Released: 2011, Icewarrior
It’s been four+ long years since the last Axenstar album. In fact this was done in 2008 and is only seeing the light of day in January of this year. Oddly enough, despite this being the bands fifth album, this is the site first review of an Axenstar album. I think more people need to know about this excellent Swedish Power Quartet. Formed from the ashes of Powerage back in the late 90’s these guys have churned out some very high quality, consistently good Power Metal.
Although the band has been around for many years now they have struggled at times now with yet more line-up changes and a drop from the Massacre label to an indie. Vocalist and bassist Magnus Winterwild is the main dude and has been for years and has seen 10 or more dudes pass through the ranks, and while these constant line-up shuffles have contributed to changes in the bands style, the song-writing quality has always been consistent.
AFTERMATH is no exception from the double bass driven opening cut of ‘Dogs of War’ to the bonus track ‘Bad Blood’ there is not a bad song on the album. Axenstart is quite smooth, the guitar tone isn’t too gritty and there are a smattering of keyboards to add layers and textures to some of the songs. The whole album has some really nice pace ranging from mid-tempo to fast on almost the entire album. Even the slower songs like ‘Agony’ are driven along a quick double-kick pace.
Overall, this album is a little darker, heavier and faster perhaps than the last couple, but those are very subtle distinction, made only perhaps by fans who are intimately familiar with the bands catalogue. Magnus’ vocals are still in the higher range but certainly not operatic in any sense. The songs are all catchy and a good sense of melody with some under-stated and sophisticated soloing.
Trivia hounds take note: AFTERMATH is the first Axenstar album cover that does not have an angel on the front! New members, a new label, a new slightly rougher look and sound, this may be the album that catches the ear of a few more Metal fans.