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Review – Stone Axe – Stone Axe II Expanded Edition

Stone Axe III could have sworn for the life of me that I reviewed this album when it came out 2 years ago. I guess I was wrong. I’m not sure why, perhaps it was because when I got it, I listened to it so much that it consumed me. How much? Well imagine Spiderman and the alien suit which lead into the Venom storyline (the comic, not the movie). Yeah, that much.

While the album is 2 years old, since it’s release, Stone Axe have signed with the fine folks at Ripple-Music. Following hot off the heels of last years first album reissue, Stone Axe II boasts a lot more punch. Besides the original album, there’s a bonus disc full of so much content that it’s liable to keep you locked up in your room for days playing it over and over again.

The first disc is the original album. The band wears their influences so loud that I think they have a denim vest with each influences patches sewn proudly on it. I can imagine it now, the guys wearing those vests with the band patches of Thin Lizzy, Free, Judas Priest, AC/DC and Mountain adorned all over. “Old Soul” is the Free-ish sounding tune to kick off the album in grand style. The second song, my favorite on the album is “We Know It’s Still Rock ‘N’ Roll.” I firmly believe that Bon Scott took a day away from the grave to record this track. It’s so “Big Balls” sounding that to the untrained ear, may pass off as an unreleased AC/DC song. “Those Were The Golden Years,” with Tony Reed on vocals is a very Phil Lynott like, Jailbreak era Thin Lizzy. Those are just a few (of the many) highlights of the first disc of an amazing album.

The second disc is what I refer to as the treasure disc. The disc is filled with a collection of material from both the first and second disc, the Extended Play EP as well vinyl and 7″ only material. This is where this release really shines (although the first disc shines brighter than the Sun itself). It opens with “SWLABR”, a Cream cover which is VERY faithful to the original. I’m sure Jack Bruce has heard it and thought “why didn’t we play it like that.” “Black Widow (mkI)” is next. It’s a different take on the song song from the first album. As it starts off you hear “Black Widow take 3.” This version of the song is a bit slower on the tempo. “Shine On” was previously available only on the LP version of Stone Axe. “Rhinoceros (restored)” is next. This song is an instrumental song originaly on Stone Axe as well. This version is the full uncut version. This version is about a minute longer and includes a drum solo that was cut from the original. “King of Everything,” which was originally on the Extended Play EP is next. It’s a 70’s based hard rocking tune. “When I Came” down, a 7″ only release is an early Black Sabbath cover. It’s a pretty damn faithful cover to the original. I think I prefer Dru over Ozzy on this song. The bass line really stands out on this song. “Taking Me Home (Live),” is a Thin Lizzy-ish song taken from the Extended Play EP. “Stonin” is a fast paced, short and right to the point instrumental. It was released previously on a 7″ release. “The Devil’s Hand,” a Mountain sound tunes is next and was also a 7″ exclusive. “Metal Damage,” an early Judas Priest sounding is next. It was previously on a split with The Mighty High, released through Ripple-Music. “For All That Fly” is a southern rock sounding song. I can hear bits of The Marshall Tucker Band in this one. It features acoustic guitar and is a bit slower than the rest of the disc. It is a bit of a departure from what they’re known to do. The song was on the euro release of Stone Axe II. “Nightwolf” is Stone Axe covering Mos Generator. It was previously on the Heavy Ripples Vol. 1 album. It’s very faithful to the original which features Dru on vocals as opposed to Tony (on the Mos version). The next 3 songs, “The Last Setting Sun,” “Slice The Darkness” and Transmission pt. II” are all from the recently released split LP with German sensations Wight. These songs are a lot different than what you’re used to. The songs are longer, mellow and have a bit of a psychedelic element to them. The solos are phenomenal. I’m not sure what direction the band is headed with new material but if this is it, we’re all in for a nice treat.

Stone Axe have NEVER disappointed this reviewer as well as many others based on their own reviews I’ve read. Stone Axe touts themselves as 70’s rock preservationists and they are right on the money with it. If you missed Stone Axe II when it was released a few years ago or you’re itching for new material that you haven’t heard before, this release is right up your alley. It’s available now from Ripple-Music.

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