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Axel Rudi Pell has been one of those reliable musicians whom you can always count on to stick to his guns. When one considers the state of metal during 1994, there was much reason to doubt that even a stalwart hold over from the 80s like ARP could keep their heads above water, but this album accomplishes it and more. “Between the Walls” stands along side “Black Moon Pyramid” as one of the more experimental works in his arsenal, but still maintaining that solid balance of Rainbow, Dio, Malmsteen and Sabbath worship.
Among the more standard sounding ARP songs on here is the atmospheric intro with the simple guitar melody “The Curse”, although one should take not that this is the first ARP full length release where the brief instrumental intro appears. “Talk of the Guns” is a solid blueprint for the very massive collection of ARP speed metal songs, combining solid riffing and simple melodic lines with fast double bass drum action and a catchy vocal line. “Warrior” and “Outlaw” are both cut from the harder edged yet slower 80s metal anthems which are also numerous in the ARP catalog. “Gypsy” has some interesting guitar effects as well as an intricate main riff that reminds me a lot of a Van Halen song.
“Wishing Well” is a cover song from a band in the early 70s that penned lyrics fairly similar in nature to what Dio would write; the music sounds like vintage Deep Purple. “Between the Walls” is a highly melodic song that carries one of ARP’s most memorable guitar riffs, definitely an appropriate choice for a title track. “Innocent Child” is probably the closest thing to a ballad on here, although it is still quite riff driven and full of NOWBHM influences.
The two real standouts, however, are ones that can’t be categorized as typical ARP. “Desert Fire” is probably one of the most amazing technical displays by all the instrumentalists I’ve ever heard. There is a riveting set of guitar and keyboard interchanges on this one, Axel rivals Malmsteen, while Julie Greaux actually challenges Jens Johannsen with a series of highly technical leads. Even good old Volker, who otherwise is stuck keeping the bottom the way Ian Hill is famous for, get a few rather amazing technical fret board tapping lines in; how he has the patience to play those 3 note drones all day when he is capable of stuff like this is beyond me. “Casbah” is the essential long epic of any ARP release, loaded with references to Black Sabbath’s Heaven and Hell approach married to some progressions similar to “Stargazer” by Rainbow. The intro section actually sounds heavily jazzed influenced and fits appropriately for a dream sequence, when what follows is probably the heaviest power chord riff I’ve heard out of ARP to date.
In conclusion, this is essential listening for fans of the traditional heavy metal genre, and also good listening for fans of shred playing. Dio, Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Deep Purple, and several NWOBHM acts have influenced the sound present on here, and the result is definitely worthy of the consumption of fans of all mentioned genres. It also is a testament to the fact that fashions come and go, and those whom follow them blindly fall out of significance due to a lack of a solid base, but acts like ARP whom choose long term yet smaller audiences over the fly by night racket of the mainstream.