Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Between the Walls’ (1994) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

While Jeff Scott Soto was touring with Talisman in Europe, Axel Rudi Pell was ready to make another album. After the mixed reaction from the fans on ‘The Ballad’ album, Axel was going to go to his roots and make a pure metal album…a German Metal Album as he has stated. He contacted Jeff and arranged for him to come in and work on the album while his other band was touring. Jeff was happy to do so as he really enjoyed working with Axel since it wasn’t a dictatorship like other bands he had worked in. Jeff and Axel work well together and Soto co-wrote 4 of the 10 tracks.

Most of the band was back from the last studio album, ‘Eternal Prisoner’. There was obviously Axel and Jeff, but Jorg Michael was back on drums and Volker Krawczak on bass. Keyboardist Kai Raglewski was out and in his place was Julie Greaux who has worked with Billy Idol and happened to be Soto’s girlfriend. That’s convenient wouldn’t you say!! What I would say is that this was a solid line-up and had me interested to hear what they had put together this time around. It is definitely more fantasy and mystical lyrics and it is truly metal for sure! One more thing, in the liner notes, it lists out what instrument each band member plays with and for Jeff…it says he plays with Julie….”Oh Heffe, Oh Oh Ooh”…Let me just say…Wow!! Okay, hold on tight and let’s get to the music.

The album opens with a short instrumental interlude called “The Curse”. It is slow, simple and not much going on. A little boring choice to open but when the first real song kicks in, “Talk of the Guns”, it is explosive and a speed metal song that is like a knock upside the head. The double bass kick drum from Jorg is a roaring thunder and Pell’s shredding is fast and furious. An assault to the senses and this is the way you start an album. Jeff’s vocals sound a little more mature here and he delivers it with his trademark powerful vocals. The vocals match up nicely with his melodic tone versus Pell’s riffing and then the solo sees Pell do something I think he should do more of and that is show-off that talent. And he does just that and then some.

“Warrior” keeps the rock going and although not speed metal with this one, it is a solid hard rocking track. There is an 80’s rock feel a la Dokken and other bands of that ilk. Jeff shines here as this melodic rock type sound is his wheelhouse. With a catchy chorus and some cool riffing, you can’t help buy enjoy this one.

Then we get “Cry of the Gypsy” which has a Van Halen type opening riff and brings us more 80’s hard rock and I think that is a good thing. The fact that is is 1994 doesn’t matter. However, the song does meander along and isn’t overly exciting outside that opening riff. The chorus is catchy enough to keep it on the album, but I found the verses a little dull. Pell comes in with a great solo so the song does have its moments.

Now the best song on the album is the epic 10 minute track called “Casbah”. The song is about a prisoner who is dreaming of escaping and going to Casbah. The song opens with some keyboards and acoustic guitar. But then…BAM!…it attacks you with a full on Metallica sound with that guitar and bass riff and especially on the drums as Jorg’s playing on this one is unreal. Jeff’s vocals soar and he slays the song matching the playing of the band. I like a 10 minute song that flies by and you wish there was more to come and this one does that for me. There are dream elements to the song that remind a little of Rainbow and there are few Sabbath elements in here as well. Pell really lets loose on this one and you see what a great player he truly is and we need more of that from him. Easily my favorite track on the album.

“Outlaw” goes right back to the 80’s rock sound and that isn’t a bad thing. It is an uptempo track that speeds along and has a great, simple chorus that is quite catchy. Pell has a nice riff that is easy to remember and his solo is more perfection. I feel he is finally letting loose and bringing the goods. Simply a good, solid song.

My least favorite track on the album is “Wishing Well” which is a cover of the Free song. The song is dull, flat and I have to admit the vocals are that way as well. Jeff usually does covers well, but it felt like a paint by number track, pure filler and very skippable. It felt like he was holding back.

Then we get a little more serious with the next track. “Innocent Child” is a ballad and touches on a very sensitive topic…child abuse and child pornography. Some great keyboard work on here from Julie which gives it a very serious atmosphere. Pell’s riffs are gripping and cutting at the same time. Jeff’s vocals soar backed with Julie on piano, a dynamic duo for sure. It is a touching, heart wrenching track and another of my favorite tracks on the album. One of Jeff’s best vocal performances on the album.

The title track, “Between the Walls”, is up next and it takes back to the rock and the metal of the earlier part of the album. Pell’s riff on this one is quite a standout and Jeff’s vocals are what you expect at this point with even a little grit added to them. It is a fast paced, hard driving song.

Another highlight on the album is “Desert Fire”. An instrumental track that is basically a keyboard and guitar solo ballad between Julie and Axel. Think Jon Lord and Richie Blackmore and you have an idea what you will get. It is freaking amazing and might be the best Axel instrumental I’ve ever heard. Yes, it is that good.

Track Listing:

  1. The Curse – Delete
  2. Talk of the Guns – Keeper
  3. Warrior – Keeper
  4. Cry of the Gypsy – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  5. Casbah – Keeper
  6. Outlaw – Keeper
  7. Wishing Well – Delete
  8. Innocent Child – Keeper
  9. Between the Walls – Keeper
  10. Desert Fire – Keeper

The Track Score is 7.5 out of 10 Tracks or 75%.  Axel is consistent and you know what you are going to get with his albums and that isn’t a bad thing. This one is another fantastic release with some of my favorite Axel tracks so far with “Casbah”, “Innocent Child” and “Desert Fire”.  Jeff’s vocals keep getting better and keep reminding me why I’m a fan.  With only a few missteps, it is still another great release that got better for me with each listen.  My Overall Score is another 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars which means I might have to explore more Axel Rudi Pell albums that Jeff isn’t in to see how they stack up.  I’m glad we still have a few more Axel albums to go.

