[published]: 2004, September 28
[in]: Sea of Tranquility
[article]: 'Kick Axe IV' album review
[by]: Michael Popke

I tend to be leery of so-called reunion albums, especially from bands that I don't think were really missed that much in the first place. But I've happily been proven wrong in recent years, with comeback efforts from XYZ and Statetrooper standing out, in particular. Now I can add Canada's Kick Axe to the list. This band issued three melodic, hook-filled rather sleazy-sonding albums on CBS/Sony Records between 1983 and 1987 and opened up for Judas Priest, Rush, the Scorpions, Metallica and Whitesnake back in the day.

Vices, Kick Axe's debut, even garnered comparisons to Aerosmith, Van Halen and Kiss. Today, the Kick Axe sound is a bit more mature and darker. Granted, IV is still a hard-rock record, but it isn't a typical hard-rock record. Its tone, pace, composition and overall vibe hint at something grander, as if Kick Axe are trying to make up for lost time by incorporating the musicians' collective influences culled over the past two decades.

Everyone from the band's original lineup is here, save singer George Criston. That's a shame, considering Criston's soaring voice was (and still may be) more crystalline and dynamic than that of Gary Langen, who began as Kick Axe's drummer, left the band to be replaced by his brother, Brian, and now handles lead vocals and additional percussion. IV, however, remains a commendable effort from a band trying to re-establish itself and move on at the same time. The name is still stupid, but what can ya do?