Max the Axe

VIDEO: Max the Axe – “Blood Runs Red” / Fall at the Lake

Always happy to showcase tunes for Max the Axe, local heavy metal hero and legend!

Here’s another video of cottage memories to help keep us warm during the winter.  A little dark, a little stormy, but a lovely if short fall weekend.  Headphones recommended.  I didn’t take a lot of pictures this time, so only a short song was necessary – “Blood Runs Red” from Million Dollar Threats.

REVIEW: Max the Axe – Bodies of Water (1995 cassette)

MAX THE AXE – Bodies of Water (1995 independant cassette)

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.

4/5 stars

VIDEO: A Drive Around Kitchener / Max the Axe – “Scales of Justice”

Just looking for ways to get some local bands heard.  Seems a drive around Kitchener-Waterloo is a good video background for a band from Kitchener-Waterloo called Max the Axe.

From their sixth record Status Electric comes “Scales of Justice” written by Mike Koutis and Eric Litwiller.  The lyrics tell a truthful tale of why only a fool owns a deadly snake let alone two.

This video is sped up 10x and was filmed on Saturday 9/5/2020 in the afternoon.

VIDEO: Weekend of Awesome

Self explanatory.  Music by MAX THE AXE:  “Livin’ the Country” and “More” from Overload.

#849: Indoor Day

Sunday was what we call an “indoor day” at the lake. This is what I did with my indoor day.

The video took me most of the day, because my poor old laptop (10, this year) couldn’t handle all of the large files at once. So I started over from scratch and figured out a workaround until I was done about 7 hours later. I cooked, I went outside, I played with action figures, and I drank coffee until it finally saved without errors.

This video should scratch itches for a variety of people including:

1) Max the Axe fans – the full song “Randy” is included.
2) Dr. Kathryn Ladano fans – the full song “Masked” is included.
3) Those who enjoy driving videos. This is my first extensive use of my dash cam.
4) Nature buffs. You will hear real lake noises, rainstorms, and waves. You will see more cool underwater footage from the beaches of Lake Huron, and the legendary Greatest Sunset in the World.
5) Marvel / action figure fans. Look for a special “Build A Figure” Hulk.

 

You will not get:

1) Audio of me singing “Kissing Time” by Kiss; this was lost with the first version of the video.
2) Any of my pork chops.

But you can freely:

1) Live vicariously through me and absorb the good vibes through your monitor and speakers.

While visitors showing up on our little private road was not unexpected on a long weekend, it is disappointing when they show such little respect for the people who live here. A guy parked his ATV on our grass and said “Don’t get your knickers in a bunch” when my mom asked several times for him to move it. This came after arguing that he had the right to park there due to a “snow allowance”. There is no such thing.

Then we had Kenny the fireworks guys shooting off a “truck bed” full of firepower at 9:30 Saturday night. That was…distracting. As much as I love this place it certainly has changed in the last 45 years. Enjoy the video — the good the bad and the ugly!

Sunday Video: Max The Axe Weekend

Instead of a Sunday Chuckle, I give you something better: this video (which has a couple chuckles in it) and three Max the Axe songs: “River Grand”, “Overload” and “Gods on the Radio”.

The video above is just a summation of our awesome weekend. Look for a cameo by Superdekes from our Live Streamin’ Weekend. I hope you were able to stay cool in this heat as I was!  Sometimes people talk about the Top Ten Swims they’ve ever had in their lives.  I may have had two of the top ten this weekend.  You be the judge!

And thank you to John Snow of 2 Loud 2 Old Music for the birthday gift below.  I promise I will review it soon!

Also a special Happy Birthday to my Grandma Dolly who turns 96 today!

#836: Transformers 2 – Revenge of the Schnauzers – How It Was Made & Full Movie

GETTING MORE TALE #836: Transformers 2 – Revenge of the Schnauzers

For one weekend in the summer of 2012, I put the music on pause.  Transformers 2 – Revenge of the Schnauzers was the title.  It was a series and  I made four movies in total.  Five, if you count the final one that I shot but never edited.  There’s something so satisfying about animating Transformers.  I wanted to go big or go home this time, and what I ended up with this time was a 44 minute movie (originally split into two parts for file size reasons).

