This has to be one of the rarest items I own. I have acquired the only remaining cassette copy of the first Max the Axe release, a five song tape called Bodies of Water. In a rare move, the cassette had the bonus track rather than the CD. Back in 1995, Max the Axe didn’t have a drummer so the drums on this release are programmed. That lends it a streetwise but quaint mid-90s nostalgia.
Opening intensely with “Hard Drive”, Max the Axe’s music defies genres from the first track. Heavy sludge riffs, flute, saxophone, a keyboard orchestra! Lead vocals on this track by Pam Hammond leap beyond expectation as she bellows powerfully over the complex track. You get more sax (courtesy Rockin’ Randy Harrison) on “Where’s Pablo?” featuring Mickey Straight on lead vocals. This has a cool, dirty street vibe groove.
The cassette bonus track “Guns To Iran” is dead center, and features “Max the Swinging Axe” on distorted lead vocals. Pure metal on electronic steroids. I’m immediately reminded of “Manic Mechanic” by ZZ Top, but a thrash metal version.
“I’m Glad Now” has another singer, Tim Rolland, and a completely different vibe. Straight noctural, memorable melodic hard rock with a growly singer. But then the screamer “Fair Ophelia” ends the cassette on a seriously heavy note. Pam Hammond and Max the Axe return on vocals, assaulting the ear with aggressive heaviness. Max does the metal grunting while Hammond sings in classic screamin’ metal style.
This is good stuff and surprisingly well preserved 25 years later. Max’s sharp jabs of guitar solo adrenaline still rock the speakers with intended impact. Maybe the Axe will remaster and reissue his early tunes so the rest of you can hear them too.