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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Lillian Axe

The Box, Volume One – Resurrection

Review by Gary Hill

This collection of music from Lillian Axe is pretty amazing. It includes seven CDs. That said, the final disc is a reissue of Lillian Axe guitarist Steve Blaze's solo album with some Lillian Axe tunes added as bonus tracks. This all comes in a cardboard clamshell. Each CD is in its own cardboard sleeve replicating the original cover. It should be mentioned that I previously reviewed Waters Rising. For the sake of consistency, the track reviews of that CD are copied or modified from the original review. However, the bonus tracks here were not included on that disc. This music has hard rock and metal concepts throughout, but there are also progressive rock and other leanings at points. This is quite a cool set.

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Track by Track Review
CD 1
Poetic Justice (1992)
Poetic Justice

Atmospheric elements bring a sense of mystery and magic as this gets going. It's rather proggy. This is just a short introductory instrumental piece.

Killer guitar work takes over from there. This is a driving metal stomper with plenty of rock and roll in the mix. This has some cool twists and turns and even a drop to acoustic work. The guitar soloing is on fire.
True Believer
More meaty metal is on the menu here. This has more accessible hooks and more hard rock  sound at its heart. The guitar solo is rather technical, and we get some more dropped back acoustic stuff.
Body Double
Meaty riff driven metal is the concept here. This is hard-edged powerhouse that has some cool hooks. It's very much a hair metal type tune.
See You Someday
More of a balladic song, this is built around cleaner guitar sounds and less fierce metallic textures. It's a melodic rocker with some soaring vibes. I don't think I'd call it metal at all, but it's a good tune.
Living In The Grey
Now, the metal comes in at the start here, but it's of the mainstream rocking type. It drops to a cool melodic, nearly ballad motif for the entrance of the vocals. This is another that leans toward the hard rock (rather than metal) end of the spectrum. The closing instrumental section does turn more metallic. It also has some wonderfully strange twists and turns and even some classical angles.
Digital Dreams
Melodic and mellow with a lot of acoustic guitar built into it, this is quite trippy and proggy. It's a short instrumental interlude.
Dyin To Live
The guitar part that opens this almost has a power-pop vibe to it. The cut bridges the gap between metal and accessible pop rock. It's another strong tune, and an intriguing one at that. The guitar solo section has some seriously neo-classical angles. This is a killer tune that's one of my favorites on this first CD of the set.
There is plenty of melodic and proggy sound in the mix on this. Yet, it's definitely something that lands on the metal side of the equation. It's a particularly effective and dramatic song. It makes great use of the contrast between acoustic and electric guitar. It's another highlight of this first album. I really dig the bouncy sort of nearly prog instrumental break on this a lot. They turn it to more pure metal as they continue with the next san-vocals section. This just keeps reinventing, though, with lots of interesting changes in place.
The Promised Land
A more melodic and mellower cut, this is a proggy sort of thing. I'm not sure if I'd call it a ballad, but it's definitely more on the soft-rock end.
No Matter What
Here they crunch up the Badfinger song. It's a fun cover and a nice twist on the sound.
She’s My Salvation
More pure metal, this has plenty of style and charm built into it. There are definitely some power or epic metal aspects at play. There is a cool dramatic movement at the end with a spoken vocal.
A Moment Of Reflection
This instrumental has a proggy vibe. It's an intriguing piece with plenty of classical elements built into it.
Here Is Christmas (B-Side)
This melodic Christmas rocker is cool stuff.
Bonus Tracks:
She Likes It On Top (Demo 1989)

This demo has more of a "hair metal" vibe than anything else. It feels like it fits well with bands like Poison and Ratt.

Diana (Demo 1989)
A melodic rocker, this is pretty classy.
All’s Fair In Love And War (Demo 1989)
More purely metal, this is a hard rocking jam that works pretty well. There is some cool melodic interplay during the instrumental section.
Down On You (Demo 1989)
A rawer rocker, there are hints of punk in the mix on this. It's not one of my favorites here, but it does get points for the genuine feeling to it.
Fool's Paradise (Demo 1989)
There is a bit of a raw angle to this one, but not to the same level as the previous cut. It's another hard rocking, driving song.
The World Stopped Turning (Demo 1989)
This song is pretty amazing. It has a proggy vibe and lots of drama and magic. It has some things that make me think of psychedelia.
CD 2
Psychoschizophrenia (1993)

Powering in with a lot of driving and style, this has some alternative rock angles brought by the vocals. It's energized and rocking.