It’s amazing to think I did this movie in a single weekend in July 2012.  Probably Canada Day weekend.  I filmed the whole thing in just two days.  You can see the the light change as I filmed from sunrise to sunset, in order to squeeze time out of every minute.  And this movie was just my side project!  At the same time, I was also posting 1-2 articles per day for my main gig:  reviews and Record Store Tales.

I came prepared for Canada Day weekend with my Nokia C3 cell phone as my only camera.  Here’s something you didn’t know.  Cell phones back then were so much easier to do primitive animation with.  There’s a pause button you could hit when you’re making a video, and it essentially allowed me to do the stop motion very single-handedly, very quickly, just by hitting that pause button.  Sure, I made a few mistakes along the way.  I had to reshoot entire scenes when I didn’t know I was pausing “off” instead of “on”, but it did enable me to do this entire thing in just two days.  I barely stopped to eat, and I was just wiped by the end of it.  I think it was a manic episode to be honest with you, but a doctor never diagnosed that so it’s just my opinion.

I chose the characters (and more importantly, toys) that I wanted to use for the movie.  Most of them are from the Generations lines, with some third party add-on kits for Hound and Goldbug.  Others are reissues of G1 originals:  Soundwave and his tapes, Predaking, and Ultra Magnus.  I needed figures that would be easy to transform on the fly.  Magnus and Predaking were brand new in my collection and I wanted to show them off.  I decided to bring more Decepticons with me than Autobots to give them a real disadvantage.  I built the teams and roughed out a story.  Dialogue was improvised on the spot but not fixed in place until the editing stage a few days later!

I used Windows Movie Maker, then and now, to edit.  It was much less stable then (or at least my computer is more powerful now).  The amount of edits I used numbered in the hundreds and crashes were frequent.  Even though I was essentially editing “live” in-camera as I filmed and animated, I was also tightening up those edits with Windows.  Funny enough, Windows has no more features in the current version than it did in 2012.  For the laser blasts, I added a “split” and inserted a “fade in from white” effect.  They are remarkably effective.

I originally edited the movie with mainstream rock music as the soundtrack.  I used Van Halen, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Bruce Dickinson, and AC/DC among others.  Needless to say, YouTube never let me upload it, so it sat on my various hard drives and DVDs all these years.  Until I recently had an idea.

Uncle Meat’s hatred of my “playing with action figures” inspired me to use his music to get around the YouTube issues.  More accurately, Max the Axe’s music (with a little of my sister’s mixed in).  It worked brilliantly.  Just as well as the original version, though with music you’re not familiar with.

Now you can hear many of these great Max the Axe tracks for yourself.  While watching robots blow each other to bits!

Sure, it was cool when I used “Accident of Birth” by Bruce Dickinson as the entrance music for the Colossus Schnauzers and….

Oh!  You’re confused about the Schnauzers.  Having grown up around the wee beasts, I realized that in action figure scale, you could use them as giant monsters if you could get them to do what you wanted them to do.  With Kathryn Ladano’s help, we used treats as incentives to chase and attack Autobots.  I affixed Decepticon logos to their foreheads and wrote them into the story as Shockwave’s latest creation:  Colossus Schnauzers.  With DNA stolen from a secret lab (named after the two doggies Laci and Ali), the Decepticons engineered giant versions of the beasts.

It’s up to the Autobots to find out what they are up to, with a small squad led by Ultra Magnus.  (I had focused on Optimus Prime in the preceding chapter with his death and rebirth as Powermaster Prime, so I wanted a different leader figure this time.)  I used two Bumblebee figures.  One was modified with a third-party head that made him into a Generations version of Goldbug, his rebuilt form.  This is all roughly based on an original Marvel comics storyline.  I also took inspiration from the TV show.  One figure that I wanted to show off next time was my transparent “Ghost Starscream”.  I didn’t have time to get into that with this chapter, so I ended it with some foreshadowing that would allow me to introduce my ghost version of the figure next time.

