Cruel Force - Official Website

Dawn Of The Axe

Germany Country of Origin: Germany

1. Azrael's Dawn
2. At The Dawn Of The Axe
3. Night Of Thunder
4. Death Rides The Sky
5. Devil's Dungeon
6. Watchtower Of Abra
7. Across The Styx
8. Power Surge
9. Realm Of Sands

Review by Felix on July 21, 2023.

Let’s talk about this quartet called Cruel Force. Honestly speaking, their debut was good, but some songs of Under The Sign Of The Moon were and still are simply incredible. Thus, I wasn’t very happy to see the band vanishing into thin air, but now, after more than a decade, they have returned. That’s great, but also dangerous, because they have modified their style. The black elements of their former black thrash sound have almost been totally erased. Cruel Force have made a move to a new bastard, a speed / thrash hybrid. But do not expect high-pitched vocals, the quite deep voice of Carnivore still sounds earthy. He does not lack charisma and expressive power and so he alone guarantees a strong metallic vibe.

But, of course, his comrades also do not behave like posers. Yes, I have allowed myself to use this word in view of the very archaic approach of the band. Just take a look at the artwork. It could also be the cover of an Atlain, Living Death or Iron Angel album of the eighties. But that’s not all: the promo claims that it has identified elements of Rainbow and Scorpions. I didn’t. Guess I must have been “in trance”. Anyway, all those who think that Cruel Force have softened their compositions do not have to fear nightmares. Admittedly, occasionally a part appears that would have had no chance to get a place on the first two albums. A few multi-voiced back vocals or the nearly dreamy instrumental part of 'Devil’s Dungeon' must be mentioned in this context. Well, not the best sequence on the album, but it does not characterize the entire work. And, by the way, a little drama and some melancholy are no bad things per se.

The two advance songs, 'Across The Styx' and the title track, do not know overly emotional parts and they represent the album in an excellent manner. High velocity, galloping guitars, commanding vocals, insane fill-ins and larger than life choruses form two flawless jewels. They justify their prominent positions (openers of the A and the B side of the vinyl) with great ease – if we forget the two short intros for a moment. They are cool, metallic (side A) or atmospheric (side B) and open the gates in a good manner, no more, no less. Behind these gates, strict torpedoes like 'Night Of Thunder' await the listener. Every now and then, they spread some Deströyer 666 vibes, but more decisive for their great impact are the brilliant riffs and the non-polished yet catchy chorus lines. The song titles underline the archaic element of the music. Something like 'Death Rides The Sky', another audacious rocket which is based on clear contours and many high-speed parts, is old-fashioned, generic and… absolutely fantastic.

Naturally a good production is very useful, and Cruel Force impresses with a mix which finds the perfect balance between underground metal waves and professional transparency. Especially the guitar tone shines almost with perfection. It comes to full glory in some solos, for example in the one of 'Power Surge'. The song underlines the passion of Cruel Force for straight-lined, diabolic smashers for the last time – the following closer invites the audience to a rather epic finale, although it holds a sharp riff and another fine portion of high velocity as well. And that’s it. 38 minutes of playtime does not indicate opulence and it is somewhat sad that we do not get a little bit more. However, Dawn Of The Axe marks a very strong return, because it seems to be filled to the brim with the true spirit of metal. Therefore (and for a handful of outstanding tracks) I like this full-length very much.

Rating: 8.6 out of 10