UP NEXT: GARY SCHUTT – SENTIMETAL (1994)

THE JEFF SCOTT SOTO SERIES:

  1. Panther – ‘Panther’ (1986) – recorded in 1984
  2. Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force – ‘Rising Force’ (1984)
  3. Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force – ‘Marching Out’ (1985)
  4. Kuni – ‘Lookin’ For Action’ (1988)
  5. Kryst the Conqueror – ‘Deliver Us From Evil’ (1989) / ‘Soldiers of Light: The Complete Recordings (2019)
  6. Eyes – ‘Eyes’ (1990)
  7. Eyes – “Nobody Said It Was Easy” (1990) – 7″ Single – Bonus Edition
  8. Talisman – ‘Talisman’ (1990)
  9. Talisman – “I’ll Be Waiting” (1990) – 7″ Single – Bonus Edition
  10. Skrapp Mettle – ‘Sensitive’ (1991)
  11. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Eternal Prisoner’ (1992)
  12. Bakteria – ‘Deficate! Suffocate! Mutilate! Masturbate!’ (1992 / 2009)
  13. Eyes – ‘Windows of the Soul’ (1993)
  14. Talisman – ‘Genesis’ (1993)
  15. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘The Ballads’ (1993)
  16. Biker Mice From Mars – ‘Biker Mice From Mars (Soundtrack)’ (1993)
  17. Takara – ‘Eternal Faith’ (1993)
  18. Talisman – ‘5 Out Of 5 (Live in Japan)’ (1994)
  19. Talisman – ‘Humanimal’ (1994)
  20. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Between the Walls’ (1994)
  21. Gary Schutt – ‘Sentimetal’ (1994)
  22. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Love Parade’ (1994)
  23. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Made in Germany (Live)’ (1995)
  24. Takara – ‘Taste of Heaven’ (1995)
  25. Talisman – ‘Life’ (1995)
  26. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Black Moon Pyramid’ (1996)
  27. Human Clay – ‘Human Clay’ (1996)
  28. Talisman – ‘Best of’ (1996)
  29. Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Magic’ (1997)
  30. Human Clay – ‘U4IA’ (1997)
  31. Boogie Knights – ‘Welcome to the Jungle Boogie’ (1997)
  32. Talisman – ‘Truth’ (1998)
  33. Takara – ‘Blind in Paradise’ (1998)
  34. Talisman – ‘Live at Sweden Rock Festival’ (2001)
  35. ‘Rock Star (Soundtrack)’ – Various Artists (2001)
  36. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Prism’ (2002)
  37. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Holding On E.P.’ (2002) – Bonus Edition
  38. Humanimal – ‘Humanimal’ (2002)
  39. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘JSS Live at the Gods 2002’ (2003)
  40. Talisman – ‘Cats & Dogs’ (2003)
  41. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Lost in the Translation’ (2004)
  42. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live at the Queen Convention 2003’ (2004)
  43. Talisman – ‘Five Men Live’ (2005)
  44. Soul Sirkus – ‘World Play’ (2005)
  45. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Believe in Me E.P.’ (2006) – Bonus Edition
  46. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Essential Ballads’ (2006)
  47. Talisman – ‘7’ (2006)
  48. Journey – ‘Live from Atlanta (Bootleg)’ (2006)
  49. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘B-Sides’ (2006)
  50. Redlist – ‘Ignorance’ (2007)
  51. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Beautiful Mess’ (2009)
  52. Jeff Scott Soto – “21st Century” / “Gin & Tonic Sky” CD Single (2009) – Bonus Edition
  53. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘One Night in Madrid’ (2009)
  54. Trans-Siberian Orchestra – ‘Night Castle’ (2009)
  55. W.E.T. – ‘W.E.T.’ (2009)
  56. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live at Firefest 2008’ (2010)
  57. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Damage Control’ (2012)
  58. W.E.T. – ‘Rise’ (2013)
  59. W.E.T. – ‘One Live in Stockholm’ (2014)
  60. SOTO – ‘Inside the Vertigo’ (2015)
  61. SOTO – ‘Divak’ (2016)
  62. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Retribution’ (2017)
  63. Sons of Apollo – ‘Psychotic Symphony’ (2017)
  64. W.E.T. – ‘Earthrage’ (2018)
  65. SOTO – ‘Origami’ (2019)
  66. Sons of Apollo – ‘Live With the Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony’ (2019)
  67. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Wide Away (In My Dreamland)’ (2020)
  68. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘Live and Loud in Milan 2019’ (2020)
  69. Sons of Apollo – ‘MMXX’ (2020)
  70. SOTO – ‘Revision’ (2020)
  71. W.E.T. – ‘Retransmission’ (2021)
  72. Jeff Scott Soto – ‘The Duets Collection, Vol. 1’ (2021)
  73. Jeff Scott Soto / Jason Bieler – Live In Concert (2022) – Bonus Edition

36 thoughts on “Axel Rudi Pell – ‘Between the Walls’ (1994) – Album Review (The Jeff Scott Soto Series)

    1. It is a metal cover. None of Jeff’s stuff around this time is no where close to the music of the scene in the US. But most of his albums were strictly European and Japanese releases anyway.

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  1. This album is great. Pell wanted to show he could still rock and this album has a lot of good riffs to unpack.

    And of course Soto compliments perfectly. I know that Malmsteen and Soto had some words recently but Pell on this album was doing Malmsteen better than Malmsteen.

    Liked by 1 person

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