[published]: 1984, June 28-July 11
[in]: Kerrang!, No. 71, p. 9
[article]: 'Vices' album review
[by]: Howard Johnson

'ORIGINAL'...Don't bother reaching for the dictionary because I've done the groundwork for you. 'Not imitative or derived' says The Little Oxford Dictionary. Fair enough, but I blame you not for having little grasp of the concept that is 'originality'. After all, looking for originality in Heavy Metal is rather like looking for sanity in the Kerrang! kamp or searching for the golden fleece. Not easy, practically impossible in fact!

So imagine my joy when confronted by a band named Kick Axe and an album titled (yeah, derivatively) 'Vices'. Not the stuff that rock'n'roll dreams are made of, you might think, just like my good self. Wrong! Oh, so wrong...

'Vices' is a magnificent slab of Heavy Metal music, sufficient in itself to merit a deluge of superlatives, but note and note again that Kick Axe deal in no banal rip-off rifferama! Nah, here the band have laid down ten titanic tormentors with Pasha's Spencer Proffer at the production helm.

Simply, 'Vices' storms out of the speakers, not slaying you immediately but stunning all senses with its off-the-wall beat. How a band can have produced a work so utterly and totally their own within the confines of a genre that has had its path retrodden a thousand times is beyond me! The originality of 'Vices' may be initially disorientating, but ultimately the album emerges as more fulfilling than any other piece of out'n'out direct Metal released this year. Perhaps much of the credit for this must go to Spencer Proffer.

The man who puts the passion into Pasha here combines a top heavy drum/guitar sound and an attention to vocal harmony and musical melody in a manner both unique and unsurpassed. The title track itself proves the point as adequatly as any, a mid-paced stomp that exudes power yet is topped with some beautiful harmonies. Then check out the Aerosmith cruise of 'Maneater', nut-crushing rifferama edged with a melodious chorus to put Styx to shame and a gratuitous but immensely satisfying 'jungle noise' mid-section.

Yet to heap praise on Proffer alone would be to detract from the five-man Kick Axe attack itself. Guitarists Larry Gillstrom and Tom Petty lookalike Raymond Arthur Harvey know how to twist each and every riff to maximum impact and both have the ability to lay down one mean solo (listen to 'On the Road to Rock' and you'll be convinced).

Then again, the Kick Axe rhythm section are no slouches either! Bassist Victor Langen pumps it up with the best of 'em, while Vice Brian Gillstrom ('drums, vocals and responsibility'. For what? Brain damage!) pulses and punishes throughout each and every number! Which only leaves vocalist George Criston, a man with an interesting voice and certainly one strong enough to carry the album, though I'm sure he's yet to reach his peak.

At the end of the day, 'Vices' remain a stunningly powerful rock'n'roll statement and Kick Axe remain a five-piece Canuck attack who comprehensively wipe the smirks from the faces of the current crop of LA HMers. 'Alive & Kickin'' and 'Cause for Alarm', yeah, these guys know what they're talkin' about! Just put me in the firing line cos Kick some serious ass!

Vices at the position No. 9 of the imported albums chart