Oh man, I love it when a band comes along like they stepped out of a time portal from the 80s. And in the case of Battleaxe (formed in 1979), they basically did just that. Having put out their last full studio album 30 years ago they certainly have the pedigree of an English heavy metal band from the greatest decade of heavy metal ever.
Right off the bat - vocalist Dave King, sounding like a cross between Udo Dirkschneider, Rob Halford and Brian Johnson - sets the tone with the title track, Heavy Metal Sanctuary. From there, the tunes come at you rapid-fire, awash in the familiar lyrical content of the military industrial complex and rebellion. It's not gonna break any molds or break new ground, but some stuff should be left for thems that wants it. Battleaxe is just here to crank some metal. This is what Rags often refers to as meat-and-potatoes metal, and it's nothing to sneeze at.
This is the kind of stuff modern metal was built on, and these lads are champions of an era not forgotten. Now, there's the occasional tune, like Hail To The King, whose opening riff sounds very familiar (Dio's Stand Up And Shout comes to mind), but I think it's really more of a case of music sort of coming full circle than any kind of rip-off. Either way, there's a conviction here amongst the riffage that can't be denied, and it's great to see bands from bygone days still putting out good material. This is just the kind of band where people generally split into one of two camps: those that think this is all just treading the same water, and those that fondly remember a legendarty era in metal. Which one do you fall in?
The Bottom Line: This band is flying the flag of classic 80s-era metal, something they know a lot about, and fans of that sound should find much to like in this no-frills approach. Check out Battleaxe and know why Britain will always be known as the birthplace of metal!
- Genghis needs a nice left-handed Gibson SG and a Marshall stack...