[published]: 2016, April 17
[in]: Metal Nexus
[article]: Oldchool Sunday: KICK AXE
[by]: Dragon

Kick Axe is a Canadian heavy metal band that emerged from Regina, Saskatchewan during the early 1980's and were on the path to fame with their incredible trio of early album releases. Kick Axe formed in 1976 by Larry Gillstrom (guitar), Victor Langen (vocals/bass guitar) and his brother Gary Langen (drums).

By 1978, they added a second guitarist in Raymond Harvey and decided to relocate to Vancouver, British Columbia for increased exposure. They began to record their debut album at the time also but later scrapped the sessions saying that they needed a more powerful frontman/singer thus entered Charles McNary. It was around this time that they issued their first 2-song Demo with "Keep On Riding & Ashes To Ashes" in 1979 and another 2 tracker, "Weekend Ride & One More Time" in 1981.

The band begin to make waves in their region with him on board and were even included on a Playboy album compilation during this time however, McNary exited the band in 1981 and after an international search, he was replaced by George Criston, giving Kick Axe the "distinguished front man" they had long desired. Shortly after his joining, the group signed a major record contract with Pasha Records.

In 1984 Kick Axe released their debut full-length album "Vices" to much critical acclaim and to this day, "Vices" remains one of my own all-time favorite debuts and 80's records.

The propelling effect of the album and several Singles released from it was felt and seen immediately as they were soon opening for acts like Judas Priest, Whitesnake, and their label mates Quiet Riot.

That upward drive was fueled by the strength of songs/singles "Heavy Metal Shuffle", "On The Road To Rock", and a cassette-only cover of Humble Pie's "30 Days In The Hole" which also appeared on the "Up The Creek" movie soundtrack in 1984. It also appeared on two separate MuchMusic compilations as well.

Before 1984 was over, Kick Axe also released a live album "Captured Live" via RKO Records and with plans to quickly capitalize on their popularity at the time, went in and knocked out their second full-length "Welcome To The Club" also released via Pasha in 1985.

While this album contained several guest appearances, it also strayed away from their rock anthems for a more radio-friendly sound and despite it reaching Billboard's Top 200, it disappointed many fans of the band at the time (not me though, I think it's another killer record from the group to this day).

In 1986, the band appeared on the Transformers: The Movie soundtrack with two contributions but they did so under the band name Spectre General due to some ongoing legal issues at the time.

The two songs they provided were "Hunger" (later covered by King Kobra on their 1985 album "Ready To Strike") and "Nothin's Gonna Stand In Our Way" (a cover of a John Farnham song from the film "Savage Streets").

Guitarist Raymond Harvey departed the band in 1986 and they carried on as a four piece ultimately recording their third album "Rock The World"... which did exactly that with it's return to a heavier style direction.

There was some media attention given to the record's cover of the Fleetwood Mac classic "The Chain" but things were idling for the band.

They had also undergone a label change as this record was released on the major Epic Records but things were beginning to stall for the band and there was little fanfare for this album and by 1988 Epic dropped Kick Axe and they officially broke up that same year.

Fast forward to 2003, the year that Kick Axe reformed with original vocalist Gary Langen and in 2004 they released their fourth album "IV" through MTM Records but it only made a dent with longtime fans of the band and by 2008 Langen left the band and was replaced with former Into Eternity singer Daniel Nargang. This line up occasionally plays festivals and on "special occasions" but the band is apparently not 100% active at this time.