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Axxelerator - Heads Or Tails

Heads Or Tails
by Mark Machlay at 04 November 2021, 9:24 AM

After a bit of time off after some personnel changes the Swiss four-piece thrash metal band AXXELERATOR have returned with their sophomore full-length “Heads or Tails” released in late September of this year. Not to be confused with a similarly named death/thrash band also from Switzerland, AXXELERATOR originally formed under the name RUST in 2009, but changed their name in 2010 to its current moniker. The group quickly gained notoriety for clearly dedicating themselves to the old-school Bay Area Thrash scene of the 1980s, but also daring to experiment with other genres of the heavy metal variety, leading to comparisons to bands such as METALLICA, EXODUS, and the NWOBHM. Rather than dull, bludgeoning riffs, they opt for catchy, hook-filled and varied riffs as the motto for the Lucerne-based band. After the release of their EP “Soulcatcher” in 2015, the band went out on the live circuit to support the release with several successful gigs around Switzerland.

Unfortunately, due to line-up changes involving original members such as bassist Jerry Stoneham leaving in 2017 and guitarist Mäthe Moser leaving in 2018, the band took some time off. Fortunately, they were able to gain Chrisoph Widmer on bass fairly quickly with guitarist Wigi filling in on live guitar before gaining permanent member Shane Hill. The band, however, never gave up, soldiering on and AXXELERATOR has returned in 2021 with a fresh line-up, label support and a new debut full-length record “Heads Or Tails”. This debut was released through their new partnership with Allegro Talent Media and showcases the band stronger and more eager to play than ever. The band has released two singles from the album the fiery and unrelenting “Living with Nuclear Neighbours” and the more epic, heady, longer playing track “Paradise Lost” showing two very different sides of the band.

Musically, “Heads Or Tails” is very a strong and tightly produced record that reminds me of records of the past if they were released in the modern age. The album opens with the plodding and crunchy instrumental prelude “Gates of Ur” with guitar leads swirling over like vultures and goes straight into the title track “Heads or Tails” with a suitably fiery opening into rhythmic styles that remind me of “No Remorse” from METALLICA’s first album “Kill ‘Em All”. In fact much of the album reminds me of the rawness of that first album with production that matches that of their most recent “Hardwired…to Self-Destruct”. I enjoy Valentin Rast’s vocal style as it seems like a nice mix of Mustaine’s snarl with Hetfield’s attitude but unfortunately doesn’t seem to have much range. I should also mention that while Dave Duss is, thankfully a much more competent drummer than Lars Ulrich, the kick drum triggering really stands out on the record as being really clean but also a bit static and dull sounding. The band really demonstrates their speed metal side on “Living with Nuclear Neighbours” and the appropriately titled while surprisingly fun “Speedcrew”, they also demonstrate a great grasp on their melodic and almost proggy side on “Paradise Lost”. It’s a decent start and a welcome return to the galloping and creative riffwork of the Bay Area Thrash scene and I hope they can only improve with this new fresh lineup on their follow-up.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Gates of Ur
2. Heads or Tails
3. Signs of the Idol
4. Living with Nuclear Neighbours
5. Speedcrew
6. Paradise Lost
7. The West & The Rest
8. Skye on Fire
9. Starwinds
10. Violent Crowd
11. Here Comes the Pain Patrol
Valentin Rast – Guitars & Vocals
Shane Hill – Guitars & Vocals
Dave Duss – Drums
Christoph Widmer – Bass
Record Label: Allegro Talent Media


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Edited 29 January 2023

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