1. The Fallen One 2. Under Black Wings 3. Salvation 4. Inside Your Head 5. Daydreamer 6. Drifting 7. The Burning 8. Run Or Hide
Axenstar is definitely not your average Swedish power metal band. With groups like Dream Evil and Hammerfall carrying on in fine metal tradition, Axenstar really mix it up a bit more. With more of a melodic feel to their delivery, this young group have established quite an impressive early catalogue. With two monumental records in the books with the likes of "Perpetual Twilight" (2002) and "Far From Heaven" (2003), Axenstar return to action again with quite possibly their best release to date, the rather clever full-length "The Inquisition", released in May through Spain's Arise Records.
I guess what really makes this band's music so catchy and addictive is their immense knowledge of melodic hooks and memorable leads. These guys are just simply talented, with plenty of musical ability to take their skills to the next level, and with one rung at a time they have climbed the ladder, with this record being their most mature effort. "The Inquisition" is absolutely fabulous from start to finish, with eight tracks of melodic power metal captured in grand fashion. Metal fans can rejoice with this new record, which in my opinion may have the year's best album cover courtesy of artist Toxic Angel. But looking beyond the fine packaging comes a very entertaining release, one that will please fans of Lost Horizon and Steel Attack.
With tracks like "Daydreamer" and "Under Black Wings" the band show off their unique sense of melody, really capturing that 80s new wave vibe but at the same time keeping a more modern approach as well. Think of the Finnish power metal feel mixed with the traditional aspect and you will arrive at the Axenstar sound. What makes them different from everyone else? Well I honestly think the catchy hooks and melody that the band comes up with carries them so much further than today's average power metal band. Really they perform in the same fashion as another Swedish act, Crystal Eyes. Both bands seem to have that huge melodic feel, with tons of lead work and twin guitar. With cuts like "The Fallen One" the band even showcase a more aggressive side, with stomp riffs mixed into the formula. Along with the ability to play mid-tempo hooks comes a speedier side as well, evident on "The Burning" and "Salvation", both of which display an amazing ability to distribute melodic, speedy power metal. The album ends with the epic number "Run Or Hide", a lengthy piece that again shows off the faster side of the band as well as the more progressive elements.
Cheers - The band's commitment to simply stay in the melodic metal avenue. Even though they rely on some keyboards for effect, the band never get caught up in the full progressive mode. Axenstar retains their power but still keeps the album diverse and interesting with so much melody coming forth.
Jeers - I wish the album was longer. We get eight tracks here but "Drifting" is simply a short ballad that doesn't really hold my attention.
Summary - A must have for anyone into traditional, classic, or power metal. Axenstar are a young band but at this point you have to consider them veterans. This is a fine effort and one that will hopefully get more fans and press in the metal community talking. I would really like to see this group get offered a gig at Prog Power in the USA. Fantasy show for me would be Axenstar, Crystal Eyes, and Lost Horizon.
About this Writer: Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has served as senior editor for MaximumMetal.com for nearly 10 years and is the author of the heavy metal book series--Denim & Letters. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia.
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