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Lillian Axe: Deep Red Shadows

Fans of the band Lillian Axe are sure to celebrate the bands newest release Deep Red Shadows because it is not only a handful of new tunes composed by guitarist Steve Blaze but it is also part acoustic EP with four of the numbers being stripped down songs from across the bands catalog. It begins with "Under The Same Moon" which has a pretty solid groove to it and a chorus that for some reason reminded me of Saigon Kick. Its funny how one incredibly overlooked band is reminding me of another one but I digress. There are big things going on in the music with this one and if you remember their last release Sad Day On Planet Earth you will recall how the band is no longer a Glam Slam outfit and more of a Progressive Melodic Rock enterprise at times and capable of twisting and turning your brain with tasteful riffs and melody. "47 Ways To Die" might be a fast favorite for many based on how it drives but I had to lend preferential treatment to the bands epic "A Minute Of Years" because there is just so much going on with this one. It begins slow and reaches a crescendo only to bring you on the ride of your life. Blaze is cooking with the guitar on this one and is to be commended for his ability. As you complete these few numbers you will likely be scratching your head wondering how you had never heard more about them over the years but in truth some of Hard Rock's best talent has remained in the underground scene. It's a shame, but only finds them supported all the more strongly by those who believe in their musical cause. It's high time to rally the troops my friends.

When the album reaches track five, it's a revisit to the bands Glam Rock time of recording and also a re-presentation of some of their other classics from across a wide range of albums. "Nobody Knows" is a wonderful ballad when done electrically and in the acoustic sense it just might find some new interest. It's the kind of song that should have been a blockbuster and found the band on radio stations everywhere but this was sadly not the case. "The Day I Met You" comes originally from Psychoschizophrenia which is an album I never got my hands on nor ever heard and I really enjoyed this track. "Sad Day On Planet Earth" comes from the bands last album that bore the same name and it was interesting hearing this track in the acoustic manner since it was on the heavier side and really works. I will let a little of this surprise you and say how the album closes with a skillful instrumental piece. In the end this part of the release had me thinking how good a completely acoustic Lillian Axe album would be. While I am not sure how tunes like "Laughing In Your Face" or "Dream Of A Lifetime" would work out, I would surely give it a chance. The playing on the release is sound and this is a great jumping on point for new fans. Now is truly the perfect time to get into Lillian Axe. The band has released this recording on Blaze's new label Love And War Records but sadly this will be the last go round for singer Derrick LeFevre. The vocalist moved on and has been replaced in the lineup by former Metal Church singer Ronny Munroe. I liked Derrick quite a bit on the material I heard him do but I have high hopes about what Munroe will bring to the table.

Track Listing:
1. Under The Same Moon
2. 47 Ways To Die
3. The Quenching Of Human Life
4. A Minute Of Years
5. Nobody Knows
6. The Day I Met You
7. Sad Day On Planet Earth
8. Nocturnal Symphony
9. Deep Red Shadows

Added: September 9th 2010
Reviewer: Ken Pierce
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2614
Language: english

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Lillian Axe: Deep Red Shadows
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-09-08 19:37:38
My Score:

Lillian Axe's 1989 album Love And War and the two which followed, Poetic Justice in 1992 and Psychoscizophrenia a year later, were albums that somehow saw Lillian Axe lumped in with the "hair" and "glam" movements of the time. However on closer inspection, the darker subject matter of the lyrics and less flamboyant, yet harder hitting musical approach, was a more sophisticated and less commercially influenced style than those of the bands they were likened to. Folding after that 1993 effort, which was actually the band's fourth (they released a self titled debut in '88), the band put out a disappointing demos and out-takes album Fields Of Yesterday in 1999 to satisfy fans. Three years further on and a live album was released from a regrouped line up, however by 2007's comeback album proper - Waters Rising, Ron Taylor, whose rich, charismatic vocals had done much to set the band apart from the crowd, was gone. Guitarist and song writer Steve Blaze recruited the Taylor sound-alike Derrick Lefevre, but the album itself was a little flat and one paced and fell well short of Lillian Axe's early output. Adding a more progressive edge to their sound, last year's Sad Day On Planet Earth was another album that promised much and delivered little, with the songs once more happy to be mid paced plod alongs, with little, if any spark to really bring them to life, although a featureless production didn't help.

For those who have found those last two albums to their liking, I'm sure that Deep Red Shadows, which is half new tracks and half acoustic reworkings of previous Lillian Axe songs, will be another interesting release. For those of us who lost the connection with Lillian Axe when they lost Taylor, it is another set of characterless songs that fails to ignite any spark of excitement. Yet again the new tracks never get out of second gear and while Lefevre remains almost indistinguishable from the man he replaced, it is just a shame that he was never given the same standard of songs to sing that his predecessor got. Whether it is "Under The Same Moon", or "47 Ways To Die", it is just the same old meander through some dark riffs that never form into anything of real interest, while the plain boring "A Minute Of Years" is aptly named.

The acoustic tracks offer some hope, with a different aspect of the band being allowed to come to the fore, with both eras ("Nobody Knows" and "The Day I Met You" being older songs and "Sad Day On Planet Earth" and "Nocturnal Symphony" being newer) having new life breathed into them. Lefevre shines throughout and Blaze's guitar work - which to be fair can never really be faulted - is tasteful and beautiful in equal measure. In truth, as the brooding atmospheric title track which is a new composition for this album proves, a whole disc in this style would have been welcome indeed.

It is obvious from my comments that I am a fan of early Lillian Axe, while their latter work has left me extremely nonplussed. I am however not calling for a return to the old style and am happy for the band's sound to evolve further, if the songs get more life about them while retaining the dark aura that has always been present. Lefevre is a more than capable singer and as I've said, he is not at fault here, however I for one hope that the recruitment of ex Metal Church front man Ronny Munroe heralds a noticeable change in direction.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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