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Axxis - "Kingdom Of The Night II" (Boxed Set)

Axxis - "Kingdom Of The Night II" Boxed Set cover image

"Kingdom Of The Night II" track listing:

Black Edition:

1. Kingdom of the Night II
2. Venom
3. Beyond the Sky
4. The War
5. Never Again
6. Soulfire
7. More than for One Day
8. Lass Dich Gehn
9. Lie After Lie
10. Mary Married a Monster (Our Version)
11. Bites Inside

White Edition:

1. Hall of Fame
2. Heaven in Paradise
3. Living in a Dream
4. 21 Crosses
5. My Eyes
6. Dance into Life
7. Mary Married a Monster (Her Version)
8. We Are the World
9. Take Me Far Away
10. Gone with the Wind
11. Temple of Rock

Reviewed by on March 17, 2014

"...Axxis may not be everyone’s pick, but are a go to band when you need them and you can hardly shut off a song when it’s on."

Outside of sound, two aspects of heavy metal that sets it apart from mainstream is the propensity for longevity with no support or income, and the importance of complete album compositions. Sure, there are still thousands of one song, one demo, or one album bands out there, but more often than not a metal band sustains periods of sustained activity more frequently than mainstream counterparts. For a band like Axxis, it is a sustained period of well-crafted and highly memorable albums and songs in two nearly distinct subgenres: hard rock and melodic power metal.

From 1988-2003, Axxis played high quality hard rock. At some point in 2003 or so, the band became distinctly heavier and faster in a melodic power metal direction. In one of the coolest moves from a band, the German legends decided to marry the two halves by creating “Kingdom of the Night II” – a double album of new material with a “white” (ode to the hard rock side) and “black” (ode to the more melodic power metal side). The album might simultaneously be the hard rock and melodic power metal sleeper of 2014, proving again that Axxis may not be everyone’s pick, but are a go-to band when you need it and you can hardly shut off a song when it’s on.

With both halves steeped in tradition and dripping with memorability, Axxis presents two albums of equal value and superb songwriting. Band mainstay Bernhard Weiss (v) may have an acquired vocal taste for some, but he is the heart and soul of this great act…and there is no Axxis without him. Backed by the phenomenal talent of Harry Oellers (g) and Marco Wriedt (g) and rhythm section Rob Schomaker (b) and Dirk Brand (d), Axxis shines in musicianship and the ability to write great rock and metal songs. When the heaviness takes over, I dare you to find songs that will get you moving and singing more than “Venom,” “Beyond the Sky,” and “The War.” Then when there is need to get in touch with the emotional side or some straight up feel good rock tunes you have “Temple of Rock” “Gone With the Wind,” and “Hall of Fame.” It’s black and white, up and down, ying and yang. Whichever the color, it’s impossible to turn off and harder to shake from your mind.

One song of particular interest is “21 Crosses” on the white edition of the release. A beautiful ballad, it chronicles the 21 souls who died in the 2010 Love Parade Music Festival disaster in Duisburg, Germany on July 24th, 2010. The ramp and tunnel access to the event became so overcrowded that it caused a phenomenon called “crowd turbulence” that crushed the victims. The song is a fitting tribute to the fallen and the band even reads the names of the victims at the end.

It’s hard enough for some bands to even write one complete album with nearly every song passing the grade, but here is Axxis making two albums representing its two sides in history and each song is as good as the predecessor and better. The heavy is heavy, the rock is rockin’ and the ballads emotion filled. Through it all, the songwriting continues to astound after all these years. So the next time you find yourself humming a tune you cannot seem to place or find yourself singing a tune in the car and you wonder - “Who is this? I’ve heard this before and its great!” – look down at the radio dial or digital media player….it’s probably Axxis.

Highs: A fitting tribute to the band's hard rock past and melodic power metal present.

Lows: Some may find Bernhard Weiss' vocal style an acquired taste and the music to be a bit basic for a modern taste.

Bottom line: Double your pleasure by digging both deep in the past and right in the now for total Axxis!

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)