KICK AXE – Vices [Rock Candy remastered +1] (2016)
“Vices” was the first album from Canadian rockers KICK AXE — and a little gem it is too, highly deserving a Rock Candy Records remastered treatment. This reissue includes as bonus track the hard to find ’30 Days In The Hole’ featured in the movie Up The Creek.
Canadian Rock has always been highly regarded among discerning metal / hard rock fans. In general, the quality of the craftsmanship, songwriting and playing is, in many respects, superior to any other country in the world, lending the acts an air of confidence and accomplishment that has always impressed.
Kick Axe were, it must be said, one of the best Canadian hard rock acts that emerged during the the first half of the ’80s, rubbing shoulders with other hot contenders such as Helix, Coney Hatch and Anvil to name a few.
Signing to CBS Records in Canada the band was then, surprisingly, taken under the wing of Pasha Records in the USA, home of multi-platinum sellers Quiet Riot.
Produced by Spencer Proffer (Quiet Riot, King Kobra, W.A.S.P.) and originally issued in 1984, the album contains a sterling selection of tracks that place the band center stage in the burgeoning mid-80s hard rock renaissance, and give vocalist George Criston room to impress at every turn.
As a prime example of 24 Karat Canadian Hard Rock, “Vices” takes no prisoners and lays down the law with focussed intent.
“Vices” is plenty of big choruses, riffs galore and some nice shredding during the obligatory guitar solos.
Opener “Heavy Metal Shuffle” is an underground classic and bring back great memories. It’s indeed a ‘shuffle rocker’ with all the magic of the era with its guitar solo being exactly the type of ‘swinging a cat’ sound I love.
Title track “Vices” is a beat-your-chest anthem, “Stay On Top” is another solid number driven by the chorus before the ballad “Dreamin’ About You” enters — a lovely change of pace and a fantastic example of the ’80s power ballad.
“Maneater” is up next and is a number that just plows straight ahead with its pounding drums — a great slice of balls to the walls hard rock.
There’s lots of energy on “Cause For Alarm” with great gang vocals delivered with melody that add to the effectiveness, while “Just Passin’ Through” is a solid head nodder that flows along very nicely.
One of the highlights is “On The Road To Rock”, the lead-off single and video, another kick-ass track again following the theme of riff-driven, big chorus tunes. A punchy piece with some driving drums and a showcasing of the vocals of Criston. This one benefits from the production techniques and a well-crafted numerous voice chorus.
Despite its instant appeal, this song is a quite complex piece (as several tracks on the album) with a lot going on compared to many other band’s material in this genre which are usually more simplistic.
Some great guitar licks are placed strategically throughout which add to the flare.
Then you have the bonus “30 Days In The Hole”, perhaps the more commercial track from this early Kick Axe era, and one of their more melodic hard rock oriented.
Originally only appeared on the Up The Creek LP movie soundtrack and the cassette version of the album. A collector’s piece.
“Vices” is a truly elaborated and ambitious ’80s Hard Rock affair in which no song is untouched by an array of editing techniques and mega-production. There’s a lot going on in every song which can be quite refreshing. A lot of dimensionality in the sound – tonnes of dynamism.
Kick Axe – and producer Spencer Proffer – skillfully blended here melodic hard rock melodies with straight up US metal riffs, attitude, and loads of money spent in the studio.
Great remaster by Rock Candy on an album that needed more clarity and ‘air’ according to modern music players.
You’ve seen it first here, at 0dayrox
01 – Heavy Metal Shuffle
02 – Vices
03 – Stay On Top
04 – Dreamin’ About U
05 – Maneater
06 – On The Road To Rock
07 – Cause 4 Alarm
08 – Alive And Kickin’
09 – All The Right Moves
10 – Just Passin’ Through
11 – 30 Days In The Hole
George Criston – lead vocals
Raymond Arthur Harvey – guitar and vocals
Larry Gillstrom – guitar and vocals
Victor Langen – bass and vocals
Vice Brian Gillstrom – drums and vocals
BUY IT !