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On disc: Lillian Axe

Sad Day On Planet Earth - Claudia Ehrhardt - 7 stars
XI: The Days Before Tomorrow - Claudia Ehrhardt - 6 stars

XI: The Days Before Tomorrow

XI: The Days Before Tomorrow
(AFM Records - 2012)

Lillian Axe present a new album and a new singer. Unfortunately Ronny Munroe wasn't able to stay with Lillian Axe due to his involvement in other bands - by now he also left Presto Ballet due to being part of Trans-Siberian Orchestra - and Lillian Axe had to find a new singer. The new guy is Brian Jones and I expected a powerful singer to replace Mr. Munroe, but Brian Jones isn't what I expected.

The album kicks off with Babylon, a heavy riff leads you into this track and you expect a high scream... After a minute or so Mr. Jones joins into this mid-paced tune, a melodic track, but not a good choice for an opener. In my opinion it's also too long, they can't keep the listeners attention. Heavy drums lead you into Death Comes Tomorrow, but then they slow down and you get a piano-based passage. Only piano and vocals - and even here Mr. Jones can't shine. They return to the powerful guitar-based sound, but while at some songs the vocals do the trick and hook you up even when the songs is so-so, it doesn't happen here - at least he can't hook me up. With Gather Up The Snow it gets a bit better, but it also shows Jones limits. Somehow I have the feeling that quite a few songs have been written for Ronny Munroe and now have been modified to fit Brian Jones... Perhaps I'm wrong...

The Great Divide works better, but the more I hear of the new Lillian Axe the more I think that Brian Jones isn't the perfect singer for Lillian Axe - only if they want to adventure get into alternative rock in future... I like some of the vocal lines at this one, but the quite modern riffing doesn't match the atmosphere the vocals creating. Take The Bullet shows some progressive elements combined with modern riffing and vocals which partly need to be more aggressive. With Bow Your Head they present a balladesque tune with an opening passage based on acoustic guitars and vocals, later the band joins in. This track shows that Brian Jones is best add balladesque stuff. Not that this is giving me goosebumps, but still here the vocals work best with the music. Beside that it has a catchy edge and a emotional guitar solo to offer.

With a scream they head into Caged In, but even if this is quite heavy the vocals can't keep up. Later the song changes, becomes more melodic and somehow leaves me puzzled. It's too mixed and even if some passages give a good impression they don't work well together.

The closer is called My Apologies, a quite balladesque opening, but it gets a bit heavier. I'm wondering, if this is an apology to their long time fans.... I think many old fans will be disappointed... Someone who never listened to Lillian Axe in the past might like it...

Sorry guys, but I think you should have take time to find a more powerful singer for Lillian Axe or if you want to head into alternative rock, reduce the heavy riffing and rename. I don't really believe you want to change style, but this album can't stand comparison with your previous releases. The skills are there and Steve Blaze wrote some great tunes in the past, but not this time. Please make up your mind where you want to go next time and if it means a change, go for it! But go all the way!

6 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt


Sad Day On Planet Earth

Sad Day On Planet Earth
(Blistering Records - 2009)

In 1988 Lillian Axe released their self-titled debut and got positive feedback. After 3 more albums the band disbanded in 1995. In 1999 they returned to the scene with Fields Of Yesterday, after a live album in 2002 it took 5 more years to present a new studio album. The band has been through some line-up changes and on the last studio album Waters Rising only founding member Steve Blaze introduced singer Derrick LeFevre. Now they are signed to Blistering Records and their new album Sad Day On Planet Earth is on the way.

With guitar they lead into the album, slowly they start Cocoon - an intro. For MegaSlowFade they speed up and add some heaviness and so this one becomes a melodic rocker with a dash of sleaze. Next in line is Jesus Wept which is based on sharp riffs, but the sound it a bit too much 80's and could be more powerful... Not a bad one... There is some sadness audible, but it can't touch me... A bit too whinny for me. The acoustic guitar passage gives me hope, but then they get back to the main theme...With a heavy bass line and crunchy riffs they open up Ignite, the tune has a modern touch. Personally I would wish the song would be a bit more aggressive... But great guitar play by Steve Blaze and Sam Poitevent. One of my favorites is The Grand Scale Of Finality, perhaps because it has a progressive edge... And can surprise with twists and turns. Acoustically they kick off the title track Sad Day On Planet Earth, but then it becomes a heavy melodic tune which carries a sad note. They add some semi-acoustic passage, but again they can't touch me. It's well done, but this little extra is missing... A little symphonic is Within Your Reach at the beginning... It somehow sounds familiar... It has it's moments, when they pick up speed. With Kill Me Again they have a great one placed almost at the end of the CD. The track begins with a great lead guitar part and has some semi-acoustic elements, but also some heavy riffs. More songs like this one would have me the album more interesting - at least for me....

A decent album which has all the trademarks of the Lillian Axe sound and with almost 75 minutes you get a lot of music!

7 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt


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