Monday, October 23, 2017

Full Length Review: AXEMASTER Crawling Chaos

Crawling Chaos
Release date: November 24, 2017
Guitarist Joe Sims emailed me an advance copy of Axemaster’s upcoming full length Crawling Chaos after reading my review of Black Dungeons, a track appearing on their recent anthology Blessing In The Skies (And Other Cuts From The Chamber). As this song was first released on an early demo of theirs Sims wanted to know my thoughts on their newest material. Given my expanding inclination toward reading H.P. Lovecraft’s writings, Noël Puente’s cover artwork depicting a reawakened Cthulhu wreaking havoc on society was my first attraction. The immediate threat to civilization and the resulting panic among the people boasts an aura of impending doom on a global scale much like Nuclear Assault, Megadeth, Tankard and Destruction had in that crucial first decade of thrash metal. The polished and meticulous expertise of Puente’s artwork reflects the artwork done for the countless number of present day thrash bands. Axemaster composed ten songs for inclusion on Crawling Chaos which reflect their years of experience as an active band through all their lineup changes, disbandings, reformations, and so on. You can hear how it has weathered and matured their sound. Their biting thrash crunch and classic flavor is still present but the open, untamed energy of their early days has given way to studious songwriting delivered with slow tempos and riffs written with forethought, showing more in common with Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Manowar. Things get to a solid start with 10,000 Pound Hammer but Crawling Chaos doesn’t really get moving until the third track. By then those slower riffs I mentioned begin to grow on you. Axes Of Evil is particularly haunting with its carnivalesque lead guitar work and the bell effect recorded over the chord progressions. Flowers For The Dead is another song assuming a haunting tone. The vocals of guitarist Geoff McGraw are as hypnotic and mesmerizing as the music behind them. It’s as if Alice In Chains ingested copious amounts of acid and peyote and spawned a song like this. The brief interlude Mystify The Dream Hypnotic continues in this style with inventive guitars. The second half of the album takes heavier and darker turns as Aldar Rof sounds heavily inspired by Manowar, Shallow Grave is built on the concept of a metal ballad (without the pleasantries usually associated with it) and Death Before Dishonor is strongly tied to the band’s inspiration from Black Sabbath. The solos are tightened next to the demo track I reviewed the other day. And again I only have one complaint, about the production that tended to sound too thin for the material. Musically there has been a world of improvement on Axemaster’s part and I hope they continue in the direction in which they’re heading. -Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. 10,000 Pound Hammer
2. Crawling Chaos
3. Axes Of Evil
4. Flowers For The Dead
5. Mystify The Dream Hypnotic
6. Aldar Rof
7. Shallow Grave
8. Death Before Dishonor
9. Bravado
10. Knight Of Pain

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