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Heavy Metal Sanctuary
Released: 2014, SPV/Steamhammer
Battleaxe is part of a long line of semi-forgotten NWOBHM warriors; forming in 1979, the band released two well-regarded albums, BURN THIS TOWN, and POWER FROM THE UNIVERSE as well as a live album in the early ‘80s before disappearing into the heavy metal ether. The band raised its head briefly in 2005 to release an EP of tunes recorded in 1987. It’s been all silence since then but the band, featuring original members Dave King (vocals) and Brian Smith (bass) have reunited and this year have released their first album of new material in 30 years (!). That’s pretty cool if you ask me.
From the opening salvo of the title track, HEAVY METAL SANCTUARY is pure old school NWOBHM goodness. The band has employed a crisp & clear production sound that is still lovably lo-fi. Dave King’s high pitched vocals sail clearly over top of the music, accentuating his typical tales of fantasy, battle, and heavy metal. As for the music, it is exactly what you hear in your head when someone mentions bands like Saxon, Tokyo Blade, or Jaguar: no frills, straight up and honest heavy metal. Guitarist Mick Percy proves himself a talented and tasty guitarist with both memorable riffs and solos.
Although the album is packed with head banging tracks, there are a couple of too standard filler songs that could have used a trim (“Romeo”, “Give It More”), but the band really seems to find an extra gear in the latter half of the album with some excellent metallic anthems, particularly “A Prelude to Battle / The Legions Unite” and “Devil Calls” which have the most insidious riffs on the album. By the end of the album, any little flaws are forgiven as the band wins the day with blue-collar heavy metal power and honesty.
I don’t know if Battleaxe is back for the long haul, or if HEAVY METAL SANCTUARY is a one-off album but either way, the band can be proud that they’ve left us fans with a top-shelf slab of metal.
1. Heavy Metal Sanctuary
2. Shock & Awe
3. Hail to the King
4. Rebel with a Cause
5. Give It More
6. Too Hot For Hell
8. A Prelude to Battle / The Legions Unite
9. Spirits of the Fallen
10. Devil Calls
11. Kingdom Come
Dave King: Vocals
Mick Percy: Guitar
Brian Smith: Bass
Paul A.T. Kinson: Drums
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