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Lillian Axe – Love And War [1989]


As I wright this, I’m listening to it on my headphones like the sixth straight time today. Some of you may be asking, just who is Lillian Axe? Well, just ask them and they’ll tell you they’re the most under rated melodic metal band you’ve never heard of. This sophomore effort by Lillian Axe was the point where they began to spread their wings out musically and really began to establish their own style. They were still a hair metal/hard rock band with huge melodies, yet they began to add more elements of progressive music. The result is that the styles complement each other and Lillian Axe were playing a style that was at least fairly unique for 1989.

Lead guitarist Stevie Blaze, vocalist Ron Taylor, rhythm guitarist Jon Ster, bassist Rob Stratton and drummer Danny King return with bandanas, high hair and mascara all intact for 1989’s Love and War. An album that is heavy but seems to be a little more mature in the songwriting department and better as musicians. Things are a bit more streamlined and radio friendly on this album than the debut that was a little raw. Love and War packs a wallop with ten songs produced by Tony Pratt (AC/DC) that seethes with melodic overtones, hard and heavy rhythms, razor-sharp hooks,blazing solos and stylish  with gritty vocals. So, after a superb debut what was to follow? An even better follow-up!!! Every single tune on this  record will blow your minds! It is unbelievable how the quality of the songs is the same all the way through, from the very first track to the last one.

The strong and slashing “All’s Fair In Love And War” begins the fest and it sets the stage for what folllows. It’s a rockin’ tune, definetely one of heavier songs on the album. Really good harmonies and solid guitar by Blaze, while Taylor’s vocals have that griity grime that makes it sleazy, and is followed up with the great notes of “She Likes It On Top”. A What a title! Sleazy and meaningful at the same time. Great riffs and hooks, catchy chorus and of course Ron Taylor’s vocals shine us usual although the keyboards distract me a little. The opening riff of “My Number” definetely will blow you away.The song itself recalls some of the great sleaze rock of the 80’s. A great melody with attitude and power but, the song that shines here and is worth the price of the album alone is “Ghost Of Winter”. Keep things heavy even though it’s a ballad, it’s very similar to the previous songs but with a bit more keyboard, heavenly guitar solos and a great  vocal performance from Taylor. Listening to “Diana” brings me memories back from the senior year of high school.

 Definetely an underrated ballad and better than some that were big on the radio at the time. “The World Stopped Turning” has an epic  feel to it that is dominated by acoustic guitars and top notch vocals. Slow and heavy with another strong performance from both Taylor and Blaze and the keyboards being in check. A powerful track that is delivered through various emotional changes. More great riffage coming on “Fools Paradise”. This one is sure to get you moving as well. A great song that would have translated well to rock radio, lots of guitar and hooky chorus with stylish and gritty vocals. “Down On You” and “Show A Little Love” are simple, but very well done singles. Great songwriting, inredible melodic rhythm and lead guitar work, and some keyboard passages that can be avoid in my opinion. Blaze also excels here as a guitarist,coming up with some  awesome melodic hooks and solos, and of course Ron Taylor’s vocals sounds pretty tough and shines for once more. “Letters In The Rain” close the disk having a great drum and guitar intro, an undiscovered metal gem. Great sharp guitars, powerful scratchy vocals…nothing is missing in action, as close to flawless as you can get.

In my opinion this is the direction the band should have stayed on with two guitars and less keyboards. Lillian Axe had a good grasp on how to get as much as possible out of every note, changing and turning every way they could. An album that no one should not leave it gathering dust in the store.

Band Members
Ron Taylor – Vocals
Stevie Blaze – Guitar, Keyboards and background vocals
Jon Ster – Guitar, Keyboards and background vocals
Rob Stratton – Bass and background vocals
Danny King – Drums

Guest Musician
Michael Dorian – Keyboards

01. All’s Fair In Love And War (5:58)
02. She Likes It On Top (3:55)
03. Diana (4:46)
04. Down On You (4:24)
05. The World Stopped Turning (5:00)
06. Ghost Of Winter (6:18)
07. My Number (3:32)
08. Show A Little Love (4:36)
09. Fool’s Paradise (4:41)
10. Letters In The Rain (4:24)

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Lillian Axe - Love And War [1989], 8.8 out of 10 based on 4 ratings
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