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German guitarist Axel Rudi Pell is one of heavy metal's masterminds, thanks to his spiraling playing techniques and pinch-hitting riffs which crafted Pell as a mainstay in the hard rock genre for the majority of the hair metal '80s. His first band, Steeler, kicked off a mild career in Europe during the early part of the decade, issuing three albums (1984's Steeler, 1985's Rulin' the Earth, 1986's Strike Back) prior to 1987's Undercover Animal, which signaled the beginning of Pell's long-sought solo career. This professional jaunt allowed Pell to fully expose his riveting playing power and collaborations between he and other musicians. His 1989 debut Wild Obsession showcased ex-Steeler's bassist Volker Krawczak and vocal charm from Charlie Huhn, but 1991's sophomore effort proved Pell's determination. Nasty Reputation was heavier, throttling with Rob Rock on vocals and a definitive stance for Pell to also breach upon neo-classical influences. Later albums such as Black Moon Pyramid (1996) and Oceans of Time (1998) were exquisitely mastered, churning similar sounds of Rainbow and Deep Purple. Axel Rudi Pell proved his single star status, almost celebratory, like guitar wizard Yngwie Malmsteen, throughout the '90s as well, issuing a slew of releases while remaining a chief force among the German charts. ~ MacKenzie Wilson