Thursday, January 26, 2012

Maax - Unholy Rock & Roll

Unholy Rock & Roll
Abyss Records

Twelve months after releasing their stop-gap E.P. ‘Six Pack Witchcraft’, Indianapolis (U.S.) based black metal rock ‘n’ rollers Maax are back with their long awaited sophomore effort ‘Unholy Rock & Roll’. Much like the progression shown between their debut full-length effort (2009’s ‘Dawnbringer’) and their follow-up E.P., ‘Unholy Rock & Roll’ showcases another step up for the band, with their latest effort filled to the brim with ungodly rock ‘n’ roll anthems, presented in a suitable blackened manner.
The five piece outfit (Who have maintained the line-up of vocalist Tim Green, guitarist Brett Schlagel and Kyle Kreider, bassist Jeremy Starkey and drummer James Brown) get straight down to business in a menacing and speedy manner with ‘Coldest Steel’. It’s immediately clear that production values have improved greatly this time around, with the layers of suffocation heard on their last E.P. being lifted to make way for a more cutting and clearer sound. But despite the better production, there’s still plenty of rawness heard in the guitars and Green’s vocals to please fans of death ‘n’ roll. Song wise, there’s a nice array of riffs within ‘Coldest Steel’ to keep things interesting throughout, and the level of aggression on offer at the start is sure to please listeners to no end.
Shades of Venom with a little more musical ability can be heard in the straight forward attack of the follow-up track ‘Fight With Fire’, while on the title track ‘Unholy Rock & Roll’, the band tone down their satanic edge enough (Even if it’s just a little bit) to allow a bit more of their rock ‘n’ roll tendencies (Which is obvious given the song starts with the sound of a revving motorbike).
Whether it’s deliberate or not is hard to tell, but the riff structure within ‘Do What Thou Wilt’ does remind me of Mötley Crüe’s ‘Too Young To Fall In Love’ in places, while ‘Maax’ brings to mind Motörhead in both construction and lyrical content.
‘Rot ‘N’ Roll’ boasts a lot of lead work which is well done, and is by far one of the album’s catchier efforts, and for that very reason stands out as a favourite, while the blackened thrash-like ‘Overthrone’, ‘Black Thrash Em’ All’ and the mid-paced closer ‘One More Time’ are the best the remainder of the album has to offer.
There are a lot of bands on the death ‘n’ roll scene these days, and while many of them claim to offer up highly energetic death metal with a genuine rock ‘n’ roll drive, few actually deliver. Maax is the exception to the case, with their ‘Unholy Rock & Roll’ album more than living up to its name.

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© Justin Donnelly