“Back In Time” is album number two for Toronto speed metal quartet Axxion, and it could not be a more appropriately named record. This release features 9 songs of high-charged, energetic heavy metal that takes you back to the glory of the 1980s. The sub-2 minute intro will instantly get your neck moving, with its Maiden-like melodies and wild soloing, courtesy of Sir Shred. It’s impossible to imagine a more appropriate intro than this one.
The entire album follows this lead. Nearly every track is upbeat and delivers classic riff after classic riff. There’s nothing innovative here (particularly if you’ve heard the band’s debut), but it just rocks so hard. The point of contention for those unfamiliar with the band will be the eccentric vocals of Devon Kerr. There are guys that sing in high-pitched voices, and then there is this guy. The notes he hits don’t even make sense, and there are actually a couple of moments on the record where he just can’t hit them (mostly on the title track), but it doesn’t detract from the performance because it’s just so hilarious. The interesting thing is that he actually has a pretty good normal singing voice, which he does use on more than a few occasions, but if you can’t deal with falsettos, “Back In Time” will be a tough sell.
Relative to the band’s debut, this record is almost exactly on par with it. Some songs are better and some are worse, but Axxion is still writing great music on “Back In Time”. The highlight is “All Bark No Bite”, which is the most unique song. It is a mid-tempo stomper, with tons of feelgood riffs. If you’re familiar with the classic Skull Fist songs “Commit To Rock” and “Bad For Good”, this song goes for something similar. But of course, most of the album is just really fun speed metal. Songs like “Lost In Flames”, “Headbangers”, and the especially speedy “Ride Through Hell”, are instantly catchy and will be fun whether live or on the album. Surprisingly, this record gets better as it goes on. The aforementioned “All Bark No Bite” is track 7, and the band follows it up with two more ragers that push the limits of memorability. Both “Criminal” and “Sinner” need to be live staples because they’re some of the band’s best work. The backing vocals in the chorus of the former track will make it an easy to get some great crowd interaction going.
Joining the lineup for this album is Cauldron’s Jason Decay on bass. This album has one of his best performances to date. As great as he is in Cauldron, Axxion’s higher tempo music gives him more room to shine (it probably helps that he doesn’t need to sing here either). The rest of the musicianship is also on point. When Kerr isn’t about to pass out from wailing his lungs out, Sir Shred is delivering solo after solo of wicked guitar playing. Alison Thunderland rounds out the lineup with an even better performance than on the last album. Axxion might be a relatively new band, but its musicians are experienced, and it shows. Overall, “Back In Time” is one of the most convincing speed metal records of recent years. As stacked as Toronto is with awesome heavy and speed metal bands, it is easy to see why Axxion has quickly closed in on the third spot in terms of popularity, behind only Cauldron and Skull Fist. These guys rule, and “Back In Time” is only going to launch them to greater heights!
Be sure to check out and like Axxion on Facebook!
Update October 10, 2016: Thanks to a kind reader for letting me know that "Criminal" is actually a song originally written by Tyran' Pace, and not Axxion. Sounds like a great band to check out!
"All Bark No Bite"
4.5/5 or 90%.
Written by Scott