Maxxxwell Carlisle-Full Metal Thunder EP
Power Dungeon Music
When it comes to rock, hard rock and heavy metal (as well as crossover, thrash, death and countless other genres) the city of L.A. is a well known and highly respected hotbed of talent. When you look at the list of who's who (band-wise) you see names like Armored Saint, Suicidal Tendencies, Dark Angel, Dokken, Mötley Crüe and Guns N' Roses. The thing is that's only the tip of the iceberg as those were just a few of the names that came to mind as I was preparing to write this review. With that being said, we're now going to want to add hot-shot* guitarist/competitive bodybuilder Maxxxwell Carlisle to the list. In addition to having his own band, which (incidentally) has also released 2 full-length albums, 2 singles and one additional EP, the very talented Maxxxwell has also spent time as a touring guitarist in Deathriders (The thrash band lead by former Anthrax vocalist Neil Turbon) and is now a member of L.A.'s Hellion. When you take into consideration that neoclassical/shred guitarist Maxxxwell Carlisle has also worked with Michael Angelo Batio (Nitro), Tina Guo (Solo artist and Cirque du Soleil / Michael Jackson Tour), Ethan Brosh (Angels of Babylon), Nita Strauss (The Iron Maidens and Femme Fatale), Simon Wright (Dio, AC/DC) and Bjorn Englen (Yngwie Malmsteen, Tony Macalpine) then it's even more impressive that he has found the time to have his own, self-named heavy metal band! And what a band it is! Falling just shy of 30 minutes, this 6-track EP is chock full of wicked shred solos that sit snugly atop a cool combination of straight-up heavy metal and U.S. arena metal! With a new vocalist on hand (Michael Yancy) and guest guitar solos by Nita Strauss (The Iron Maidens) and Rick Renstrom (Rob Rock, Mistheria) this EP offers just the right blend of shred-your-ass-off guitar solos and in-your-face-heavy metal riffs as to appeal to both the shred crowd and fans of traditional heavy metal. In addition to Carlisle and new lead vocalist Yancy you've got the rhythm section of bassist Frank Mullis and drummer Anton Peterson. Now, as to whether or not Frank Mullis actually played base on this EP? Well, that's a good question. Especially as the Metal Archives lists Maxxxwell Carlisle's instruments of choice as being lead guitars, keyboards (supposedly from 2007-present) and, you guessed it, bass guitar! Whatever the case may be, in now way, shape or form does it impact this album's strong heavy metal vibe or it's epic sense of energy! In a way I admit that I was reminded of Kane Robert's (Former member of Alice Cooper's touring band) solo career when I listened to this EP, but Maxxxwell Carlisle seems as if he's much more of a straight-laced metal musician then Cooper's former guitarist. And, even if guys like Chris Impellitteri and Yngwie Malmsteen are among some of Maxxxwell's influences, this band, or even just this EP, isn't a over-blown indulgence of neoclassical nonsense. And let's be thankful for that my friends. There is nothing worse in this world than what I like to call "musical masturbation". This band doesn't blow it's wad with run-away guitar solos that are slick enough in concept, but lack anything resembling emotion. Often times its those kind of stylish solos than ruin guitar rock and make me want to stuff dynamite in my ears, light the fuse and have my head explode. I'd sooner lose my head then come close to going bat-shit crazy over long, over-drawn neoclassical crap that doesn't even come close to being enjoyable! Thank the maker then that our man Maxxxwell has enough sense to rein his playing on this full-tilt heavy metal boogie of an EP and skip the over-inflated guitar solos. Instead this EP shows how you can play with style and still rock the socks off of your intended audience! This one comes with my stamp of approval and I just might have to do a rewind and check out some of his other materiel!
*In this case "hot-shot" is a more then fitting term and it is nothing but a compliment as Maxxxwell's guitar playing is superb!