Axxis - 'Retrolution'

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Axxis - 'Retrolution'

There's plenty to enjoy here.

Axxis have been a favourite of mine since the wonderful knock-out combination of 'Kingdom Of The Night' and 'II' way back in 1989/1990. Admittedly, my interest waned after the woeful 'Voodoo Vibes' in 1997, but 'Kingdom Of The Night II' ended up as my personal "Album Of The Year" in 2014! So anticipation of their new album 'Retrolution' was very high from yours truly.

First thing to note is that long-standing guitarist Marco Wreidt has left, ostensibly to concentrate on his own band 21Octayne, being replaced by Stefan Weber (Lion Twin), but with song-writing duties held almost exclusively under the auspices of keyboardist Harry Oellers and vocalist Bernhard Weiss, continuity was all but guaranteed.

'Retrolution' is a combination of the words "retro" and "revolution", the idea being that the band would be creating their own tribute to the trend for revisiting and celebrating the past, going as far to work with much vintage equipment in the recording studio.

The riff to opening song 'Burn! Burn! Burn!' could have come straight from the movie 'The Blues Brothers', almost acting as a statement of intent, but within seconds, rather than sacrifice the song on the altar of retro worship, the band kick in to deliver a typical foot-stomping Axxis Rocker!

And that word "typical" may be the band's Achilles heel on this release, because despite living with this album for weeks, in the main the songs have failed to resonate in my soul as they did on their previous album. For sure, Weber is a wonderful guitarist and I much prefer his more melodic approach compared to his predecessor, and it's wonderful to hear great Hammond Organ ln 'Heavy Metal Brother', but generally the choruses seem to be lacking that something special this time around. For sure there is still plenty to enjoy here, and 'Dream Chaser' and ballad 'Queen Of The Wind' are two gloriously melodic songs that stand out.

I suppose it's a bit like the Leicester City effect. One unexpectedly brilliant season/album simply raises expectations for the following season/release, and when those are not met then the fans can be disappointed, rather than see the reality for what it is. In this case, 'Retrolution' is a damn fine album, but just like Leicester City's season this year, it must be seen as somewhat of a step backwards when compared to previous glories.

Wolf Gant

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