Witch Cross – Axe To Grind (Hells Headbangers)

Thursday, 30th May 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

Danish metal outside of Mercyful Fate, offshoot King Diamond, and current Elvis-metal headliners Volbeat has maintained more of a cult-status appeal across the globe. Take the traditional act Witch Cross for instance – slugging it out with a series of demos in the early 80’s and eventually releasing their debut album Fit for Fight in 1984 in the beginning years for Roadrunner, they faded into obscurity in 1986. Thanks to a series of interviews to keep the name burning Witch Cross reunited, and here we have their second full length, Axe to Grind.

Their sound is classic heavy metal, designed for syncopated stage moves, air guitar maneuvers, and call to respond chorus chants from the stage for the audience to return loud and proud. Paul Martini and Mike ‘Wlad’ Kock as six string slingers know how to double up the harmonies for maximum melodic majesty – check out the opening sequence to “Awakening – Pandoras Box” or the semi-galloping “Lost Without Warning” for a tutorial in European/NWOBHM inspired interplay.

Current vocalist Kevin Moore has an early Biff Byford nature to his voice, very bluesy but 100% true to the bone, easily able to keep up with the up tempo proceedings on “Ride With the Wind” just as much as a steadfast slower, more anthem-oriented effort like “Part of the Machine.” And this record wouldn’t be old-school without an Iron Maiden-ish instrumental like the title track with those stair step, spider web guitar/bass parts we treasure from metal’s youth.

Even the production is bare-bones with guitar tones and drum sounds as ‘analog’ as one can get in the digital age. Grab your denim and leather, sew on your back patches, and raise your fist for Witch Cross. Traditional metal may never grow back to an arena sell out status, but they still can gain appeal to the over 35 demographic.

Witch Cross official site