Whilst listening to the new album from Indianapolis blackened thrashers Maax the image of a musical pentagram with them in the middle as a focal point drawing on five distinct flavours plays in the head. With Unholy Rock N Roll the band even more so than before suck the flavours from rock ‘n’ roll, black metal, thrash, punk and classic rock to forge their own relatively unique sound. As the tracks unveil the band acts as a link between classic rock and the likes of AC/DC, punk sounds like Wednesday 13, the trash energy of a Kvelertak, the rock power of a Motorhead or even Status Quo, and the blackness of Venom. The resulting sound is one that works in varying degrees but with constant frequency leaves a smile on the face and adds fun to the day’s energy.
Unholy Rock N Roll released via Abyss Records is the follow up to the band’s Six Pack Witchcraft EP and comes with a definite thrashier flavour especially when compared to their debut album of 2009; Dawnbringer which was a colder black metal toned release. It shows a strong and definite evolution in sound and direction from the bands formation in 2006 and one that is very welcome, the band firing with more energy and accuracy with this spread of influences and ideas. The album was written and recorded with new addition Jeremy Starkey (Necrophagous) on bass joining founder members guitarist Kyle Kreider and drummer Jeff Brown (since replaced by Dave Dalton (Legion, Ratzkrieg, SoSayeth)) plus vocalist Tim Green and guitarist Brett Schlagel. The album shows arguably an even steadier and more purposeful feel from this line-up than before, a power that is impossible not to be dragged along by even if the flavours at times do not always quite hit the mark.
Maaxe (pronounced May-Axe) know how to have a good time and that comes out on the album from the opener ‘Coldest Steel’ complete with relentless riffs and eagerness right through to the closing attitude soaked ‘One More Time’, the album thrusting forth its dirty whiskey fuelled black thrash n’ roll with efficiency and glee. The band never reach levels that threaten the sanity of senses with their attack but do give them a thorough working over with their rock ‘n’ roll swagger and dirty intent.
The consistency across the release is strong but a few songs lift the album from a good listen into one that instigates a more regular attention. The title track has an infectious anthemic appeal that means it is hard not to punch they air as its gang shouted chorus calls out whilst ‘Maax’ with all the subtlety and insistency of a red hot poker laced with punk venom stands firmly in front of the face and unleashing some alcohol loaded intensity. Alongside the best track on show ‘Black Thrash ‘Em All’, the trio make Unholy Rock N Roll worth more than a glance. This track leaps into the ear with striking guitars and black edginess that border on lechery, with dirty growls and infectious rhythms.
To be honest there is not one song that lingers after running its course though this is not to say they are less than satisfying but though they admirably do not go for obvious hooks and tricks the songs are missing that spark and addictiveness to make one return often. Unholy Rock N Roll is a good solid release but there is the question of it being too varied and up against other more genre dedicated and sterner intense albums elsewhere it will get lost in the metal ethers, hopefully not as it does entertain and bring good sounds and attitude.