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Articles Home » 2012 Articles » Lillian Axe - 2012 XI: The Days Before Tomorrow
 
Lillian Axe - 2012 XI: The Days Before Tomorrow



ARTIST: Lillian Axe
ALBUM: XI: The Days Before Tomorrow
LABEL: AFM Records
SERIAL: AFM 401-2
YEAR: 2012

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Brian Jones - vocals * Steve Blaze - guitar, vocals * Sam Poitevent - guitar, vocals * Eric Morris - bass * Ken Koudelka - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Babylon * 02 Death Comes Tomorrow * 03 Gather Up The Snow * 04 The Great Divide * 05 Take The Bullet * 06 Bow Your Head * 07 Caged In * 08 Soul Disease * 09 Lava On My Tongue * 10 My Apologies * 11 Angels Among Us (European Bonus)

RATING:

WEBLINKS: www.lillianaxe.com


Background
Louisiana band Lillian Axe have polarised many listeners in the hard rock scene over the years. An 80's after-thought, with a couple of great albums between 1988 and 1993, it seems the band's more recent releases ('Waters Rising', 'Sad Day On Planet Earth' and 'Deep Red Shadows') have not inspired confidence among fussy listeners looking for something rewarding. We reviewed their 2007 album 'Waters Rising' a few years back, and what was mentioned there wasn't that complimentary to be honest. Thankfully, there is no carbon-copy trace of that review to be repeated here, 'The Days Before Tomorrow' I found to be quite deep, and.. well constructed. The band, still led by guitarist Stevie Blaze, have bought in a new singer Brian Jones, who has since replaced Derrick LeFevre. I'm not quite convinced that his voice is the ideal replacement, but the band seem to be confident in his ability to deliver what is required, so who am I to question? LL's sound is trademark heavy metal with a European vibe, but I'm also hearing some prog metal filtering through the mix, which (for me) makes it more of an interesting proposition. Lyrically, LL have been known to come up with some thoughtful and insightful material, and that continues here. But the key is the tag-team guitar work of Blaze and Sam Poitevent, the twin guitars working effectively throughout.


The Songs
'Babylon' - guitars spiralling out control are the pre-text to this song. I'll admit that giving this one a few listens have helped reinforce this album in my headspace. I like the melodic bridge which gives Jones an opportunity to soar, but the backing vocals on the chorus don't quite work. Still it's a reasonable start.

'Death Comes Tomorrow' - this is without doubt my favourite track on the album. The brutal rhythm guitars are relentless when the power switch is set to on. Jones' vocal moves in a similar space to singers working in the context of prog metal, and it sounds good all round. A good reference point would be the latest Dream Theater without the keyboard overload.

'Gather Up The Snow' - I didn't like this one so much, the guitar tone sort of spoilt it for me, making it sound like a modern metal workout, a song without a lot of personality it must be said.

'The Great Divide' - the theme of this song would be familiar to fans of LL's earlier albums. The riffs and arrangement are a trademark of the band, no doubt due to Blaze's influence. The tempo is constantly hard driving on this one, drummer Ken Koudelka is a stand out here.

'Take The Bullet' - apart from the dopey machine gun sound effect in the beginning, this one races along at a good clip. The production sounds flatter here, noticeable when you compare it to other tracks on the album, and the other thing to mention is how much this has 80's metal tagged to it. Sort of like Virgin Steele meets Fifth Angel. I like it.

'Bow Your Head' - a glorious acoustic entrance precedes this power-ballad come rocker, a really good track, which combines melody and restrained power, Jones again breathes life into this 5 minutes of excellence.

'Caged In' - Lillian Axe revert to a more primal metal style for this one. I'm certain this track will get a few heads banging in the aisles, though there are few interesting production inserts that give it an odd appearance, but still, it's OK.

'Soul Disease' - I like the traditional 80's backbeat on this one, hard driving intensity mostly, good without setting the house on fire.

'Lava On My Tongue' - the machine like guitar riffs that populate this song gives it a modern touch, sort of like British band Balance Of Power. It's industrial based heavy metal but without the empty and soulless soundscape.

'My Apologies' - this is another goodie, an acoustic/electric hybrid which navigates through highs and lows, ebbs and flows. Not quite 'Ghosts Of Winter' but the intent was there.. I'm sure.

'Angels Among Us' - is a bonus track for the European market. An instrumental, which has a significant quieter passage through the middle, which then finishes up with a huge crecsendo of Dream Theater like proportions.. big double kick drums, spacey keyboard effects and of course that twin guitar attack.


In Summary
The album cover is a feature point. I like it, though it borrows heavily from the House Of Lords theme, the heraldry insignia which they've used successfully for a number of years now. The band have now signed to German label AFM Records, where a likely push into the European markets could be considered, away from an indifferent market back home in the U.S. Also of note, Lillian Axe will appear at the 2012 Firefest, which is one of the major reasons for reviewing this album in the first place, giving melodic rock punters an idea of what to expect later in the year. Don't be fooled into thinking this is a write-off. It's much better than people give it credit for, though admittedly far from the giddy heights of 'Love + War' and 'Poetic Justice'. Seeing as everyone has moved on now, a band like Lillian Axe can't be expected to ressurrect their sound from twenty years ago. What would be the point in that? Go and take a listen, you might just come away pleasantly surprised. I was.


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Comments
#1 | gdazegod on February 12 2012 08:50:55
The album is being released in the USA and Canada on Feb 14, through CME Records. Singles being released to the market include 'Lava On My Tongue' and 'Caged In'.
 
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