Incidentally, I was meant to go on a stag party to Krakow a while back but it was decided in the end to go to Prague instead where the beer was twice the price but flights £10 cheaper. Go figure…
Anyway, back to matters in hand. Ride On The Night, out on No Remorse, is Axe Crazy’s debut full-length album following an EP release, Angry Machines, and several appearances on heavy metal compilations.
The band is named after the song by NWOBHM forerunners Jaguar and you can definitely pick up that era’s influence in their music.
Ride On The Night, however, is simply not an exercise in balls-out metal mayhem, it is much more than that. It has pace and power in spades but also has rhythm, melody, and thoughtful well-constructed songs.
We open with the obligatory instrumental, “March Of The Survivors”, which, after a bout of noise, is very reminiscent of Iron Maiden’s “The Ides Of March”, though without the world class solo.
We first encounter vocalist Michael Skotnicki on the album’s title track. He is a very interesting individual in that he perfectly replicates vocals of the NWOBHM era. His voice is just strong enough for metal but would not score highly on the power-o-meter. This, however, means that he doesn’t overpower the songs, merely complements them. On occasion, he also sounds like he would fit nicely into a 70’s prog rock group. Versatility, can’t knock it. “Ride On The Night” is indeed a belting track with galloping riffs and screaming solo.
Hot on its heels comes “Take Control” with its Maiden-esque intro and general Maiden feel but more 1983/4 than 1980.
Thunderous drumming courtesy of Andrzej Heczko welcomes us to “Guardians Of The Light” and he doesn’t let up throughout. The break in this track is a belter with the twin rhythm guitars of Adrian Bigos and Robson Bigos going at it hammer and tongs.
“Astral Tales Part 1” begins with some beautiful guitaring which leads into a really catchy song. The pace is exceptional as is the solo, which perfectly fits with the two guitarists sharing the duties.
Punch-in-the-guts drumming and riffing are the order of the day on “Diving Hawkers” which rattles along at a fair lick but not too fast for my foot to keep up, excellent stuff.
A change of pace is up next with “Magic Power”. It moves effortlessly between guitaring befitting of a top notch ballad and gang vocal chants. Sounds odd but Axe Crazy pull it off.
The foot tapping and head nodding continue on “Halloween” which is another cracking track. All the tracks are well paced, don’t run away with themselves and are superbly executed.
We finish all too quickly with “Astral Tales Part 2” which is a great way to finish. A rollicking romp of a track, fast and heavy with another fabulous solo.
This is a great album to kick off the new year. It is perfect for those of a traditional metal persuasion and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Axe Crazy? I know I am.