Deep Freeze
I love the smoking hot metal on display on this song. It has a real mean sound to it. As much as I liked the previous disc, I think this is stronger than anything on that CD.
Moonlight In Your Blood
There are some cool psychedelic rock edges to this. It has some solid hooks and a lot of charm. It's a killer tune that has a more mainstream edge to it. The guitar soloing is on fire.
Stop The Hate
A chiming keyboard sound serves as the backdrop for something that sounds like kids talking. That eventually gives way to a dramatic melodic, almost proggy, hard rock arrangement. It drops down to mellower zones for the entrance of the vocals. This one is so cool. I'd consider it one of the highlights of the whole set. The guitar soloing gets rather neo-classical, and the whole tune is just so magical.
Sign Of The Times
Powerfully neo-classically tinged metal gets things underway here. That holds the introduction. Then the number turns to a meaner metal approach from there for the song proper. There is a neo-classically tinged instrumental break. The guitar solo beyond that is stellar.
The Needle And Your Pain
Intricate acoustic guitar is in the driver's seat here. This is a balladic cut that has a lot of style and charm.
Those Who Pray
Piano gets us going here. The song is another ballad at the start. After a while, though, it shifts to a killer hard rocking metal jam that has some great riffing. This is quite the powerhouse, really.  The guitar solo covers some pretty technical territory.
Voices In My Walls
The bass really drives this as it gets going. The track builds out to another classy metal arrangement with plenty of other intriguing things at play. This is meaty and strong.
Now You Know
Intricate mellower guitar gets us going on this song. The track builds out there with cool hard rock meets metal sounds. This is a solid tune, but a little less interesting than some of the rest on this second disc.
Deep Blue Shadows
I dig the hook laden, yet metallic, sound on this tune. I'm reminded just a little King's X in some way, but the chorus brings almost a Sweet vibe.
The Day I Met You
Acoustic guitar starts this, and vocals join in a balladic arrangement. This is a pretty and effective piece.
The title track this second album powers in with some seriously hard rocking metal sound. It has some alternative rock in the mix along with the metal elements. There is a drop-back mid-track to an almost symphonic section. It powers back out to driving rocking sounds from there. This is a particularly cool number.
Bonus Tracks
The Last Goodbye (Demo & Previously Unreleased 1989)

A pretty straight-ahead hard rocker, this is not bad, but not really all that special.

Perfect Blue (Demo & Previously Unreleased 1989)
Much more of a pure metal song, this is another that's solid, but not really exceptional. Then again, it is a bonus track and demo. I really like the guitar solo a lot, though.
Anna Lee (Demo & Previously Unreleased)
There is some intricate acoustic guitar on this melodic rocker. It reminds me a little of Kiss. It's one of the better bonus tracks on display here.
Only You (Demo & Previously Unreleased)
This rocker is pretty generic. It has a lot of energy, but isn't really anything all that memorable or unique.
Restitution For The Black Sheep (Demo & Previously Unreleased)
Now, this is a completely different beast. It's fierce and dramatic. It' has a nice blend of metal and alternative rock. It's mean and one of the best bonus tracks of the whole set.
CD 3:
Live 2002 (Disc One)
Misery Loves Company

They fire this out with plenty of hard rocking sound and metal ferocity. It's a strong live show opener.

All’s Fair In Love & War
This rocker seems land somewhere between indie and more mainstream metal territory. It's another effective live song.
More of a hard rocker, this still has enough metal in the mix to qualify. It's another solid tune.
The World Stopped Turning
The dramatic power-ballad textures that start this are so classy. The song reminds me a little of "Paint it Black" by the Rolling Stones, and that's high praise from me. It turns toward more pure metal as it continues. The guitar solo is all class.
Letters In The Rain
Drums and scorching guitar get this going with some killer metal sound. A scream joins along with the rest of the band. This is a real powerhouse, and a great performance.
Waiting In The Dark
Another track with a balladic side to it, this cut is packed full of drama and style. It's another classy winner. The intricate guitar interlude mid-track is so cool, and so is the rocking section that brings it back out from there.
More riff driven and rocking, this metal stomper is very classy. The guitar solo section on this thing is amazing.
Pullin The Rats Out
More driving live metal is on the menu here. This is another powerhouse.
Ghost Of Winter
This comes in with classy, dramatic power-ballad intricacy. It grows out with a lot of style and charm. This is magical. It gets harder rocking and metallic, but still retains the mystery and mellower sense of the balladic portion of the track. It even drops back there for a time. This is one of my favorites from the live set. It's such a strong tune and performance.
Fool’s Paradise
Driving metal is on the menu here. This is a fierce and hard rocking.
This is a little more on the raw side, but it still has some good hooks. It's another strong entry on this live disc.
Nobody Knows
More of a ballad, the crowd sings along on this tune.
Sign Of The Times
I dig the driving metal on this tune. The chorus is classy, too. The guitar soloing on ibis is purely on fire.
This is a smoking hot rocker that really has some intriguing twists and turns.
Show A Little Love
There is a real pop rock sensibility tempered with a metal meets indie edge. This is another solid tune.
The Day I Met You
A balladic tune, this is pretty and rather dramatic. It never rises to the level of rocking It has some great hooks and a lot of emotion built into it. It's quite a pretty tune.
CD 4:
Live 2002 (Disc Two)
Voices In My Walls

