Vices Kick Axe - Vices (Epic/Wounded Bird) 1984

1. Heavy Metal Shuffle (3:15)
2. Vices (4:22)
3. Stay on Top (4:06)
4. Dreamin' About U (4:32)
5. Maneater (3:21)
6. On the Road to Rock (4:22)
7. Cause 4 Alarm (4:38)
8. Alive and Kickin' (3:50)
9. All the Right Moves (4:36)
10. Just Passin' Through (4:47)

Kick Axe is a Canadian heavy metal band formed in the mid-1970's. Their sound is good-time, sing-along heavy metal. Loud drums, heavy riffs, competent shredding solos and, of course, big choruses. Kick Axe were quite obviously influenced by 1970's American bands like Aerosmith, Kiss and Van Halen though their sound falls somewhere between Quiet Riot and Dokken, not unlike fellow Canuck metal bands Killer Dwarfs and Helix

The band achieved some commercial success from this debut on the strength of the heavy metal anthem and their first single, "Heavy Metal Shuffle". The song is sort of a fun, goofy song, not unlike Twisted Sister's "I Wanna Rock", but it's certainly not one of the best on the album, even if it is one of the more popular. The title track is a fists-in-the-air metal anthem while "Dreamin' About U" is a high-caliber power ballad that has a Dokken-esque quality to it. "Stay On Top" is a solid straight-forward heavy metal number driven by a thumpin' bass driven line and those heavy hangin' guitar chords. The lyrics are a bit odd in that some of them sound like scat instead of actual lyrics. "Maneater" is another straight-forward heavy metal romp with a big, hooky chorus. In fact, most of this album is built around this formula. It's all very simplistic and the lyrics aren't exactly rocket science, but who ever said that heavy metal had to be? It's just a fun heavy metal record.

Welcome to the Club Kick Axe - Welcome to the Club (Epic/Wounded Bird) 1985

1. Welcome to the Club (4:49)
2. Feels Good, Don't Stop (3:21)
3. Comin' After You (4:59)
4. Make Your Move (3:52)
5. Never Let Go (5:18)
6. Hellraisers (4:20)
7. Can't Take It With You (3:42)
8. Too Loud... Too Old (2:52)
9. Feel the Power (3:49)
10. With a Little Help From My Friends (4:34)

Kick Axe's debut was a quirky, mostly heavy, and a highly entertaining heavy metal platter. With the band's sophomore release, the production values alters the bands sound quite a bit. The whole thing is rather loose, with an almost AOR feel, despite the second side of this album having some fairly hard rockin' numbers like "Hellraisers" and "Too Loud... Too Old". The mix is somewhat drum heavy, echoey and boomy with the guitars stepping back in the mix. Overall, it's just not quite as metallic as the debut and the song craft just isn't quite as good as the debut.

Having said all that, there is still quite a bit of good hard rock on this album, such as the previously mentioned rocker "Hellraisers". This song could have been on the band's debut. The album opener is a catchy AOR number with a slight Southern tinge. "Never Let Go" is a mellow, albeit dark and morose number. "Too Loud... Too Old" reminds me of something Kiss might have recorded around this same time. The album closes out with a cover of The Beatles "With a Little Help From My Friends", which is well done; the band giving the song their own spin. "Welcome to the Club" certainly cannot top the band's debut, but it's still an enjoyable melodic rock album.

Rock the World Kick
 Axe - Rock the World (MTM Music) 1986

1. Rock the World (4:13)
2. The Chain (5:02)
3. Red Line (3:31)
4. Devachan (5:00)
5. Warrior (4:53)
6. We Still Remember (5:58)
7. Great Escape (3:19)
8. Medusa (4:31)
9. The Dark Crusade (4:47)
10. Magic Man (5:31)
11. Piece of the Rock (3:33)

Third album from Kick Axe. It was also their final album before breaking up, though the band did reform many years later and put out a fourth release. This album follows similar terrain as the band's last two albums; melodic, hard rock/heavy metal with more hooks than a tackle box. Tracks like "Rock the World" and "Red Line" are up-beat, straight-forward heavy metal, though the production robs the songs of the edge they might have otherwise had. Other songs such as "Warrior" and "We Still Remember" are slower numbers that also would have been crushingly heavy had the recording allowed the guitars to shine through a bit more. Regardless of the production, I really enjoyed the epic vibe of "We Still Remember", which is enhanced by a fairly lengthy and slightly bluesy guitar solo in the middle of the song. Another standout cut is the excellent cover of "The Chain", a song originally recorded by Fleetwood Mac. Besides hooky songwriting, the other thing that Kick Axe has going for them are George Criston's charismatic vocals. He really gives Kick Axe a charismatic and unique sound. 

This album was originally released on Epic Records, through CBS in Canada, and the smaller label Mercenary issued it on LP/Cassette/CD in the U.S. The CD was pressed in very limited quantities making it a highly sought-after collectible, selling for $100 or more on auction sites. (Someone on claims to have seen it sell for $200 on eBay.) The band reissued the album with different cover in 2004 on their own label bringing down the price on the originals, though those are still highly collectible. The re-issue was also picked up by MTM with distribution through SPV in Europe, which is the version I own. (The original cover art was fairly cheesy, the re-release art didn't improve on it much and in fact might be worse. )

The re-release contains a bonus track titled "Piece of the Rock". From what I have read, the song was originally written for Black Sabbath to record but was eventually recorded by King Kobra for their "Ready To Strike" release. The song has a very haunting vibe and I definitely could hear Black Sabbath recording this song in the mid-80's, though Kick Axe's style tends to be very different from Sabbath. Kick Axe's version is very similar to the version recorded by King Kobra

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