Axxis
Utopia

Well known to European fans of Melodic Metal, Axxis are still somewhat obscure in American metal circles, even though the guys have been keeping their vessel afloat for more than two decades now. Having gone through ups and downs, the band has stood the test of time and remained loyal to its musical credo, which lies in the propaganda of traditional Hard’n’Heavy values fused with conventional Hard Rock and early Power Metal influences. However, Axxis are not just another act copying someone else’s ideas and not delivering a musical message of their own. They are in fact quite recognizable and inimitable by any other contemporaries of this scene. The songs of Axxis are always elegant, well-aimed and swift, like a grenadiers bayonet striking deep into your heart at the very first lunge. Mainly upbeat and radiant with optimism and vigor, they are pretty simple in structure yet opulent in splendid arrangements and tunes which will run in your head long after you push the stop button.

The twelfth studio album, Utopia obviously gains its momentum from its two successful predecessors, Paradise In Flames and Doom Of Destiny, which presented the band varying their sound with more sophisticated vocal inclusions and symphonic elements. Following the omnipresent symphonic intro, the curtain rises and the title track sees the band in full possession of hurricane-like rhythms, delirious yet well-measured lead onslaughts, beautiful piano infusions and emotive vocal performance from leader and singer Bernhard Weiss. The female back-up choir is slightly veiled yet adds some unique charm to the song. “Last Man On Earth” continues with the shotgun approach of its predecessor, though cutting power a bit and showing even more symphonic splendor. “Fass Mich An” , translated as ‘touch me’, is sung in German but doesn’t break the overall swiftness of the album featuring some weird sonic effects, Bernard’s most ardent singing, and firework soloing from guitarist Marco Wriedt. “Sarah Wanna Die” is another rapid fire number with plenty of lead breaks and another glowing guitar solo.

The ballad “My Father’s Eyes” allows some brief respite, offering up a beautiful multi-layered chorus amid a massive wall of guitars and keyboards. The solemn movement and hardly audible growling choir of “The Monsters Crawl” throws in some versatility to the performance albeit this term doesn’t quite agree with the band’s one-dimensional style. “Eyes Of A Child” starts with a thick guitar onrush which is carried on further into the song, backed up by magnificent vocal lines and all sorts of soloing. The short yet imposing bass lick towards the end of the track is especially good. “Heavy Rain” is measurably fast, yet can’t compete with the album’s overall vortex-like movement. The chorus of the song is quite spectacular due to its strong melody and mellow singing keyboards. “For You I Will Die” is my least favourite and was also somewhat confusing since I had a difficult time getting used to its numerous spastic breaks and brusque techno-style synths. Thankfully, “Underworld” resumes the album’s normal course, bringing back speed, stability and their signature ‘in your face’ melodic style. Working up to the finale of the disc are two bonus tracks, “Taste My Blood” and “20 Years Anniversary Song”, both of which are truly Axxis born and bred, though perhaps would have been more appropriate for the band’s earlier, rawer and more guitar-oriented works.

While I agree with some critics that Bernhard’s voice is a matter of taste, I for one find it irreplaceable and the very moving force which makes Axxis what it is. I’m glad that the man still finds enough motivation and strength to unite the guys around his composing talent and create one solid album after another. No doubt, Utopia is easily one of their strongest offerings and a mandatory purchase for their fans. For all others, it’s about time to finally stop searching for yet another utopian Melodic band for your collection and give these Deutschlanders a well-deserved chance

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Igor Stakh
October 9th, 2009

Comments

  1. Commented by: Blackwater Park

    Wow, I guess I should pay more attention to these guys!


  2. Commented by: ceno

    Sure as hell!


  3. Commented by: Blackwater Park

    Just listened to it this morning, and you’re right! This is REALLY good!!!


Leave a Reply

Due to the nature of the human race, all first posts are to be moderated. Don't whine about the delay. This is not a democracy.

  • River of Souls - The Well of Urd
  • Bloodlust - At the Devil's Left Hand
  • Lifeless - The Occult Mastery
  • Phrenelith - Desolate Endscape
  • Bell Witch - Mirror Reaper
  • Sinmara - Within the Weaves of Infinity EP
  • Longhouse - II:Vanishing
  • Archspire - Relentless Mutation
  • Eruption - Cloaks of Oblivion
  • The Black Dahlia Murder - Nightbringers
  • Witch Vomit - Poisoned Blood EP
  • Lo-Ruhamah - Anointing
  • Satan's Dealer - Dealer Of The Gods
  • Iron Reagan - Crossover Ministry
  • Septicflesh - The Codex Omega