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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Lillian Axe

Love + War

Review by Gary Hill

The second release from Lillian Axe, this has just been remastered and released. While their first disc was strong, this album showed them in a much more potent place in terms of songwriting and performance. That album was very good. This one is phenomenal. If there had been any justice these guys would have been bigger than bands like Dokken and Warrant because they were writing better music. This is a great disc and I highly recommend it.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
All's Fair in Love and War
Much like the first disc, this one starts off with a dramatic keyboard solo that serves as the extended introduction to the opening piece. A spoken word section with an old rock and roll feel takes over from there on this one, though. Then they drop into a meaty metal riff driven sound. This feels a bit like Twisted Sister but it has an older element to the feel of it, too. This one is a killer track that has a lot of maturity while still pulling together a singalong anthemic texture. It's a great opening number and really shows just how much the band matured since their first release.
She Likes It On Top
A bit more in keeping with the '80's hair metal sound, this is still meaty. I guess you could hear a bit of WASP in this, but I also hear a very healthy dose of The Sweet here. It's another catchy song that also has some metal meat on its bones. There is also a great melodic instrumental section and a killer guitar solo on this track.
Diana
They drop it down the ballad stylings for this song. It doesn't have a typical metal ballad approach, though, almost feeling a bit more like a 1950's styled ballad, but delivered with hints of metal. It's a very accessible piece and doesn't come anywhere near trite or sappy.
Down on You
The most '80's metal sounding cut so far, this one still manages to get a bit of a sneer to pull it out of the realm of medicrity. In some ways this feels a bit like Guns N Roses. This has a cool sound to it and a bit of a playful swagger. You can hear echoes of Poison and Motley Crue at times, but it's really all Lillian Axe in the wash.
World Stopped Turning
This powerful balladic number has a classic metal sound. It reminds me a bit of "She's Gone" from Black Sabbath. It also has elements of prog metal bands like Queensryche and Fates Warning. They still pull some of the glam metal elements into the mix on this one, mostly on the chorus. This is actually an incredibly strong piece of music that has a lot of different things going on. It's one of the highlights of the CD.The guitar soloing in this number is especially tasty.
Ghost of Winter
The sound of the wind leads this off. Then another dramatic ballad-like structure enters with symphonic overtones. This has a great, rather off-kilter sound to it. As it builds upward it feels somewhat like the more balladic of some of Ozzy's work. They build it up a bit in another solid motif. This has some interesting twists and turns. It's also another strong cut. I'm just not sure that having two mellower songs next to each other was the best decision. As strong as these two tracks are, though, it's really a minor quibble. I like this track a lot.
My Number
Now we're back into harder edged territory with this cruncher. It's got a more raw vocal delivery and a killer guitar texture. It has a little bit of a generic glam metal approach, but it's barely an issue.
Show A Little Love
Here's a track that's more typical hair metal, but in a good way. This is the kind of rough and tumble sound that always worked so well in that genre. I wouldn't consider it a standout, but it's also far from weak. The vocal arrangement is particularly strong.
Fool's Paradise
More furious metal makes up the main impetus of this number. We get some killer guitar sounds on this and it's a strong cut. I like the vocal arrangement and the riff that drives the piece.
Letters In the Rain
This is actually one of the best tracks on the disc. It's a gritty metal stomper. It has some exceptionally tasty guitar riffs and progressions. It's also got a great vocal performance. The two things combine to make this an excellent choice to close the disc.
 
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