Reviewed: December 1999
Released: 1995, Unisound Records
Joe Sims, the man behind \”Axemaster\”, \”The Awakening\”, and \”Reign\”, sent Metal Rules!! this CD as a warm up to his forthcoming solo CD entitled \”Dream or Nightmare\”. Sims has been the driving force behind these 3 bands since 1985. Axemaster has release 5 full length albums, while The Awakening has 2 CD\’s and Reign has one. Even though these bands had 8 releases in total, only 3 releases are represented on this CD. The common thread amongst all these releases however is the guitar of Joe Sims.
Tracks 1 through 6 are culled from the Axemaster release \”Blessing in the Skies\” which was released in 1987 by Azra Records. The line up for these tunes was Joe Sims-guitar, Christopher Michael-vocals and bass and Brian Henderson-drums. Of these six tracks the opener \”Golgotha\” is by far the best. It opens with a spoken monologue by what seems to be a demon followed by a spine shattering shriek that would make Rob Halford proud. The tune itself is mid tempo with some very cool guitar fills and cleanly picked guitar fill underneath the verses which reaches a time change where the tune starts to rip. Reminiscent of early Iron Maiden. The tune then reverts to its original riff before fading out. All in all a fine song especially considering it was recorded in 1987. Alas, the rest of the tracks from this period do not match the first. Track two \”Blood of the Temple\” tries to live up to its predecessor but its just not as strong a song as the first. The rest are pretty forgettable . The vocals are generally weak as are the arrangements. \”5 Demons (Imperative is their demise)\” is the second Axemaster release from which the next 4 songs are mined. On the whole these tunes are more of the same as those found on the previous release. \”Phantom Curses\” is the highlight of theses 4 tunes. Some nice guitar work on this song but again the rest are forgettable. Finally we get to The Awakening. Sims has again surrounded himself with new band. The four songs from The Awakening are taken from the CD \”Invictus\”. These 4 songs are much more mature than any of the Axemaster tunes and have a much more progressive feel. The highlight of these 4 tunes is \”As the Wind Blows\” This tune features pounding double bass drums which give it a power that the other tunes don’t have. The tunes still suffer from weak vocals which is a definite negative for me.
It was interesting to hear the evolution of Joe Sims from the early Axemaster work to The Awakening tunes from a decade later. The Awakening showed a definite maturity in Sims and his writing skills. This disc was an ok introduction to Joe Sims but I would be more interested in hearing his new solo CD.
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