Release date: January 7, 2011
Sweden’s power metal outfit, Axenstar, is back after five long years. Their last record, The Final Requiem came out in 2006, so fans have long been waiting on Aftermath, their fifth full length release. In the interim the band has replaced their drummer, one of their guitarists and their record label. Vocalist, keyboardist Magnus Winterwild has now added bass duties to his repertoire, at least for this record.
Aftermath seems to follow an apocalyptic lyrical theme. Kicking the album off with “Dogs of War” which barrels in with rivet gun drumming and a tasty galloping guitar riff. The song is heavy, and headbanging while still melodic. This track encompasses what the rest of the album offers; a blend of heavy hammering metal with soaring melodic highlights.
The band has already made two videos for the album, including one for “Tears of the Sun” which fires off with a wickedly delightful riff that makes you wanna pick up your guitar and rock. Then the rapid fire double bass kicks in, and you’re off to the races.
The title track, makes heavier use of keyboards, which were almost distracting, but still another solid track, dealing with the aftermath of nuclear war. The guitars and drum work propels the melody forward. The band shot a video for this one as well, which you can view below.
Joakim Johnsson’s guitar work on this record is at times brilliant, at times grandiose, and in places even beautiful. He really shines throughout the album.
One of the major flaws I’ve found with European power metal in recent years is that the technical prowess shines while the songwriting has suffered. Music is not memorable for technique but rather how the music resonates and stays with you. Axenstar has done a solid job of overcoming that on this record. The songs are catchy and memorable. Listeners of the genre will generally be pleased with what they hear. While there are some mediocre tracks mixed in, overall power metal fans can raise a toast.
Aftermath has been a long time coming and worth the wait. A grand way to kick off the new year.
1. Dogs of War
2. The Escape
3. Tears of the Sun
6. The New Breed
7. Dead Kingdom
8. Until Your Dying Breath
9. Signs of a Lie
10. Forever the Pain
Visit Axenstar’s website