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Toothless and confused - 50%

ElectricEye, March 4th, 2007

This was the second Axxis album I heard, the first being the excellent "Back to the kingdom". With the strangely un-metallic cover and title, I was afraid of something "tribal", a la Sepultura's last five insults to humanity. Luckily, that wasn't to be, although the album has massive shortcomings in other departments. One of them is songwriting.

First two songs are absolutely dreadful. "Helena" is not fit to be a Micronesian bonus track, let alone a fuckin' lead cut! The title track is also a straight ("or should I say...") filler, and both are about as powerful as milk on the rocks. I guess "melodic metal" fits the bill so far, but so does "Hitz for kidz".

Third up is the happy "Fly away". It sure is as cheesy as the preceding tunes, and I can imagine many people hating it immensely, though there's something about it that just puts a smile on my face. It's upbeat silliness is really over the top for a metal album, but I think it's honest. Overall, cute.

Next comes the completely different "Sarajevo". A very somber tune, slow and atmospheric, classical instruments, great backing vocals - we have a winner! Then, halfway through the song, a set of R'N'B/HIP HOP/DISCO drums outrageously enters the song and stays for the duration! This just completely deflates the slowly amassed power, and butchers what could haven't been a monster track into just a good song. Had it not been for that (and the fact that Axxis' lyrics are some of the worst in all of metal), it wouldn't be at all off on Savatage's phenomenal concept album "Dead winter dead" on the same topic. What in the hell were they thinking?! It's one thing if it actually fits the concept (See: Judas Priest - "Blood red skies"), but here it comes off as a total brain drain.

From that point, the drum machine, along with a host of other weird, synthetic sounds, makes mindless random appearances throughout the remainder of the album, at the most inapproriate of times (i.e. at all). Here, the songcraft also quickly spirals into oblivion. The last two-thirds of the album are utterly forgettable. "World of mystery" and "Spider" are somewhat above average, but, more like "competent fillers" than something I'll ever bother to come back to. Can't even remember 'em as I write this.

Another thing is that the album relies heavily on contrasts. Many songs have a very soft - non-existent, even - verse, that supposedly "erupts" come chorus time. Only, they lack the energy to actually carry this out. The "guitar assaults" that ensue in the bridges/choruses are no heavier than any other glam band at their sappiest. The end result is counter-productive, as it only highlights the band's inability to "rock". More than once did I think, "Wow, was a lame attempt at lashing out, or what?!". When they stick to the strict balladeering, at least they don't embarrass themselves as OVERTLY.

But with all said, the main problem with this record is that it lacks direction, and corollary, edge. The band has no clue what they want to play - be it rocking metal, melodic metal, atmospheric metal, or even "disco metal", and most songs fall somewhere between two chairs. Hence they don't really succeed at conveying anything. The rocking stuff lacks punch, the melodic stuff lacks emotion, the atmospheric moments are raped by synthetic elements, and the disco just fuckin' sucks all around. And the air breathes heavily of cheese the full 50 minutes.

Nah, check out "Back to the kingdom" instead. It is not frightfully heavy either, but it's far more focused, with some heart in the music, and of course, one of the greatest metal songs ever made - "Shadowman"!

This is pretty much expendable.