[published]: 1985, January
[in]: Rock!, Vol. 2, No. 3, p. 51
[article]: Kick Axe's Heady Metal Shuffle
[by]: Audrey Wright

Kick Axe literally erupts onto vinyl with a unique approach to music that is definitely "heady" metal. The band's debut LP, Vices, features a variation of styles that significantly widens the horizons of metal music lovers. Bang your head with class!

The Vancouver based Kick Axe combines all the classic features of metal-lunging rhythms, fiery guitar and throaty vocals-with elements of jazz, and the result is an album that throbs with life and intensity.

Kick Axe was formed eight years ago in a rough-and-tumble neighborhood in Saskatchewan, Canada. Fired up with ambition and their love of bands like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and The Who, Larry Gillstrom and Victor Langen decided to channel their teen-age energies into music instead of street fights.

"There was real pressure to join a gang," recalls Victor. "But if you were in a rock'n'roll band, you were instantly accepted. So we wound up performing at the gangs' parties," he laughs.

The two guys took Kick Axe on the road, touring northern Canada. They juggled cover tunes with their originals, and after a while they linked up with guitarist Ray Harvey and the Larry's skinpounding brother, Brian. Over the years the group's line-up changed several times in search of the perfect combination.

Kick Axe rapidly became the most successful unsigned act in Vancouver, regularly selling out major club dates. They soon got to be especially known for their dynamically staged shows and, chuckles Larry, "for throwing the best after-hours parties on the road. The details are unprintable!" he gloats.

Still, a major record deal eluded Kick Axe, until they recruited lead vocalist George Criston, an American who was creating his own musical stir on the Milwaukee music scene. Things happened fast after that. The band signed with Star Command Management which arranged for Quiot Riot producer Spencer Proffer to check them out in concert. Spencer was so impressed by the group's aggressive musical approach and distinctive vocal combinations that he immediately signed them to Pasha Records.

Vices features 10 songs written by the group, including two they wrote with Proffer.

Kick Axe's masterly songwriting talents are one of their strongest features. "Larry brings up a lot of the lyrical ideas," explains George, "and everybody has an even input when we all get together. It's a good formula. It's like new material comes into a group of five people and we work it until it's totally rearranged."

The guys are a real fun loving, irrepressible bunch who admit that playing practical jokes on each other and partying are the only way to keep their sanity on the road. Vices provides us with a taste of things to come, 'cause the group is already busy working on another album.