Axxis - Kingdom of the Night II - Black Edition
Hard Rock / Melodic Metal
11 songs (42'41)
Release year: 0
Axxis, Phonotraxx
Reviewed by Chris
Album of the month

It's been 25 years since Axxis released their successful debut album with EMI, Kingdom of the Night. My history with this band started that year, I was 14 years old. My brother came home with a bag of new vinyls and took KotN out and handed it to me and told me: I think you will like this. Boy was he spot on ! At the time I was into bands like Bon Jovi, KISS and Magnum and Axxis was soon a band to add to my all-time favorites. I've been a die-hard Axxis fan since then. So it was with very high expectation that I waited for the anniversary album, and Axxis didn't disappoint since they released two albums at once, a Black edition with stronger, more powerful songs, and a White edition that has more (for the most part) softer stuff.

This review will focus on the Black Edition. The album starts with the song Kingdom of the Night II, and after a few seconds old fans will recognize the hooks immediately as this is a sort of an homage to the original, Axxis deliberately copied themselves on this song and updated it, but it's almost the same song with a better sound. It's a way for the band to say thank you for the songs that made their career. I can't help but hoped they would have done this with Never Say Never but well... So no surprise there with the opener, but it did give me a good feeling that the album(s) would sound a lot like their debut. Except on a few tracks where the rhythm is cranked up a bit, the tone of KotD II is pretty similar to what Axxis did in the beginning of their careers (first three albums), so if you are waiting for a bombastic sound a la Paradise in Flames, you might get disappointed. But if you're a true fan of their entire discography, then KotN II delivers again and again ! The guitar hooks are simply amazing, with great solos and really catchy melodies. It feels like 1989 again and at the same time it sounds new and fresh. I fell in love with the albums with my first listen, to a point where I didn't notice the missing power metal elements in their sound. But if you like catchy songs, amazing vocals and great guitar work, then you should love KotN no matter it's "Power" level. Speaking of vocals, Bernhard Weiss is one of my all-time favorite singers and I must say that he is in top form here ! Like a good wine, he gets better with age. His vocals are simply perfect, from depth to technique, he is spot on all the way through !

The band went to great length to sound like they did back in 1989 and it shows, they used old equipment that they had used on the debut and and added some noise & artifacts and old tape for saturation to reach this goal. The production overall is great and it does help feel like a similar sound to KotN but it does at the same time sound a little thinner than albums like Paradise in Flames, Doom of Destiny or Utopia.

What I love about these albums is that not only it reminds me of their debut but KotN II actually feels like a compilation of their entire careers, songs like The War for instance reminds me of The Big Thrill, Beyond The Sky with its faster tempo and more explosive chorus is more Power Metal oriented and could have been in Paradise in Flames. Overall with 22 songs spread on 2 discs, I feared the albums would be filled with filler tracks. And I'm happy to report these are kept to a minimum. I think there are only 1 track per album I could have lived without. On the Black Edition it's the last track Bites Inside, that doesn't do much for me, it's still a good song with a good hook, but if it wasn't there I wouldn't miss it. Most of the other songs have really positive melodies and are mostly super catchy. I love Never Again that feels like a roller coaster ride both vocally and guitar wise, and that can summarize what Axxis is all about in this one song alone. Most songs are 3 to 4 minutes. There's also a German song, Lass Dich Gehn and what a killer song that is with a great hook and a powerful chorus.

But I'm not gonna lie, while there is no doubts in my mind that this album is a masterpiece with fantastic vibe and a great collections of songs, I wished there was more songs with a more Power Metal vibe (more songs like Beyond the Sky ), and I hope Axxis next release will be more in the veins of what the band presented in their last 4-5 previous albums (since Time Machine basically). I have no doubts that original fans of the band will absolutely love these releases, but the newer fan might experience an Edguy moment, wondering where the Power Metal has gone. However these albums are true gift for old time fans of the band, because they truly represent the essence of what Axxis is, from slower songs to more bombastic ones (even though they aren't that many), the album flows naturally and contain some of the best guitar work in all of Axxis career. Vocals are also perfect and as always the vocal melodies are so strong they make the listener want to sing, hum or whistle along, and that is the true power of Axxis at the end of the day. The albums will be released on February 28th 2014, the exact same day (25 years later) that Kingdom of the Night was released. Happy anniversary Axxis, here is to 25 more years of great melodic metal ! Thumbs up !

Killing Songs :
Kingdom of the Night II, Venom, Beyond the Sky, The War, Never Again, Soulfire, Lass Dich Gehn & Mary Married a Monster.
Chris quoted 92 / 100
Other albums by Axxis that we have reviewed:
Axxis - Kingdom of the Night II - White Edition reviewed by Chris and quoted 90 / 100
Axxis - ReDISCOver(ed) reviewed by Chris and quoted no quote
Axxis - Utopia reviewed by Kyle and quoted 88 / 100
Axxis - Doom Of Destiny reviewed by Chris and quoted 94 / 100
Axxis - Paradise In Flames reviewed by Chris and quoted 95 / 100
To see all 16 reviews click here
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