Reviews for Axehandle...
Dr.Jones - Roadburn Magazine
The fact that Axehandle is comprised of 3/5 of Alabama Thunderpussy is not what drew me to this album. What made me giddy about this release was when I read that there were two drummers ripping away "not in a jam band kind of way, but in a crushing tribal way." Even at that, Erik Larson said, "We wanted to create a sort of soundscape with the songs." Hot damn! That's enough to spark anyone's curiosity.
Replaying [more times than I'd care to admit] the album's excellent first track, "Face Down", on the Small Stone Records Jukebox caused my anticipation to turn rabid. If this song was any indication to the rest of Axehandle's debut self-titled release there was no doubt in my mind that this album would be nothing short of savage greatness.
But NAY! This CD is, sadly, not all it's made out to be. The root of the problem lies in the fact that, as a whole, it's not as amazing as it could be. It lacks focus. Sections, even whole tracks, just aren't up to par. Instances like these suck the life out of the precious moments when you can really hear what makes Axehandle stand out...
Indeed, there are moments when, lyrically, vocalist / guitarist Ryan Lake puts you right there with him; eyes blazing with lust and fury, the sweet taste of blood tickling your tongue, or on the floor screaming in helpless agony for someone to stop some psycho bitch from eating you for dinner. These are the moments that take us to the primal, animalistic areas of our psyche that we intentionally disregard.
These are also moments when drummers Brian Cox and Erik Larson feed off of each other without mimicking what the other just played, no matter how aggressively performed. When the thick guitars roll along, the drumming is the force behind their motion. Sometimes, when Lake spaces it out, Cox and Larson proceed to keep their presence known. Again, this is Axehandle; you know, the band with the two drummers.
Sadly, there are times when Cox and Larson play the same beat simultaneously with the occasional flam scattered here and there. No, no, no, flams and ghost notes don't cut it, gents. This is another slight beef I have with this CD. The drumming, again, as a whole, isn't all it could be. The rhythmic potential and lead was not fully achieved.
I wonder if the band might have put TOO much effort trying to create their desired "soundscape." In doing so, 1/2 of the material wouldn't sound out of place on an Alabama Thunderpussy album. And that's fine...for ATP. But, for now, I want to hear Axehandle.
In the end, is it worth checking out? Absolutely. You may have to pussyfoot around for a little bit, but sure and true, Axehandle WILL seize you with their "Imminent Dominance. Imminent Dominance. Imminent Dominance. Imminent Dominance."May, 2005
Michael Toland - High Bias Magazine
Never let it be said that the members of Alabama Thunderpussy ain't prolific. This power trio puts ATP driving force Erik Larson on drums alongside regular ATP drummer Bryan Cox and guitarist Ryan Lake (doubling on bass) for a sludgified aural nightmare. That's not to say there isn't melody and texture here, but with two drumkits in furious action, this can't do anything but pound, can it? And since the lyrics dwell almost exclusively on pain, torture and violence, this isn't the album to put on when you're looking for action from the pretty girl on your couch. As a soundtrack to beating the holy hell out of your garage punching bag, though, it's just about perfect.February 13th, 2005www.highbias.com
Ed Rivadavia - allmusic.com
Unlike some, less serious bands out there, Axehandle didn't choose their name because it sounded cool -- they chose it because they wanted to write songs about axe-wielding serial killers and douse themselves, Carrie-like, in buckets of pig's blood! Hey, it may be gruesome work but at least they make no bones about it (pun intended) and throw in the additional kicker (pun also intended, read on) of featuring not one, but two able percussionists providing a solid rhythmic bedrock both tribal and interesting. Not that this is immediately evident in the opening stoner metal jam "Face Down," which easily qualifies as the album's nearest attempt at subtlety -- an illusion will last less than one pass as the rest of the album unveils itself. Simply put, when they aren't instrumentals like the brief and sweetly mellow "Self Help" or the 12-minute fright-fest "Fine Food" (which comes overlaid with unintelligibly distorted basso voices talking something about cannibalism), these offerings are all imaginary first-person accounts straight from the mouths of murdering sociopaths. Case in point: the lazy, almost gentle roll of "All Redheads Are Crazy" describes a protagonist who arrives at a romantic dinner only to discover he's to be the main course; the lysergic Southern rock melodies of "The Damage That Can Be Done at the Ocean" likewise belie the imminent violence (both sonic and lyrical) brought on by an admission of betrayal to one's lover; and the bludgeoning metal chords and primal screams of "Pulp" occasionally suspend their swings only to extend the victim's torment. That's right: this is heavy, scary stuff with questionable moral values (tough!), but there's no denying that Axehandle's morbid fascination provides the thematic kick in the pants necessary to elevate them from mere Alabama Thunder Pussy side project to another level of validation.January, 2005www.allmusic.com
Kevin McHugh - Hellride Music
Axehandle is yet another of the side projects from the Alabama Thunderpussy mothership. The group is made up of Ryan Lake on guits n' bass, guitarist Erik Larson on drums, percussion and vocals, and drummer Brian Cox on...uh...drums. And percussion. These dudes got together to provide the world with some tomtom-beating tribal metal, but its not muesli-crunching, earth mama drum circle stuff, nossir. Not a bit of it. If that family of cannibals in 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' learned to play a few instruments and became literate enough to write some lyrics, it would sound something like this. Oh yeah, and a hallucinogen or two wouldn't hurt. At least at first, ha ha.
