So here we go again – another Axel Rudi Pell solo album. He’s a fecund bugger, is ARP – This is his fourth full-length studio offering since Sentinel Daily started in 2016 – but is Lost XXIII a testament to that fecundity, or a good advert for occasional abstention?

‘Still don’t know what we’re doing’ intones vocalist Johnny Gioeli at the start of the album’s title track; This is highly chucklesome, of course, as if there’s one band currently doing the rounds in the world of Euro power metal that knows exactly what it’s doing, it’s Axel Rudi Pell’s… and Gioeli, now on his fifteenth go behind the studio mic for ARP, surely knows more than anyone else just what he’s up to as he adds another workmanlike sub-Dio performance to his CV. This Eastern-tinged album closer is without doubt Axel Rudi Pell at his most predictable and stodgy, but there are at least flashes on this new record that suggest the man and his band (as ever, that’s former Rainbow man Bobby Rondinelli on drums, Ferdy Doernberg (Keys) and bassist Volker Krawczak) have had a little rethink about how they go about things this time around.

Fly With Me, for instance, with it’s maudlin piano intro, has a rare whiff of Zakk Wylde about it and features a superb vocal from Gioeli; when he’s cut loose from the expectation of reproducing the vocal styles of RJD circa 1976 Gioeli often proves himself to be a fine singer in his own right, and, at least until this song explodes into a standard issue rainbow-referencing power ballad that’s the case here. Similarly, Pell himself moves from the norm come solo time with a fine performance well away from the normal parameters he sets himself.

Elsewhere, the uptempo Follow The Beast shows that our hero at least acknowledges that good music was made after 1979 with it’s racing, Maidenesque rhythms. These are minor, almost minuscule shifts, but within the context of an Axel Rudi Pell record they make a big difference in terms of expectation and listenability for the non diehard spectator.

Instrumental The Rise of Ankhoor is a nice change of pace, too, and features some nice parping from Doernberg, with the result being that this might well be the most accessible and enjoyable ARP album in some while. That being the case, here’s to the next twenty three!

Lost XXIII releases on April 15.