Axe Crazy are back, and not a moment too soon! Hexbreaker is the follow up to the outstanding full-length debut Ride on the Night and while there have been a few behind the scenes changes the spirit is well and truly still there.
Originating from Ledziny in southern Poland, Axe Crazy have mastered the art of what is now called the New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal. Their music has power, pace and melody in abundance, a real treat for the ears.
In what seems to be an example of strange timing, Axe Crazy parted ways with vocalist Michael Skotnicki earlier this year, prior to the recording of Hexbreaker. Fortunately his replacement Tomasz Swidrak has filled the gap beautifully. He is not too dissimilar to Skotnicki and is often reminiscent of Helloween’s Michael Kiske, especially when the European accent comes through.
Another change comes with the departure of drummer Andrzej Heczko but that was not until after the recording of the album. He has been replaced by Tymoteusz Ciach and it will be interesting to see how he fits in, although it may be a while before we find out.
The stalwarts and only ever-presents are Adrian and Robson Bigos on guitars who once again deliver the goods with great rhythm and lead work. You know you’re in for a treat from the get-go and the storming riffs of “Under Command”.
The final piece of the jigsaw comes with solid bassman Daniel Czupryn, who maintains the drive throughout Hexbreaker.
Ride on the Night was clearly influenced by Iron Maiden but on Hexbreaker this is not as obvious. I feel there are strains of power metal coming through and the influence is more early Helloween than anything else.
There is plenty of variety to keep you interested in the album. There are fist in the air homages to metal such as “Ritual of Steel/Fuel for Life” and “Heavy Metal Power Force” alongside keep-the-faith anthems like “Out of the Darkness” and “Never Look Back”.
Following on from the two-part “Astral Tales” of Ride on the Night there is another two-parter in “Walpurgis Tales”. For those of us not in the know, Walpurgis Night (in German folklore) is the night before the feast day of St Walpurgis when witches congregate. Hence the titles “Witches’ Treasure” and “The Legend of Stormwitch”.
Whatever the themes or tales of the tracks I do know that each and every track hits the spot. The pace is great and all the solos are superbly fitting, especially on “Out of the Darkness” where it is exquisite.
‘Second album syndrome’ is often talked about but thankfully this affliction is nowhere to be seen. Hexbreaker is a quality metal album very much up there with their debut. Well done guys!
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