The rhythm section gets things underway here. This works out to a classy metal sound from there. It's a powerhouse.

Those Who Prey
I dig the intricate and dramatic balladic approach as this gets underway. It turns hard rocking later, and they drive it forward with a lot of style and charm.
Dream Of A Lifetime
More of a straight ahead pop rocker, this is classy stuff. It still has enough metallic edge to make that title fit, but overall this is more arena rock based. It's also very effective.
Become A Monster
I love the driving metal stomping of this killer tune every time. It works really well in this live telling.
True Believer
This straight-ahead rocker works really well here.
Bonus Tracks
No Matter What (Acoustic)

Here we get an acoustic version of the band's Badfinger cover. This is classy. The frantic acoustic guitar soloing is so cool.

True Believer (Acoustic)
This rocker works really well on acoustic guitar. The vocal seems a little too high up in the mix, though, and the recording feels a little rough around the edges. I dig the guitar solo on this a lot.
Fear Of Time (Demo)
This is mean, hard rocking and so cool. It does feel a little demo-like in sound, but rocks like crazy. This is just such an amazing song. I love it. In fact, I like this at least as well as just about any of the more "finished" songs here.
Until The End Of The World (Demo)
Melodic rocking sounds are on the menu here. This has a great arena rock sound at play.
Divine (Demo)
Driving hard rock is the order of business here. The sound quality isn't' perfect, but this song rocks well, and it's not so bad to really deter from it. That said, this more of an "also ran" kind of thing than any kind of standout. There is a real classic rock vibe at play later.
I Have To Die, Goodbye (Demo)
This demo of a song that is a highlight of Waters Rising has a real acoustic psychedelic edge as it gets underway. This gets more rocking further down the road. It's not at the same level as the final version, but it's cool nonetheless.
The Fields Of Yesterday (Demo)
Neo-classical sounds get things underway here. The track grows out from there with a slow moving, dramatic arrangement. I really dig the sort of proggy meets psychedelic vibe of this song. The melodic, but hard rocking, guitar soloing later is all class.
Quarantine (Demo)
There is plenty of classic rock sound, tempered with some metal crunch, on the agenda here. This rocker is another classy one. The vocal hooks are so tasty.
Kill Me Again (Demo)
Fiercer metal is the idea here. This cut is a real powerhouse.
CD 5:
Waters Rising (2007)
Waters Rising

The title track gets things going with a rather bluesy semi-acoustic intro. They jump out from there into a chugging riff, and this just plain rocks out. It’s killer old school metal with melodic vocals. The chorus is catchy as hell! What a great way to lead things off!

