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Directly from Canada's metropolis, the cosmopolitan city of Toronto, Axxion is a new heavy metal and this EP is their first release. Comparable to their friends Cauldron, the band is influenced by many heavy metal scenes including NWOBHM, some USPM and even the Swedish traditional heavy metal bands (Heavy Load & Gotham City). They're a four piece with a very cute blond woman handling the drums (I'm happy we see more women in metal these days and not just operatic chicks in corsets).
While the passion is definitely there and the goods are delivered, this EP lacks something to be truly a beast. Nevertheless, this is s a first offering and the songwriting is quite decent and shows potential. It's very enjoyable, fun and if you like good honest heavy metal you won't be disappointed. There's more strengths than mistakes, really. The band has two very competent guitarists (Sir Shred really does honor to his name in a live setting and Devon Kerr is an awesome front man who can play his share of the leads/riffs). His vocals delivery is similar to his Ontarian brethren in Midnight Malice or the aforementioned Cauldron and it's definitely enjoyable. While not a very powerful vocalist, he has maximum charisma and can hit high notes when the songs are asking for it. He can shine on either faster or midpaced tracks, these later are my favorite songs of the album (Voyager and Savage Avenger). On the other hand, I usually prefer the epic side of traditional metal, I mean I think Harley Davidsons are cool but give me sword and sorcery and I'll be in Valhalla. While I'm talking about this, I think Axxion's lyrical identity is a bit weak, outside of the two more epic tracks, the three others are your typical heavy metal drinking and fucking songs ("Livin' into these crazy nights" or "ride your stallion through the night"). Not that I don't enjoy these kind of songs, but I prefer a certain cultured lyricism, that's why I'm a fan of Manilla Road or Slough Feg, call me a boring snob, I won't mind, I would agree with you. If you want to write a song about sex, find a cool and original subjects like teledildonics or something. I'm also not a big fan of samples in music, not really an important criticism but it must be noted (the one in Crazy Nights annoyed me a bit, I feel it's pausing the momentum of this fast paced and festive song)
The guitars and riffs are very fucking good, but I think the production is a bit weak and muddy, but this little problem will probably be solved in the near future if they ever do a full length, I certainly hope so. The solos are top notch and of the highest caliber in the style (check out the dual leads in Savage Avenger). I wish the bass was louder though, the rhythm section while good is a bit underwhelming compared to the guitars and vocals. Their song structures are rather normal and safe, but this was expected with the style they play. Still, I would to hear them play an epic 8-10 minutes song, they have the blistering solos and songwriting skills to nail something like that.
This 22 minutes release is a strong slab of pure lusty and passionated heavy metal but do they have what it needs to become a forerunner of the style ? Perhaps, they are a very strong live act and their music although catchy and competent needs some refinement. One thing though, this is becoming a saturated market and it's hard to create a fuss in the underground, especially here in Canada. I mean Skull Fist or Striker did it but it's sometimes only luck. Nonetheless, a thing they managed to accomplish here is to grasp the spirit of what heavy metal was in the 80s and what it should be today, I would certainly wear their patch proudly on my new kutte. Canada is still part of the Commonwealth and this NWOBHM inspired release would certainly please Steve Harris, the de facto king of England.