is long, slow and very moody. Great playing.
Hot Wheels is another uptempo hard rocker that seem to break the epic's up nicely. I love the guitar riff on this track. Weighty and thick without being overly heavy.
The Temple Of The Holy is an epic that opens with a piano backing Gioeli's ballad like vocal. The song stays on this course for most of it's 7 minutes. Occasional slow lead solo's over a very moody and slow base.
The last track on the album runs 10 minutes. July Morning opens with an organ an then an electric guitar solo with rhythm guitar then being added. The rest of the song varies in pace, again a laid back verse to a heavier moody chorus, but with the organ almost out doing the guitar parts.
BOTTOM LINE: This album is the natural progression from Oceans Of Time and partners that album perfectly. The surprise for me is that is it relatively laid back and filled with many fine solo's, but few of them at the traditional frantic pace some Euro metal albums tend to run with. Axel has tried to create a moody record with the formula for your typical epic being changed to suit. And happily I can report that it works very well.
Add to that some expectedly fine vocals from Johnny Gioeli and this is another killer album from Axel Rudi Pell, albeit a softer on than we have come to expect.
ESSENTIAL FOR: Every Axel fan, fans of Euro hard rock and some Hardline fans.
DISCOGRAPHY:Wild Obsession . Nasty Reputation . Eternal Prisoner . Ballads . Between The Walls . Made In Germany . Black Moon Pyramid . Magic . Oceans Of Time . Ballads 2 . The Masquerade Ball

30/10/05: onsiÁ -
Rating: 20
well it ain't that bad guys, maybe as others said it s meaningless and has nothing to do with reality (the lyrics) but it still better than other achievement of other bands, take st anger for exp or aerosmith or whatever! i m not saying that it s the best of him but come on i really find it intresting!

26/11/03: Hyena -
Rating: 12
I bought this album. Still hate myself for that. This is a totally suck-ass plate with only below-average elements on it.

What's wrong with this album then? Everything, basically. It lacks power, songwriting, musicianship, good singing, good lyrics, three-dimensinality etc etc... It's just boring and futile. Jesus christ, just listen to the opening track! It's an avalanche of shit! No, not an avalanche. Avalanche is big and impressive (at least in some ways). This album is not.


06/05/03: Rob -
Rating: 100
Axel Rudi pell again comes out with an incredible cd that has great staying power. The guitar riffs are incredible with influeces of Rainbow & Deep Purple. This group should be more well known around the world because they are putting out great music every year. This album is a must for any metal fans that enjoy great guitars!!!

28/11/02: Mik -
Rating: 30
Earls of black may be riding high. So was the CD before a blast from my shotgun tore it into pieces. This was the first A.R.P. album I ever bought and will be the last. Lyrics are the worst part; totally meaningless and with nothing to do with real life. Certainly there are lots of people who like this album and that's okay with me. But as I'm not into this thin pop -metal I just don't understand why this album was ever made.

20/10/02: Ignacio -
Rating: 91

I totally agree with you Andrew,... Gioeli really sings his balls off on the title track (incredible!!) but also Axel keeps his guitar voice as i never have ever heard in him. Finest!! Really melodic album, the best thing i've ever heard from them, a truly nice discovery :-)

08/03/02: Andrew -
Rating: 98
Axel is one hell of a shredder. This album simply ROCKS. And kudos to him for utilizing one of the most underused singers
in music today. Johnny should've done more after the first Hardline album but his work on Oceans and now Masquerade are
a good match for Axels guitar work. No need to break this down song-by-song. A guarantee winner!

10/07/00: Charlie Yap -
Rating: 95
This is an excellent album's rockin' really well!....I suggest that after Rob Rock and Chris Impellitteri parted ways...Rob Rock should record the next Axel Rudi Pell album (It's gonna be awesome!).

03/07/00: lance -
Rating: 100
Axel first got my attetion by the title track Oceans of Time. That was a beautiful song. The rest of that album kicked @ss as well. The Masquerade Ball continues that. The songs are top notch. The lyrics are as 'mystical' as ever. Axel is a band by itself. Nothing I've heard compares.

23/06/00: Rob Hake -
Rating: 90
Great playing by Axel!!! Superior vocals by Gioeli!! The only flaw in the album is that the songwriting could be a little stronger.

02/05/00: Svempa -
Rating: 97
All my respect to Andrew, but I think this is THE album of the year. The latest Danger Danger is not as good as this album and I'm a very big fan of D2 as well.
I think other reviews describe this album fairly, so I wont comment on every song, but I have to say that the reason for not giving this album 100% is "The temple of the holy". It would have been a killer-track on almost every other album, but I would have preferred a rocker instead.
The song aint bad in any way but I think an uptempo rocker would have made this album unbeatable. Just my own humble opinion.
Axel play the guitar absolutely fantastic. Fast when needed, with emosion when needed. You never get tired of the solo's.
Johnny Gioeli is the best singer on this planet!! Enormous power and feeling in every single word.
The rest of the band should not be forgotten as they really fit together with the "super-powers" of Pell and Gioeli.
Anyone who likes melodic hardrock must buy this album. If it had been released in the mid-eighties it would have sold just as much as Def Leppard's Hysteria and Bon Jovi's Slippery when wet!
I really hope that Axel will bring the boys to Sweden for a couple of concerts.

19/04/00: Todd -
Rating: 80
So could Axel Rudi Pell follow up his highly regarded "Oceans Of Time" with an even better release? You bet he could."The Masquerade Ball" is Pell at his finest."The Arrival" kicks off the album nicely.A haunting instrumental that sets the scene of what's to come.The first vocal track is "Earls Of Black".A typical Pell rocker that won't fail to fulfil the wettest of Euro rock
appetites."Voodoo Nights" kicks in with a little drum roll and a sweet guitar melody.Johnny G sounds great on this.The chorus is nicely layered with backing vocals without being over powering.Great song and my personal favourite.A haunting guitar intro starts off "Night And Rain"before Gioeli's smooth vocal appears.A commercial chorus adds to this song nicely.Next is the title track "The Masqureade Ball".
Once again Gioeli kicks in surrounded by keyboards and a smooth Pell guitar solo.The chorus kicks in with a slow but
powerful guitar riff.The keyboards in the chorus are beautifully layered and really add to the song by just giving it that extra touch."Tear Down The Walls" is another rocker with a good guitar riff and straight forward chorus."The Line follows with another Gioeli intro.The chorus is simple but very smooth.
"Hot Wheels" is a hand to the throat rocker which to me sounds
like it could've come off "Between The Walls".A great guitar riff."The Temple Of The Holy" starts off with Gioeli backed up by piano and follws with a smooth guitar by Pell.The song mainly keeps a ballad pace throughout.The album finishes with "July Morning" a Uriah Heep cover.Personally I would prefer no cover tunes.
Axel Rudi Pell would be one of the greatest guitar players.He is not a shredder but a well crafted player who builds his guitar playing around the most important thing,the song.His writing style is unique in itself and a testament that he is still growing as a musician.Adding Gioeli was a breathe of fresh air for him.All Rudi
Pell fans will no doubt like this release.

Rating: 100