XI: The Days Before Tomorrow

Lillian Axe

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XI: The Days Before Tomorrow Review

by Eduardo Rivadavia

Lillian Axe's best hopes of achieving notable commercial success (or, heck, even a modest awareness that they still exist) are likely long in the past, but that hasn't stopped the New Orleans-based hard rockers -- led by virtually self-sufficient lead guitarist, keyboardist, and songwriter Steve Blaze -- from forging stubbornly into the future. The group's 2010 LP, Deep Red Shadows, was intriguingly split into predominantly electric/acoustic halves, and impressed on both counts; its 2012 follow-up, XI: The Days Before Tomorrow, doesn't even need such gimmicks to do the same, and provides a promising introduction to new singer Brian C. Jones to boot. Stand-out melodic rockers like "Babylon," "Across the Great Divide," and "Lava on My Tongue" balance quasi-metallic power with a studiously direct songwriting touch derived from ‘80s AOR, and Blaze's tasteful acoustic guitar makes a memorable return on both "Bow Your Head" and "My Apologies." Rather more curious, the evocative piano of "Death Comes Tomorrow" brings Savatage to mind before its melody ascends in dramatic fashion à la Iron Maiden's "Dune (To Tame a Land)"; then, the descending pattern of "Gather Up the Snow" recalls Ozzy Osbourne's "S.A.T.O." -- huh! Clearly, '80s metal is still an integral part of Lillian Axe's musical makeup, and it's therefore predictable that its aging consumers will be the ones to "get" what XI: The Days Before Tomorrow is all about: tradition and perseverance. Time has moved on and Blaze and co. have not moved on with it, but given where we now sit in the long arc of rock & roll history -- its best days are probably in the rearview mirror anyway -- one can't really blame Lillian Axe for sticking with what they know.

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