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Axe of the Apostles
Artist: Final Axe
Label: Retroactive Records
Time: 10 tracks / 38:03 min.
Final Axe is a Heavy Metal band whose first recordings were released in the late eighties and early nineties—this is an important thing to remember when listening to their ‘new’ release, The Axe of the Apostles—although time has moved on, Final Axe has not necessarily done the same. What you will hear on this CD is, basically, heavy metal music that sounds very much rooted in the nineties—this is neither a criticism or a compliment, but simply a way to let you know what you can expect to hear when you put this disc in your CD player. The Axe of the Apostles—and this has got to be one of my favorite album titles of the year, by the way—actually started out when the guitar & vocal parts were recorded in 1990, so it’s no surprise that a 90s vibe inhabits this recording. Sixteen years later, Stryper’s Robert Sweet was called on to go into the studio and add drum tracks to help finish the project, and contribute to the Cd insert’s confusing band credits: “Final Axe: (on this recording) Keith Miles—vocals, Bill Menchen—All stringed instruments & keyboards, Robert Sweet—Drums — Final Axe was: Keith Miles—vocals, Bill Menchen—guitars, Rod Reasner—Bass, Chris Reth—Drums.” I’m not quite sure what this implies concerning who Final Axe is today, but I’m sure they’ve got it all figured out…..
Your attitude toward metal music will determine how you feel about this CD. If you’re not a fan of the genre at all, you won’t even begin to enjoy these songs. If you’re more into ‘old school’ metal, you might get into the basic sound of the project, with its crunching chords, macho-Christian lyrics, gruff, testosterone-laced vocals and double-bass drum attacks—on the other hand, if you’re looking for a modern-day contender, you might find this CD a bit too ‘by-the-numbers’ to hold its own against today’s metal bands. All of the elements are there: the gothic battle-axe image on the cover, the angry, dark song-titles (‘Heads Will Roll,’ ‘Burn In Hell,’ Vengeance is Mine,’ ‘Dealing With Death,’ etc….), but -The Axe of the Apostles- somehow lacks the edge (you had to see that pun coming…) you’d expect from looking at the package. The vocals are good, but seemingly limited in range, occasionally a bit awkward, and certainly not in the same powerful, emotional class as Stryper’s Michael Sweet. A nit-pick of my own: metal bands, and their lead singers, often tend to take themselves too seriously. It’s true that the subject matter is straight forward, heavy-handed serious stuff, but, gee — somebody had enough of a sense of humor to title the album, -The Axe of the Apostles- for cryin’ out loud! There seems to be serious lack of fun about what’s going on here. The guitar work is very good, although not outstanding, and becomes more interesting only in rare moments such as can be found on ‘Ball and Chain,’ which breaks formula from the other more standard-issue metal compositions on the album. Robert Sweet’s powerhouse drumming is impressive, but fails to smoothly bridge the 16 year recording gap enough to convince me that there was real energy in the studio—the essential element, I think, to creating exciting, vital, powerful rock & roll.
If you’re a collector of heavy metal, you should pick up this CD. It is, after all, a revival of an established band, and it does feature one of metal’s more well-known drummers—besides, this way you can be sure that you have a song called ‘Metal Missionaries’ in your collection. You might feel like you’ve heard this all before, but, hey — I’ve eaten pulled pork barbecue before, and I intend to eat it again. Several more times, in fact.
Axe yourself this question: ‘am I a fan of heavy metal bands?’ If your answer is ‘yes,’ then you’re going to want this CD. Does ‘Axe’ swing? ..not very much. Do these guys have ‘chops?’ ….yeah, sure. They have a handle on what they’re doing. That’s enough sharp wit and cutting commentary for now.
...but before I split, I want to give The Axe of the Apostles:
...add half a tock if you’re really into the metal scene.
By Bert Saraco