Lillian Axe – XI The Days Before Tomorrow [2012]

PhotobucketLillian Axe are a band that some fans may be completely on the fence with at this point in time, especially if you consider they’re early catalog of material from the 80s where they really made their mark initially. The winners of the Hall Of Fame in their homeland, first hard rock band who never managed to get into the Hall Of Fame of the Mississippi, have changed their sound since then, and after the reunion of the band in 1999, the orientations of course remains within the hard rock but from a different rota that have been successful.
What separated Lillian Axe from most of the hair metal acts back in the day was the band’s willingness to take a few chances in their music, with interesting lyrics and elaborated arrangements. Those aspects are still present in 2012, but times change, and now Lillian Axe has a new reincarnation of their sound, and that’s more than welcome. The most impressive aspect of this enduring group might just be their innate ability to remain relevant while never shunning their vibrant metal heritage. “XI The Days Before Tomorrow”” is the eleventh release and marks the debut of new vocalist Brian Jones of Jackson Mississippi, yet it stands tall amongst their many great moments and reminds everyone that although bands develop, it’s important they never lose their edge.
On “XI The Days Before Tomorrow” are elements of more explorative, progressive hard rock, with a really good and sometimes complex guitar work and intriguing sounds. Jones brings an amazing new voice and incredible vocal range to the band. His vocal style compliments Blaze’s songwriting and in turn has inspired Steve to write some of his most passionate, deep and soulful new songs to date. The album, recorded in LA at Sound Landing Studios with longtime cohorts Rob Hovey and David Heintz, and produced by Blaze with mixing by platinum producer Sylvia Massy (Tool, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Prince, Johnny Cash, Sevendust and Tom Petty), deals with some heavy issues, but it does it with real aplomb.
The album opens with the heavy razor blade riff of “Babylon” and immediately grabs the listener with it’s rolling guitar riff and massive build. It’s a straight forward, hard rockin’ song featuring a tight guitar solo by Blaze and Jones voice is nicely and emotive. This track alone is worth the price of admission to the band’s 11th studio effort. Fortunately there is far more to come. “Death Comes Tomorrow” revels in a Queensryche like rhythm broken by piano interludes and soaring vocals that give the song an epic feel without coming across as pretentious. This is a sonic journey of the damned, followed by the proggy “Gather Up The Snow’ and one of the album’s highlights, which shows Jones unique voice, and gives Blaze room to play. The guitar solo is stunning. The breakdowns and shifts are understated but brilliantly choreographed. The song simpply dances across the sonic landscape. The Spanish flavored intro to “The Great Divide” along with the great guitar work throughout it is yet another feather in the Lillian Axe cap. Ken Koudelka’s drum work shines throughout the album, but is particularly noticeable on that track, which is a very atmospheric song full of rich harmonies. The band’s first single comes via the up tempo rocker “Caged In” which sounds like a modern rocker in the style of recent modern hard rock bands like Velvet Revolver and brings serious hard rock to the fore and altough the lyrics and chorus are repetitive, you’ll simply be struck by the molten heat that the band brings to the table. “Take The Bullet” is a full on progressive track and skillfully done and “Bow Your Head” is achingly beautiful. Another highlight of the album is the heart breaking tribute to a child born with a rare skin disease. A tragic lullaby. “Soul Disease”, is a mere trivia, as the song develops into another all-conquering anthemic beast with some really great riffs. Another churner tune kicks
the chair in the song “Lava On My Tongue”, where a nice hard rock edge dominates the main riff and the drums play a nice role in this up tempo yet melodic tune, which is followed by the almost renaissance groove of “My Apologies” closes it all out. It opens with a simple melodic line that seems very familiar but swells with intensity as the song progress, and ends on a quiet note, as if spent emotionally. It is a classically structured track that echoes in your head long after it ends.
Well I can honestly say this is the a step in the right direction for the band finally, mixing hard rock and metal elements into a progressive melange of tremendous lyrical and auditory impact. Despite teh mediocre moments exist, and despite the feeling of flat voice, the new album by Lillian Axe will love it for it’s beautiful melodies and great job by Steve Blaze. Especially for those who love good guitar, this album become a must purchase.

Band Members
Brian C. Jones – Vocals
Steve Blaze – Guitar / Keyboard
Sam Poitevent – Guitar
Eric Morris – Bass
Ken Koudelka – Drums

Tracks
01. Babylon
02. Death Comes Tomorrow
03. Gather Up The Snow
04. The Great Divide
05. Take The Bullet
06. Bow Your Head
07. Caged In
08. Soul Disease
09. Lava On My Tongue
10. My Apologies
11. Angels Among Us (Bonus European Track)

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