AXE TOSS – Deception

AXE TOSS – Deception

Can blackened Viking death metal successfully mix with groove? This Norwegian quintet attempts to prove it can on their debut album, as they meld "The Avenger" Amon Amarth riffs, "Antigone" Heaven Shall Burn melodies and "Sacrament" Lamb Of God rhythm for an interesting, if flawed slab of extreme craft.

Axe Toss was probably formed around 2016 or 2017, as the earliest traces of the band’s existence is the "Zeragon" single (2017). Consisting of Marius Vanebo (vocals), Tore Andre Kristensen (guitar), David Hovde (guitar), Mikkel Tellnes (bass) and Torgeir Aambø (drums) Axe Toss wear their most obvious influence on their sleeves – early and most devastating Amon Amarth, particularly "The Avenger" known for its huge, melodic cascading riffs. As Amon Amarth sounds similar to one of their influences, the German metalcore/melodeathsters Heaven Shall Burn, that influence cohabits your perception, pointing to "Antigone/Deaf To Our Prayers" , often epic melodicism. But the biggest surprise is the rhythmic/technical groove of Lamb Of God circa "Sacrament/Wrath", all of which somehow works more often than not, especially since Marius’ vocals most of the time sound as if Johan Hegg (Amon Amarth) and Marcus Bischoff (Heaven Shall Burn) occupied his body at the same time, but, at other times, he channels a mean if convincing David Randall "Randy" Blythe (Lamb Of God).

Axe Toss gives us a decent variety on "Deception" and the best tracks are not always of the same ore. Take, for instance, the very aggressive black/death of the title track or the Ade/Behemoth-ian quite progressive scorcher "Wackentown", or how about the anthemic Black Sabbath-ian "Min Frende" with some "Haven" Dark Tranquility-ian melodiscism, the only song with clean vocals which are performed by guest vocalist Danny Valle Johannessen, and who can fail to take note of the excellent closer, "Death and Decay" with that very unique stop and go riff turned ferocious death/thrash, topped with the excellent Mastodon-ian ending?

If only the quality was maintained throughout this would have been a marvelous album, instead of a very good one it is. For instance, "Condemnation" is rather generic and short, while "Hands Of Eir" doesn’t have enough hooks or melody, although the slightly early Hypocrisy-ic "Through the Mist" does come very close to a standout.

Brutally and powerfully produced Axe Toss’ debut does put one on notice and there are already signs of great songwriting and instrumental talent, but, perhaps, we can mix the groove more with melody in one track next while upping the progression on the follow up in order to give, dare you dream it, Amon Amarth’s run for their money? I will be interested to see where your budding creativity will take you next, Axe Toss.