[published]: 2004, December
[in]: Fireworks, No. 18, p. 54
[article]: 'Kick Axe IV' album review
[by]: Phil Ashcroft

As any regular readers of Fireworks will know, Kick Axe were one of my favourite bands, and their first couple of albums were at the very pinnacle of quirky 80's hard rock. Their self-produced 3rd album 'Rock the World' didn't live up to expectations, and neither unfortunately does their comeback CD, but there are some good moments here so I'm not writing them just off.

Due to the non-appearance of killer vocalist George Criston, bassist Victor Langen's brother Gary (the band's original singer in the 70's) has stepped back into the breach, and despite his voice being inferior, thankfully it still sounds like Kick Axe. The dense guitars and soaring solos of Larry Gillstrom and Ray Arthur Harvey are still there, as are the huge drums of Larry's brother Brian, the phased bass of Langen, and the trademark Kick Axe choir vocals.

Unfortunately though some of the songs just don't cut it, and while it's admirable to deliver a long 14 track album, the 10 best ones would have left a better impression.

Things start off well with the anthemic groove of 'Right Now', and the mid-paced and appropriately titled 'Rockin' Daze', and continue strongly through the more laid-back and tuneful 'Consolation' and the typically intelligent, multifaceted 'Turn to Stone'. So far so good, but the album stalls on the average 'Do You Know' and the simply lifeless 'Who Knows Ya'. The nice swing of 'Voe' and the huge lumbering, drum-driven 'Time' get things back on track, but by this time you notice that there's nothing upbeat going on. You have the semi-ballads, and the slow-thumping rockers, but there's no 'Cause for Alarm', no 'Make Your Move', and not even 'Rock the World'.

'Slip Inside My Dream' and 'Rock 'n' Roll Dog' are both distinctly average, while 'Who Says?', 'Black Heart', 'City Lights', and the epic 'The Only Ones Here' just about save the album. The production is pretty good for an indie, and the band play well throughout, but with Criston sadly missed and too many songs that simply aren't good enough, this would be an even less fitting epitaph to a great band than 'Rock the World' was. Hopefully there's more life left in them than they've shown here.