I coloured the dialogue to make it easier to tell which ‘bot is talking. I did an “infodump” introduction for the Predacons.  This is the much-critisized technique used by Bob Budiansky in the 80s Marvel series.  Each new toy had an introduction, because the comic was just a device to sell toys.  That was my homage to Budiansky.  The characterisations of the figures in my film are meant to be true to their toy bios and comic book appearances. Although my story takes place in a universe all its own, it’s similar to the ones you know.  The “release the Schnauzers” scene is of course a parody of the the Kraken scene in Clash of the Titans.  I wanted something that reminded me of Poseidon pulling the chain that opened the big gate.

I haven’t watched this movie for a long time. I had forgotten that I even included a “blooper reel” at the end. This is the only part of the movie that still has its original music soundtrack. Though I’ve forgotten the name of the track, that’s Kathryn Ladano’s music playing and that’s her in her only cameo!

Consider that I shot this thing in two days, sunrise to sunset, and edited it together in a couple more, all while posting new daily reviews and Record Store Tales. That’s unbelievable and probably also unhealthy. But I still enjoy the results! I legitimately like this. I also enjoyed adding the new music by Max the Axe and seeing how it worked out.  I’m proud enough to post it here for you to enjoy. And I hope you do!

Sunday Chuckle: Office Christmas with Axes and Bitches

I don’t know what kind of workplace books Max the Axe and Nancy Vicious and the Nasty Bitches for their office Christmas party!?  The kind I want to work at, obviously.  Here’s Max’s lead singer Uncle Meat with the lowdown.

VIDEO: A “Kick Axe” Weekend + next series preview!

The first weekend of August is a long weekend in Ontario.  It’s called the Civic holiday, but people in retail still have to work it.  I did, almost every single year at the Record Store.  This year we spent the holiday at the lake, where I secretly began work on the next review series here at mikeladano.com.  With the encouragement of my good buddy Superdekes, two posts were completed at the lake, on the front porch.  You couldn’t have asked for a better setting.

As usual I’ve assembled a video of some of our weekend fun, all to the tune of Max the Axe (“My Daddy Was A Murderin’ Man”, and “Call of the Wild”).  Check out crystal clear waters, mountains of food, and rock and roll.  And of course that sneak preview for our next review series!

REVIEW: Max the Axe – Overload (2008 EP)

MAX THE AXE – Overload (2008 Mutant Mind EP)

The ever-prolific Max the Axe has plenty of CDs under his belt, but the 2008 EP Overload is one of his most pleasing.  Featuring vocalist Terry Guirey, Overload has six rocking tunes, clocking in at roughly 18 minutes.  No fuss, no muss, no fat to be trimmed.

Opener “Overload” (heard in the video below) begins quiet and ominously enough, but just when you’re expecting a Scorpions power ballad to start, in comes the heavy! “If I told you once, I told you over and over,” sings Guirey over a simple grungey punk riff. “‘Cause I’m prone to overload…” he says, so stand back. No guitar solo, just punk rock heaviness.

A jolt of feedback in “Blood Runs Red” illustrates the rawness of the recording. All you need is a riff and a melody, and Max serves it up blood-raw. He’s also not content to only give you just one riff per song! That’s also the case with “Labyrinth”, which settles into a nice groove.

If “River Grand” sounds familiar, it should. 10 years later, it was re-vamped with vocalist extraordinaire Eric “Uncle Meat” Litwiller on the Status Electric album.  While the Meat version is superior due to a tour-de-force vocal performance, the original still rocks with a grungier flavour.

A pair of Max favourites closes the CD.  “Livin’ the Country” and “Mexican Standoff” have to be heard live to fully appreciate them.  The CD will have to do for now.  “Livin’ the Country” is like Paranoid-era Sabbath, loosely riffing your balls off.  Stand by for a unique, patented Max guitar solo.  Then “Put your hands up!” for the “Mexican Standoff”.  If you live to tell the tale, you’ll want to hear it again.

Max should consider re-recording some more of these songs with Litwiller.  Max has the goods on Overload, an excellent primer for what was yet to come.

3.5/5 stars