The German Hard Rock / Heavy Metal formation AXXIS celebrates its 25th anniversary anno 2014. Even though the band was formed in 1988, it was in 1989 that their debut album, “Kingdom Of The Night”, was released. Throughout their career, every few years a new album was released, next to the many gigs they played in between.
I got to know about AXXIS in 2006, the year of “Paradise In Flames” (see here). That album didn’t really convince me, although it has good songs. However, I did notice that as a new album came out, it was better than the predecessor. In this case, “Doom Of Destiny” (2007, see here) and “Utopia” (2009, see here), of which the latter was indeed very good.
Two years ago, the band fronted by Bernhard Weiß released a cover album, titled “reDISCover(ed)”. This was quite a letdown for me, as you can read here. Let’s focus on the band’s newest releases: “Kingdom Of The Night II”, available in two versions, a black one and a white one. The black one contains the heavier tracks, the white one combines the softer, more accessible songs. Both albums were released on the 28th of February 2014.
The white edition of “Kingdom Of The Night II” thus contains the softer, more accessible songs. “Hall Of Fame” does take a powerful start, but indeed, the sound/production is lighter, Poppier than the songs on the black edition. The chorus seems to head into the Glam direction. Still, this is one of the highlights on the album. “Heaven In Paradise” is a Poppy, keyboard-driven song where this instruments joins forces with the guitar, especially in the chorus. In the atmospheric verses, the bass and drums have adapted to this, so as not to stand out in a contrasting manner. And so the song advances, grows towards the chorus. Not a bad song, but nothing exciting either.
“Living In A Dream” is another highlight. After the acoustic intro, the Rock breaks loose, even if it’s a simpler version of the stuff on the black edition. The chorus also makes a trip back to the 1980s. For the solo part a lot of room was reserved. “21 Crosses” is a Folky tune, starting with a flute. The chorus is, on the other hand, a full-blown power ballad. While the band then returns to the semi-acoustic verses, and thus creates a nice varied dish, the song in general is pretty boring, if I may say so. And it doesn’t get better with “My Eyes”. At all. A clean intro, including vocals, leads to Poppy and emotional verses. And ballad time continues in the chorus. Really? Yes, really. And if you feel like singing along to “o hohoho” or something along those lines… Don’t. Seriously, what’s the idea behind this part?
Ah, there is light at the end of the tunnel: “Dance Into Life”. A Power/Folk song with a key role for the piano/keyboards. Full power is for the chorus, where the violin adds its sounds as well. Uptempo Pop Rock, catchy and melodic, can be heard in “Mary Married A Monster (her version)”. The “(our version)” can be found on the black edition. Good stuff, on both discs. So is “We Are The World”, also Folk-influenced, albeit Greek here, I reckon. The music is, as usual, catchy, but also groovy. Full power again resides in the chorus. And the quality remains high, thanks to “Take Me Far Away”, a Bluesy Rocker with an outstanding, anthemic chorus. The keyboard input is only small compared to the domination of the vocals, guitars and drums.
In need of more Pop? Here’s “Gone With The Wind”. This one takes a clean start, musically (guitar) and vocally (male and female vocals, the latter again by Natalie Mol). The chorus contains symphonic backing, to better express the emotional aspect of the music. Afterwards the entire band comes into play. And the end result is actually very good. Likewise for the closing track, “Temple Of Rock”, featuring André Hilgers (RAGE, SILENT FORCE, …) on drums. He has played in AXXIS before. And that’s how the song starts, with a drum groove. The guitar is added and so the song is built, aided by a backing organ. This is another track that puts you in a good mood, and features a wah-wah solo.
In short: the black edition surpasses this white edition. And musically the contrast couldn’t be bigger. Hence also Yin and Yang? If you seek the lighter side of AXXIS, then the white edition is yours to obtain. If, however, you seek songs with powerful instrumentation, then you need the black edition. But you can also obtain both, as these two albums are both AXXIS. The choice is yours.
You can read the review of the black edition here.
- Hall Of Fame
- Heaven In Paradise
- Living In A Dream
- 21 Crosses
- My Eyes
- Dance Into Life
- Mary Married A Monster (her version)
- We Are The World
- Take Me Far Away
- Gone With The Wind
- Temple Of Rock
Bernhard Weiss – vocals
Marco Wriedt – guitars
Rob Schomaker – bass
Harry Öllers – keyboards
Dirk Brand – drums