Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Axehammer-Marching On

Pure Steel Records

Now, if that album art work doesn't just scream "METAL!" then I don't know what does folks! L.A.'s Axehammer actually trace their roots back to early eighties when they released a demo (1983 to be exact) and made a bit of noise. Another demo followed in 1988 and if I'm not mistaken that was about it for this quality metal band. Sentinel Steel would come knocking years later and, after packaging up the demos and unreleased material into "Lord Of The Realm", the group was inspired to make another go at it. That ended up resulting in 2005's "Windrider". It took 7 years, but now we have the follow-up to that album and, without taking anything away from what these guys are doing, the end result is the same-80's metal that lives, breathes and downright worships at the feet of all things Iron Maiden/Judas Priest. "Marching On" sees the addition of vocalist
Kleber Mandrake who does a good job trying to reign in the rest of the band. Said band? Well, guitarist Jerry Watt plays at a high level. His leads are insanely eighties heavy metal in form and it's a toss up if his playing is the best part of this CD or if Kleber's vocals are. Given the skill of those two and the skill of bassist Horacio Colmenares (New Eden/Steel Prophet) you'd think everything would gel together. For whatever reason though the bass is hidden throughout much of "Marching On". If only that was the case with the drums then "Marching On" would be twisted and epic. Drummer Joe Aghassi isn't horrible by any stretch of the imagination, but two problems exist. The first is how high the drums sound in this mix. That would not be an issue if there was some variety to them, but it seems to be the same beat over and over again. Four songs in and I still couldn't pick up much in the way of variety. And, when your guitarist is that good it really sticks out when the rhythm section is only so-so. "Marching On" still will appeal to straight-ahead heavy metal fans. There is enough here for those that love this sort of thing. "Fire Away" is simply killer with it's Judas Priest vibe as is "Cemetery". "Cemetery" comes of as "Painkiller" era Judas Priest with a sort of light Slayer affection. In a time when this sort of heavy metal comes across as good, but too over the top (far too many bands try to emulate the greats, but just come off as cheesy copies of the greats like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden) at least Axehammer sound as if they are still standing in the eighties instead of trying to recapture that sound. Yes, most of this comes off as Iron Maiden meets Judas Priest, but you must admit that those two bands covered a lot of ground and had such a huge influence on legions of acts so it is hard to play this style of metal and not sound like those two I would argue. By the time "Flesh Machine" wraps up chances are you'll want to pull out "Painkiller", but at last it does not make me want to give up on Axehammer all together.

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Blogger Metal Mark said...

I heard Windrider. It was very much in the Preist lover style of metal. It was decent but nothing great.

6:06 AM  

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