Max the Axe’s stellar new album Status Electric didn’t pop out of thin air. Before he nailed it with that CD, Max had five prior releases. Status Electric included a couple songs from the previous album Trillion Dollar Threats. “River Grand” was vastly improved with Eric “Uncle Meat” Litwiller’s vocals. Though it’s no Status Electric, Trillion Dollar Threats is still an entertaining slab of rock.
Trillion Dollar Threats features a variety of players. There are several singers: Geoff Dyke, Ted Moore, John Kelly, Mickey Straight, Ted Guirey, and Eric Litwiller. That’s almost enough singers to staff the entire career of Black Sabbath! Over the 16 tracks, there’s not a lot of cohesiveness, but there is a lot of rock.
“Overload” is a heavy-as-fuck opener, 80s thrash metal through and through. It’s all about that chug, but the vocals seem like an afterthought. “Guns to Iran” takes a spoken word approach, over a heavy riff, but when the singer (Geoff Dyke) attempts to sing…it ain’t good. Mickey Straight improves things immediately on “Daddy Was a Murderin’ Man”. There’s some punk rock in Max the Axe and this is where it comes out (guitar solo notwithstanding). Maybe a little Faster Pussycat or LA Guns too.
Max is the master of the chugging heavy metal guitar. “Labyrinth” has that, before meandering around a few different bits. It’s a good groove that could use some editing. “I Don’t Advocate Drugs” has a good riff coupled with entertaining lyrics. For more amusement, there’s “Belljar Party”, the story of stuff going missing after a party. “Whoever it was, they took my Walkman too.” Other cool tracks include the spacey “Mutant Mind”, “Livin’ the Country”, and “Mexican Standoff”.
According to Litwiller, “Uptite Friday Night” is the exact same version as the one on Status Electric. That’s OK because the sloppy drunk vibe is perfect. The original “River Grand” has Terry Guirey singing, but although this is the blueprint the Litwiller version is clearly better. He took it in a more grungy Alice in Chains direction.
Look at Trillion Dollar Threats as a stepping stone to Status Electric. All the band members (Max, Eric, Dave Haslam and Mike Mitchell) are there on one track or another. Status Electric couldn’t be as great as it is without Trillion Dollar Threats laying the groundwork. It needed to be cut down from 16 tracks (way too much for most albums), and some of the tracks need some tightening, but there is some decent rock on Trillion Dollar Threats. If you like metal in the retro style, there will be plenty of riffs here for you to digest.