Monday, May 17, 2010

Axe Battler - The Wrath Of My Steel

A demo that is not trying to be anything modern or trendy? If you seek one, Axe Battler have a demo for you! They have created a demo which sets itself from the pack in its honest-to-the-roots metal approach. But does this translate into quality? Axe Battler show that for them, the old school sound of the early 1980's heavy metal has never subsided and NWOBHM is still alive in their hearts. In general, there's not much to complain about but also, not a whole lot to talk about. Axe Battler's "The Wrath Of My Steel" has good riffs, a great vibe and is an easy listen to anyone who grew up on Iron Maiden or 70's Judas Priest and is seeking obscure heavy metal. The fact that is is a tape demo, for me at least, makes it even more endearing. A lack of traditional metal bands release on the format and to get my greedy hands on a demo tape like this, with it's black and white cover, and plastic case which continually falls apart and has to be put back together, takes me to a time when I existed only in the foresight of the great Greek gods. If you want to feel what it felt like to grow up in 1982, then grab a copy of this demo, preferably by post. It's like being an adolescent and having to go down the block and get dubbed copies from the weird guy down the block with a strange obsession with Rob Halford's crotch.

Opening track "Killers Of The Night" is as classic sounding as it is benign. Though it's sure to put a smile the face of anyone who like's Iron Maiden's first two albums, past that it's pretty average in quality. Though Axe Battler use few leads throughout the song, the instrumental section of the track is full of dual guitar harmonies and a great solo courtesy of Axe Battler's guitarist Chris. J.P Battler's vocals are charming, emotional and amateur, I would chose him over any of those "top tier" power metal bands that are touted by the metal media. He doubles on bass adequately, mainly following the rhythm guitars. Second track, the title track, "The Wrath Of My Steel," follows the opening song's style closely though is a bit long-winded. It drags like a two-legged dog. Third track, "At The Backstreet" is basically a ballad (remember that 80's vibe?) and is the weakest song for me on this release. The lyrics are the least interesting, about being in love with a hooker or something... and then she has a knife? I honestly don't know and can't figure it out... But the triplets during the fast part lag and are all over the timing map. Still, JP gets my admiration for singing a ballad and he does a dashing job with it."Minotaur's Labyrinth" is my favorite on the release. It's pace is perfect, it's memorable, the lyrics are simple but excellent, recounting the Greek tale of the labyrinth. When JP screams "The minotaur is thirsty for their flesh!" I just nod my head, feel elated and relish in the moment and the passion he has for Axe Battler's music. The lead section is great, dual leads, harmonized riffs once again in the Maiden style. Some notice to kit-kicker Manuel A. He is solid across the whole demo. I like the natural sound to his drums which seem to be free of studio trickery and actually played really well - something many drummers can take a lesson from; you don't need to have triggers to sound good... just play your drums properly! I think it has something to do with bands constantly aiming for exponential extremity, drummers are pushed past what the vast majority of human drummers can play.

The Witch Cross cover is cool. I never heard the original but if it sounds as good as Axe Battler's version, I'd be in my glory. It's amazing how much more there is to discover. Axe Battler however did not escape my vigilance and I'm glad. Axe Battler are a great band, still in formative stages but given time and a chance to grow with their music and their ideas, I see them becoming a great underground metal band. I think a slightly thicker guitar sound would really help Axe Battler. "The Wrath Of My Steel" is a good demo, nothing totally outstanding but still worth listening. I see myself playing "Minotaur's Labyrinth" or maybe "Killers Of The Night" on a bi-weekly basis. This is a great find for anyone looking for current bands playing really classic sounding metal.

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