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Axehandle | review | rock | Lollipop


(Small Stone)
by Brian Varney

All three members of Axehandle are also in Alabama Thunderpussy, so I suppose it wouldn't be incorrect to label this an ATP side project. However, doing so might lead to misdirected expectations, which a single listen to this CD would shatter. See, Axehandle doesn't really sound anything like ATP. First things first, Axehandle is a three-piece consisting of two drummers and a guitarist. I guess guitarist Ryan Lake laid some basslines down in the studio, but those fortunate enough to've caught this trio live know that there's no bass player.

When you consider the ratio of drums to guitars, it's no surprise that percussion dominates, especially since the two drummers (Bryan Cox and Erik Larson, who also sings) aren't always playing the same parts. Sometimes they fall into step and play the same lines, but just as often, they're positioned in opposite channels, tossing beats back and forth like two kittens with a dead mouse. Call 'em dueling lead drummers if you like, or try to imagine Duane Allman and Dickey Betts playing drums instead of guitars.

Most of the tunes are less exercises in songcraft than in primal pounding. There are gentler, more song-based moments such as "All Redheads Are Crazy," but this album is at its best when it's at its ugliest, as it is on tracks like "Face Down" or "Pulp," with Larson screaming, the drum kits pounding like a pair of fists to your kidneys, and the guitar sawing frantically at your carotid artery.


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