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Axe Crazy - Ride On The Night

Axe Crazy
Ride On The Night
by Ben Fitts at 07 May 2017, 9:17 AM

The most wonderful thing about good old school Heavy Metal is its pure, energetic joy. Sure, as a genre, it often retreads tired tropes and sometimes has lyrical content that would make anyone not a thirteen year old Tolkien fan cringe, but all of that is beside the point when the sounds of classic heavy metal are executed well. When the music is bursting true joy and gleeful energy, old school metal can melodramatic and outrageous in just the right way, and is always guaranteed to put a smile on your face. That is why is so lamenting to come across an album that displays none of these qualities, as one does on “Ride On The Night”.

“Ride On The Night” is the debut full-length from the Polish quintet AXE CRAZY, following their self-released 2014 EP “Angry Machines”. While “Angry Machines” featured distinct elements of power metal, “Ride On The Night” sees the band content with strict NWOBHM worship, stripping away the more divergent influences heard on the EP. “Ride On The Night” is filled with nimble fretwork, soaring vocals, and well-crafted guitar harmonies, yet fails to be compelling or to do justice to their closely mimicked influences.

Nearly everything wrong with “Ride On The Night” can be realized from the moment that the full band comes arrives on the album’s instrumental opener “March Of The Survivors”. The track’s clichè usage of the most common and basic of military beats says all there is to say about the amount of originality to be found on the album, but even such flagrant triteness can be forgiven when compared to the other problem made apparent at the same moment: a near depressing degree of lacklusterness.

The infectious energy of the bands that influence AXE CRAZY is the style’s most effective trait, and the exact thing that can make is so enjoyable and has given the IRON MAIDENs of the world their legions of devoted fans. But on “Ride On The Night”, that quality is absent, which makes the album, in the end, simply dull. This is most painfully evident on the tracks “Diving Hawkers” and “Take Control”. However, the album does have redeemable qualities.

The guitar playing of both Adrian and Robson Bigos is excellent throughout, particularly in the tight, effective guitar harmonies that one can assume the siblings honed while growing up together. The technical ability displayed in “Driving Hawkers” is jaw dropping, even if it is not a very compelling musical passage, but the brother’s guitar skills are best utilized on the album’s ninth track and possible standout track “Halloween”. The guitar parts on “Halloween” are catchy and well-constructed (as are Michael Skotnicki’s vocals) and track shows off the band’s technical prowess without being gratuitous or sacrificing too much musicality.

The track “Astral Tales Part 1 (Lost In Space)” shows that the band have a decent grasp of dynamics and composing transitions, even if they seldom employ these skills. The production on “Ride On The Night” leaves much to be desired, and may be a contributing factor to album’s energy feeling so flat. But between the clear need for better production, their obvious technical skills and relatively young age, AXE CRAZY is far from a lost cause as a project. However, if the band wants to ever create something truly compelling, they need to find their own voice and sound, opposed to simply creating pale imitations of heavy metal past.

Songwriting: 4
Originality: 2
Memorability: 3
Production: 4

1 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. March Of The Survivor
2. Ride On The Night
3. Take Control
4. Guardians Of The Light
5. Astral Tales Part 1 , (Lost In Space)
6. Diving Hawkers
7. Magic Power
8. Halloween
9. Astral Tales Part 2 (Star Force) 
Lineup:
Michael Skotnicki - Vocals
Daniel Czupryn - Bass
Andrzej Heczko - Drums
Robson Bigos - Guitars, Vocals
Adrian Bigos - Guitars, Vocals    
Record Label: No Remorse Records
     


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