This one is heavier than the opener. Points of the track (just a riff here and there) have a definite Black Sabbath feel to them. While the opener was strong, this one manages to exceed it.
Become a Monster
The sounds that start this are just plain mean. They launch it out from there with a killer riffing that’s got such an incredibly meaty sound to it. This is rubbery and more modern in texture, without wandering into nu-metal territory. The vocals are more raw and aggressive than those on the first two cuts on this CD. It’s not only a great change of pace but a killer song. They include a cool drop back to a more mellow section that has horror movie characteristics.
This one moves back to a more melodic mode, and when they drop it back to the after-chorus it’s a really bluesy groove. This cut has some funk in it and reminds me a bit of Living Colour.
I Have to Die, Goodbye
Acoustic guitar leads the festivities off in a major piece of variety. As the percussion joins it feels like you stepped into 1969. They put in a very melodic and pretty ballad sound here that even leans towards prog rock. They build this ever so gradually. When the spoken vocal segment enters, it reminds me a bit of the more acoustic Queensrÿche sound. They throw in a cool Captain Beyond like, fusion oriented progression after that. At around the four-minute-mark (this one is almost seven minutes in length) they move into sort of a 1970s classic rock motif. This gives way to the CB sounding segment. This never moves out into the metal arena, but instead serves as a great change of pace from the first half of the disc and a testament to the band’s versatility.
Fear of Time
Lillian Axe are back into the grinding metal here. They keep that variety going with a few intriguing melodic twists on the arrangement and progression. This one has a great vocal arrangement, too. We also get a more neo-classical European metal jamming later in the track.
Until The End of the World
The acoustic guitar is back on this ballad that is more traditional in some ways than “I Have to Die, Goodbye.” The opening verse reminds me a bit of Triumph. The chorus, though, has a more melodic 80s metal sound – not the “hair metal” variety, though. They crunch it out a bit more after that segment. They turn in a short movement that has a great, nearly progressive rock element to it. These guys really know how to cover all the bases, and this is one of the most dynamic and diverse songs, giving real evidence of this talent.
Fields of Yesterday
Strings lead this off in a very classical music fashion. That gives way, after a time, to a balladic approach. A metal texture takes over mid-song for a time, making this basically a powered up anthemic metal ballad. They turn it out to a cool, psychedelic, nearly prog section later that’s almost Beatles-like. The vocal arrangement on this one really stands out.
They move it back into a European epic metal vein on this cool rocker. The vocal arrangement here is a bit unusual, and you might think a bit of Kings X on the number.
The 2nd of May
Here we get another song that’s kind of all over the board. This one runs the gamut from near prog to serious metal, melodic tones and crunch merging in a killer jam. There’s one riff in here that really reminds me of early Rush. This also makes me think a lot Kings X. The talent of this band is always amazing.
Deep in the Black
Take an approach like the last track and plug it into a Pink Floyd motif and you’ve got the early moments of this cut. As they power this out it more closely resembles an epic meets progressive metal sound. This mini epic (eight-and-a-half-minutes) just keeps changing and growing. It’s an incredibly diverse jam that’s arguably the best track on the disc. I really like it a lot.
This instrumental is a chugging power house that’s full of some killer guitar soloing. It runs all over the metal spectrum and is a great way to end a smoking disc. Or in this case, the disc proper.
Bonus Tracks
2nd Of May (Demo)

The sound on this is not polished, but the performance works well. I think this version is strong, too.

Deep In The Black (Demo)
Organ is a big part of the arrangement as this gets underway. Well, at least it sounds like organ, but it could be synthesizer. This sounds less demo-like than the previous one did, but it's also not polished like the final version. This is so proggy and classy. The recording quality does take a turn for the worse later, though.
CD 6:
Sad Day On Planet Earth (2009)

Keyboards start this. Then acoustic guitar joins and we're taken into a balladic, prog rock like arrangement. A non-lyrical voice completes the picture as this introductory piece works through.

Here we get a driving, fierce metal jam. This is classy stuff. It's also tastefully furious and includes some scorching guitar soloing.
Jesus Wept
I dig the metal tinged with hints of psychedelic rock that drives this so much. It gets pretty heavy at times. This is definitely killer metal. There is a drop back to melodic rocking sounds mid-track. Guitar solos over the top of that, and the track grows to cool almost proggy territory as it continues in this instrumental movement. The guitar gets neo-classical and technical for a time. Then it drops to picked, clean guitar with vocals over the top to continue. They bring it back out to hard rocking sounds from there.
Hard rock meets metal on this killer grind. There is definitely an alternative angle to this. There is some killer guitar soloing later along this run.
The Grand Scale Of Finality
There is a cool epic metal groove and vibe to this powerhouse tune. It's another classy entry.
Sad Day On Planet Earth
Intricate acoustic guitar serves as the backdrop for the vocals as this gets going. It's a fairly complex balladic arrangement. It turns crunchier after a while with a real hard rocking magic in place. This has a definite arena rock vibe at play.
Killer psychedelia meets mainstream rock is on the menu here. This is a classic sounding, soaring piece of music that's very cool. It gets quite proggy before it's over.
Within Your Reach
Arena rock with metallic concepts built into them, this is a cool rocker with a good balance between mellower and more powered up sections.
Down Below The Ocean
Packed with drama and magic, this is a killer prog metal styled number. It's got a great groove to it, and it really rocks.
Blood Raining Down On Her Wings
Melodic metal and rock merge on this song. It's not really all that special, but it still works pretty well.
Cold Day In Hell
This gets into some balladic zones. It's another mainstream rocker with a definite arena angle at play.
Nocturnal Symphony
Intricate keyboard type sounds get this started. It gradually builds out built around classical sounds. There is a definite progressive rock angle at play here. This is dramatic and powerful as it builds. More metallic stuff emerges further down the road. The song is very dynamic and gets into some seriously soaring territory at times. It's a highlight of the set.
Built around more of a prog metal vibe, this is solid. It's a bit of a let-down from the last tune, but that's more about how good that one is. This is not a bad tune. It's just really a standout. There is a cool arena rock styled riff driven section later that manages to elevate the track a bit.
Kill Me Again
This pounds in with some metallic fury and oomph. It has a lot of classy moods and angles, yet it's clearly power metal based throughout. I really love some of the riffing on this so much.
Fire, Blood, The Earth And Sea
Starting more balladic, this grows upward to more metallic zones. This is an epic piece in scope, and at over eight-and-a-half minutes long, perhaps scale. It's decidedly metal, but there are plenty of prog leanings here, too. I have to say that the swirling, repetitive riff at the end goes on a bit too long.
Bonus Track
She Likes It On Top (Acoustic 1992)

