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Lillian Axe

From Womb To Tomb

Review by Gary Hill

I never thought I'd include a Lillian Axe album under progressive rock, but honestly, that's where this fits. Yes, it does have some metal moments, but overall this is progressive rock with a metal edge. It's also quite probably the band's best album ever. It seems to be a concept album about the whole expericnce of life. Confession time - I always planned to write and record an album like that called "Life Song," so I feel some real connection to this on a thematic level. If you prefer the more mainstream and metal sides of the band, this might not resonate as well for you, but this is a masterpiece to me. This is certainly in the running to make my "best of 2022" list.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 6. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Breathe
There is a real psychedelia meets metal vibe as this number powers out of the gate. This turns almost prog-like at times.
I Am Beyond
Now, this drives in with pure metal textures. It's a dramatic and powerful cut with lots of real steel in the mix. It shifts to a melodic and mellower movement mid-track. As this continues to explore the sonic tetritory we get a return to the more metal concepts, but it also shifts back to the mellow, really bringing some proggy angles with it as it does.
Neverending Me (Dempsey's Kick)
Piano and vocals bring this number into being. It works through that part before launcing out to some more driving metal. Again, this one turns very proggy at times, particularly in the later movements. It really soars and an acoustic guitar solo ends the piece.
A
This is a short interlude made up of a bunch of weirdness.
The Golden Dragon
Driving guitar starts this tentatively. It works out to some powerful epic metal sounding stuff. The guitar solo on this is powerful. The whole tune rocks out with a killer driving metal sound. This is the first purely metal song here.
Piercing the Veil
Proggy and trippy, this is another short interlude. It's rather drream-like, and I'd call it space rock.
Migrating North
Piano starts this cut. The vocals come in over the top of that. This gets some other elements more as augmentation. The piece is a cinematic and dramatic prog ballad type of number. It gets more powerful further down the road, really intensifying that prog thing. It does pick up some metal crunch further down the raod. The sea of voices on this works particularly well. Even when the guitar takes it into a solo, it's melodic enough to qualify as prog, and there are some Beatles-like elements going on in the background.
No Problem
A mellower cut that's based on acoustic guitar, this is a folk meets prog ballad. It never rises from that vein, but is a strong tune.toward the metallic at points, but this is very much a proggy piece of music. This is another that is very epic in nature. It has a lot of change and variety.

 

Dance of the Maggots
Chorale style vocals bring this number into being. It works out from there with moody, proggy intricacies. This gets more metallic further down the road. It has some Beatles-like vibes as it does, and still lands pretty well in the dramatic metallic prog zone as it does. Around the halfway mark it shifts to more of a pure metal concept. Still, there is enough prog here and interesting twists to keep it proggy. The instrumental break does a great job of merging both prog and metal concepts. There are some vocals later that call to mind religious chorale music. This is such a powerhouse piece with a real epic scope.
Fall of the Human Condition
This thing is also epic in scope. There are dramatic prog sections, but it also has a seriously techno-metal guitar solo section. This feels soaring and dramatic and so powerful.
The Great Deception
As this gets underway, it again shows off a great combination of progressive rock and heavy metal concepts. The prog vibes are the more prominent ones here.
Endless Green Fields
An intricate acoustic guitar solo piece, this is so classy and pretty.
Feelings of Absinthe
Now, if the rest of the album were more like this, I would have landed it under heavy metal. This is crunchy and energetic. Even so, there are some soaring, proggier things at play here.
Finally, Clarity
Piano and spoken vocals are on the menu here.
From the Mountaintops
While the piano is the only accompaniment as this starts, the vocals are sung rather than spoken. It gets quite soaring. Then it turns toward more metallic zones as the other instruments join. This is another with epic range. It gets into some powerful symphonic theatrical zones later. Piano takes it to close the track.
Ascension
intricate and pretty music is on the menu here. The vocals come in over the top of the tapestry. It turns
 
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