As somebody forever intrigued by the prospect of black/power metal hybrids, Axxios’ debut album Beneath the Blood Red Sky is quite relevant to my interests. Comparisons to groups like Satan’s Host feel applicable as the drums keep up the intensity through spiraling song structures that see vocals alternating between raspy grunts and baritone cleans with the occasional falsettos bursting through. Even on the tracks that aren’t as harsh, the guitar tone retains an icy edge that keeps things consistent.
The band greatly benefits from a polished presentation. The production job is clean without sounding too processed and the mix is sufficiently balanced. The musicianship is also on point as the guitars alternate between fast chugs and hearty shreds while the vocals show few signs of strain when shifting between different approaches. Part of me feels like the drum sound is a little stiff and the vocals could be a little fuller, but the guitars have enough weight to keep the whole from feeling too thin. The bass also holds up a steady presence, reinforcing the heavier rhythms and also getting an extended spot to shine during the melodic sequences on “Consuming Chaos” and the title track.
A focus on nonlinear songwriting also ensures a degree of variety between individual tracks. While the brief introductions on “The Curse of Anathemia” and “The Lost Legions” make for some initial whiplash, each represents the band’s duality quite nicely as the former channels classic Skeletonwitch while the latter makes the most of the group’s power metal side. “The Trojan Heart” also uses those melodic elements quite nicely. It’s a little ironic that these three songs were all included on the frankly uneven EP that the group released in 2015, but the versions presented here are infinitely more cohesive.
While Axxios could benefit from tighter, more expansive songwriting in the future, Beneath the Blood Red Sky is a solid debut album. Their blackened power metal style is executed tastefully thanks to tight musicianship and a cold yet bright atmosphere. A couple extended introductions or even an extra track would’ve rounded things out a little smoother, but a half hour runtime ensures some replay value. At the very least, it sits nicely alongside the newest efforts from groups like Paladin and Bewitcher.
“The Curse of Anathemia”
“The Lost Legions”
“The Trojan Heart”