This song works pretty well in this live acoustic performance. It's a little raw, but it's also fun.

CD 7:
Steve Blaze – Random Acts Of Blindness (2004)
Dance Of The Dead

Frantic acoustic guitar that leans on classical and flamenco styles makes up a good chunk of the beginning of this. Electric guitar joins after a while, but the music style and concept just gets intensified rather than altered. It drops to intricate balladic acoustic guitar textures further down the road and vocals join. This is very proggy as it continues. It's also evocative and beautiful. I'm reminded just a little of early Genesis.

Hard rocking and very much along the lines of guitar hero styled stuff, this is fiery. It's metallic, but has some psychedelic edges along with plenty of classical, technical metal angles. This instrumental is cool.
One Sad Sunday
A pretty ballad approach is on the menu here. The guitar playing and vocal line both work well together. There is some electrified guitar work mid-track in an instrumental section, but this remains on the mellow end of the spectrum. It's a bit folky, a little proggy and all cool.
Bridge Of Azaleas
This a growing and evolving number that has plenty of progressive rock in the mix. It's a classy number that lands on the mellower side. I'm not as crazy about the vocals as I am the music here, though.
Act Of Contrition
I think I might describe this track as folk prog. It's an intricate and potent piece of music that works well. It's definitely not metal, but it's definitely strong.
Odd Fellows Rest
Gentle keyboard sounds get this going. The cut grows out into another proggy arrangement. There are even some hints of space rock on this. It's quite psychedelic, quite accessible and very cool.
Thought Patterns
This is a screaming hot shredding guitar solo. It's less than a minute-and-a-half long, but it's a powerhouse.
Until Then
A mellow and moody balladic styled number, this has a great mood and tone. It feels quite sad.
Fleeting Sympathy
Trippy acoustic psychedelia is on the menu here. This is intriguing.
The Guardian Song
Mellow, somewhat proggy music is on the menu here. It gets quite intricate and is based on just layers of guitar and vocals. There is some killer work on the instrumental section.
Winter In New England
Not a big change, this has a moody sort of sense of gentle majesty. The layers work well with each other, and this is evocative and dramatic.
The Silver Lining
Intricate and pretty, this is an intriguing piece. It has a gentle, almost lullaby vibe to it. It turns more serious sounding and darker. It's sort of like Goth prog as it builds on that texture. It drops back to the lullaby type sounds further down the road.
Floating In A Celestial Memory
This instrumental piece is trippy and spacey. It has sort of a synergy vibe, and some definite mellow space rock in the mix.
Acoustic guitar serves as the backdrop for a pretty and balladic proggy number. There is plenty of folk music in the mix here. It's sort of a reprise of the song that opened this CD.
Lillian Axe Bonus Tracks
Dyin’ To Live (Acoustic 1992)

This rocker gets a solid acoustic rendition here.

Ghost Of Winter (Acoustic 1992)
I really love this song, in general. This acoustic performance serves it well.
The Promised Land (Acoustic 1992)
I love the intricate guitar work, and this feels like a solid acoustic rocker in this format.
Nobody Knows (Acoustic 1992)
This rocks out surprisingly hard for an acoustic guitar based rendition. It's a great tune.
Livin’ In The Grey (Acoustic 1992)
While this isn't a big change from the last song, the vocal hooks on this work well, and the song rocks nicely.
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