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Music Review: Waters Rising – Lillian Axe

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After the first few minutes of Lillian Axe’s new CD, Waters Rising, you’ll swear you’re back in the metal days of yore, the glorious mid-1980s. This recording is loaded with nostalgic heavy riffs and nebulous lyrics – all the trappings of good metal.

The band was formed during the magical years of ’84 and ’85, though they never gained the same recognition other bands of the era received. In fact, some of us can just barely remember that they were a band back in the day. But they were, and decent at that. Steve Blaze is still performing guitar duties and the work is very potent. He also handles songwriting duties and is very effective at that as well.

The title track of the album, “Waters Rising”, is a proud specimen of Lillian Axe metal. It’s swollen with attitude drenched riffs which beget the head banging gesticulation of all good metal-heads. It has a powerful bass presence (which is true of the entire album) and vocals that lend an epic tone to the lyrics. It also has the benefit of a great, soaring solo.

“Antarctica” and “Become A Monster” are the next two tracks and they both showcase the epic sound that permeates Lillian Axe’s songs. Thunderous drums and lumbering bass lines provide a contagious groove for both pieces. The latter song features a fun intro: a screeching guitar that mimics the shredding talons of a metal monster. It’s just cool.

Also featured are some ballads, ala Extreme, Mr. Big and even Queensryche. The ballads aren’t as fluffy as the first two band’s, though not quite as effective as the latter. “Fields of Yesterday” is the best of these ballads and indeed is the most beautifully arranged song of the entire record. It begins with sentimental orchestration, reminiscent of a sad summer day, the kind of day when you suffer your first heartbreak. The vocals show some real emotion on this track, thickening the sentiment of the sound and the passion of the lyrics. A wonderfully subdued guitar solo concludes the experience. This song seems like the centerpiece.

Lillian Axe also includes an instrumental and that’s cool to see again on a metal album. It’s a superbly menacing song, with a definite chainsaw grind and, once again, a lumbering yet operatic power. Instrumentals always show off the importance of the guitar riff to metal. Throw away the vocals and the wicked lyrics and the spectacle – it’s the unity of guitar, bass and drum that drives metal.

Waters Rising is a fine album with well arranged and executed songs. It’s definitely worth checking out. It releases July 17th. More information can be found at the band’s web page.

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