Featuring members of Bullet for My Valentine and Cancer Bats members, one could argue that AxeWound is a bit of a supergroup. Unveiled in May of 2012 and featuring Matt Tuck (guitars, vocals), Liam Cormier (vocals), Mike Kingswood (guitar), Joe Copcutt (bass), and Jason Bowld (drums), there’s little doubting the fact that this group hits hard.
Their debut, Vultures, is a riff-infused salvo of super heavyweight stuff. It’s a fun listen, one that seems to come in the spirit of AxeWound influences like Slipknot and Pantera. The songs are striking, capable of digging holes in heads after just one listen.
Lyrically, however, Vultures leaves a lot to be desired. There’s little innovation and sometimes things swerve into some truly tacky terrain. At the same time, there’s something euphoric about the defiant simplicity and shout-along splendour of such elementary drivel.
The record opens with the title track, a pummelling mass of guitars fuelled in large part by Bowld’s hammering drums. The Pitchshifter drummer beats the hell out of his kit all over the album and really sets the tone on “Vultures,” battering with diabolical fills. Avenged Sevenfold guitarist Synyster Gates chimes in with a solo.
The first single, “Post Apocalyptic Party,” follows with a driving Pantera-like gallop. Cormier’s vocals seem to especially take their cue from Philip Anselmo, while a six-string powered mid-tempo chorus plows through.
“Cold,” the second single, isn’t as strong. It doesn’t help that the track rings like something from the boring nu-metal wave, complete with clichéd harmonies and scowling, whispered backing vocals. It also feels overly busy, lacking thrash metal punch and boasting lyrics that sound like they were cribbed from abandoned LiveJournal pages.
“ExoChrist” is one of the album’s most interesting cuts. It reads partially as a tongue-in-cheek take on fist-pumping Christian power metal, but packs enough contemporary touches that it’s possible AxeWound meant for it to be taken seriously. For all the fury of the verses and bridge, the chorus feels off.
AxeWound tries to shift the mood with “Collide,” a middling melodic epic that doesn’t exactly hit hard. The piano-led neo-ballad does well with streaks of strings thanks to Matt Bond, but the chorus does little to drive it home.
Still, Vultures is an entertaining listen even when it misses the mark. The experiment may be a one-off, a statement of attitude more than of intent, but it’s a pretty good record all the same.