These songs deal with sadism, murder, assault, and yes, cannibalism. That last track with the slowed-down vocals? Its got something to do with chopping someone up with a meat cleaver and serving up some.. ahem..."fine food." Anyway, these lyrics are accompanied by the aforementioned percussive bombast, alot of guitar, a wee bit of bass, and vocals that range from simply passionate to razor blade-gargling intense. The music - heavy on the midrange, naturally - varies from bluesy, spacy guitar strumming to all-out metal assault. The well-played first track, 'Face Down,' has it all: a tribal drumming intro leading into a burst of vocals that sound like Dave Sherman of Earthride. 'All Redheads are Crazy' is a mid-paced murder ballad replete with stalking and sadism. By now you've got a pretty clear idea what you're in for. It just keeps going; the guitar provides a few quiet breaks but the murderous intensity goes on and on......
The fact is, it goes on too long. I think one could get a good EP out of this, say 'Face Down,' 'All Redheads are Crazy,' and maybe 'Self Help' thrown in for a change-up. Or you could make a great split with someone like Kylesa. In the meantime, pop a tab and take a look at the group photo of blood-slathered death hippies on the CD insert card. They're waiting for you..........December 21, 2004www.hellridemusic.com
SonicBoom - Monolith (Greece)
The ATP boys did it again! Axehandle is another side project of Alabama Thunder Pussy since the 3 members of the band (Erik Larson, Bryan Cox, Ryan Lake) are also basic membersof ATP.
Only this time the roles are a little bit changed. Larson grabs the mic (for a second time as the lead vocalist after his personal album, last year), leaves his guitar and sits behind the drums to join Bryan Cox as the second drummer and leaving that way Ryan do all the dirty job with the guitars and the bass. The opening track "Face Down" is definitely the highlight of the album with a stormy rhythm of tribal war drumming that makes me wanna bang from wall to wall every time IĂm hearing it. The followers "All Redheads Are Crazy" -
which is a typical southern rock track - and "The Damage That Can Be Done To The Ocean" are the weaker moments of the album and could have been taken from any of ATPĂs mediocre latest works. "Pulp" changes the situation again with LarsonĂs rough vocals and its southern sludge style that reminds me a lot of bands like Beaten Back To Pure or Eyehategod. And finally "Fine Food" raises again the unbreakable wall of sound that is produced by the double drumming and mix it with a spacey rock atmosphere. The only objection that I have is the distorted vocals (like a recitation) that donĂt fit very well in my ears. IĂm not sure if another Axehandle album will follow but this one is a statement of their creativity and sounds really good to me
Rate: 9/13December, 2004www.monolith.gr
John Pegoraro - StonerRock.com
Welcome to the busy world of Alabama Thunderpussy. The members of that famed and influential band have so many side projects, itĂs difficult keeping track of them all. You have to wonder if when they get together to jam, they have to ask each what moniker theyĂll be using.
So here comes the debut from Axehandle, comprised of 3/5 of Alabama Thunderpussy (Erik Larson, Bryan Cox, and Ryan Lake). Based on the lead track, ˘Face Down,÷ IĂd say that the band throws down intensely tribal metal. Larson, guitarist for ATP, joins Cox on drums and the two percussionists/drummers create a wall of rhythm that supports LakeĂs bass and guitar playing. Larson, who previously sang on his solo album (and once upon a time drummed for Avail), does so again for Axehandle. ItĂs a gruff, almost hardcore type of singing that fits the song well. And thanks to the outstanding production (courtesy of Beaten Back to PureĂs Vince Burke), each instrument has a discernable presence.
With the songs that immediately follow, Axehandle donĂt care to veer too far from the path cleaved by ATP (and by LarsonĂs solo work). Neither ˘All Redheads Are Crazy,÷ ˘The Damage That Can Be Done at the Ocean÷ nor ˘Self Help÷ would sound out of place on Fulton Hill or The Resounding. What they offer is a more psychedelic take on ATPĂs southern-tinged rock. TheyĂre good songs, but lack the unique qualities of the lead track, the doomy, pounding ˘Pulp,÷ and the instrumental closer, ˘Fine Food÷ (well, instrumental save for some vocally tweaked speech that I couldnĂt understand).
Larson has described Axehandle as ˘kind of like a bad trip you donĂt want to leave.÷ ItĂs a good assessment, and it sums up the record nicely. As far as side projects go, this is a keeper, the type you wouldnĂt mind hearing more of. As far as albums go, this is recommended.October, 2004www.stonerrock.com