Axxis: Kingdom Of The Night-80’s-1989.

Axxis is a German heavy metal band that was founded in 1988.[1] Their debut album, Kingdom of the Night, became the best-selling debut album by a hard rock band in Germany in 1989.

Axxis’ musical roots lie within the traditional hard rock of the 1970s and 1980s, including influences of 1990s electronic music. The band was formed in early 1980s, with the name Anvil. They released several self-recorded demos under that name, before discovering the Canadian band Anvil who had already released an album internationally,

In response to this, the band changed their name in the year 1980 to “Axis”. In interview with Battle Helm [2] in 2015, vocalist Bernhard Weiß stated that the new band name must be a small word to get bigger letters on the promotional posters, but he also stated that they chose the name because “the name AXIS sounds a bit like guitar axes, but also meaning wise”.

They recorded a demo entitled “Tears of the Trees” (later to appear on the Kingdom of the Night album) in 1988. Which they submitted to EMI records several times, and were eventually signed to EMI Electrola. Due to an EMI subsidiary in Germany also named Axis, the band introduced a second X in their name, becoming “Axxis”. At this time, the band consisted of vocalist Bernhard Weiß, guitarist Walter Pietsch, bassist Werner Kleinhans and drummer Richard Michaelski.[1]

Axxis then released their debut album, Kingdom of the Night in 1989.[1] This album was released in Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia and the USA, and sold 100,000 copies.[3] It became 1989’s best selling debut album by a hard rock band in Germany.[citation needed] Axxis toured to promote the album, opening for such bands as Black Sabbath.[1][4]

In 1990, Axxis released Axxis II, which achieved similar success. Keyboard player Harry Oellers was added for the album. The album also contained the single “Touch the Rainbow” and the fan-favourite “Little Look Back” (later to become an anthem in their live shows), and was followed by Access All Areas in 1991, the first live album by the band.

The band then released The Big Thrill in 1993. Produced by Joey Balin and recorded in Philadelphia, it was the first international production by Axxis. The album became a best seller in 1993. It was promoted by the band in various shows, including in Japan, where acoustic performances by Weiß and Pietsch would later be included in Profile – The Best of Axxis, a 1994 Japan-only release.

Axxis continued to record in America for their next album Matters of Survival, and had Keith Olsen to produce it. Axxis originally wanted Olsen to produce their previous album The Big Thrill, but Olsen declined due to time restraints.[5] Weiß later implied that Olsen tried to change the band’s sound from heavy metal to alternative, which was trending at that time. Matters of Survival was released in 1995, and fans rejected it due to the change in sound. Weiß admitted later this album was “not metal enough”.[6]

Axxis continued to play with a modern rock style in their 1996 album, Voodoo Vibes, the last album they recorded under EMI. Axxis then parted ways with long-time guitarist Walter Pietsch. According to Weiß, Pietsch choose to be a producer, and has since become a well-known producer in Germany.[5]

Axxis then signed with Massacre Records in 2000 to record the album Back to the Kingdom, with a name implying the return to their classic heavy metal sound. The new album was received well among fans, and the followed up in 2000 and 2001 with the compilation albums Collection of Power and Eyes of Darkness.

Bernhard Weiß’ unique vocal style is significantly characteristic trademark of the band, and he (along with Oellers) has been Axxis’ most constant member, featuring in the band from 1988 to present. Over time Axxis have adopted an increasing amount of both classic and modern power metal into their sound, this is significantly heard on the albums Time Machine (2004), Paradise in Flames (2006), Doom of Destiny (2007) and Utopia (2009).

The band celebrated their 20th anniversary in 2011, releasing 20 Years of Axxis on their publishing company, Phonotraxx. The anniversary production was an official bootleg live recording released on both CD and DVD, the following year they released the cover album reDISCOver(ed), featuring covers of “Ma Baker“, “Stayin’ Alive, “My Heart Will Go On” and many more.

In 2014, the band returned to their roots similarly to Back to the Kingdom with the release of Kingdom of the Night II a double-CD release sequel to their debut album. The double-CDs were released as the hard rock oriented “white” and the heavy metal and power metal oriented “black” versions, respectively, with completely different songs on them, and were both sold separately as well as packaged together in a “Deluxe” edition.

Axxis celebrated their 25th anniversary similar to their 20th, with the live release of 25 Years of Rock & Power in 2015. Early 2017 saw the release of Retrolution, a heavy metal and hard rock oriented album, taking various throwback elements to the bands which Axxis had listened to over the years. The title implies this, word-playing “retro” with “revolution”. In October 2018, they released their new studio album Monster Hero.

In 2019, they celebrated their 30th anniversary with a tour, their first ever live Blu-Ray Bang Your Head with Axxis, as well as a double album Best of EMI-Years with re-recordings of songs from the years 1989-1997.

Discography:

Demo 1984Demo1984 
Tears of the TreesDemo1988 
Kingdom of the Night (Promo)EP1988 
Fire and IceSingle1989 
Kingdom of the NightSingle1989 
Living in a WorldSingle1989 
Tears of the TreesSingle1989 
Kingdom of the NightFull-length1989
Hold YouSingle1990 
Ships Are SailingSingle1990 
Touch the RainbowSingle1990 
IIFull-length1990
II (Promo)Single1991 
Little Look BackSingle1991 
Free Hot Rock EPSplit1991 
Access All AreasLive album1991 
Big Thrill (Promo)Single1993 
Love Doesn’t Know Any DistanceSingle1993 
Stay Don’t Leave MeSingle1993 
License to ThrillSplit1993 
The Big ThrillFull-length1993
Profile – The Best of AxxisCompilation1994 
IdolatorSingle1995 
Another DayEP1995 
Matters of SurvivalFull-length1995
SarajevoSingle1996 
Voodoo Vibes (Promo)Single1996 
Voodoo VibesFull-length1997
Back to the KingdomFull-length2000
Collection of PowerCompilation2001 
Eyes of DarknessFull-length2001
Pure & RoughCompilation2002 
PromoEP2003 
Time MachineFull-length2004
Platinum EditionBoxed set2004 
Paradise in FlamesFull-length2006
Best of Ballads & Acoustic SpecialsCompilation2006
Doom of DestinyFull-length2007
UtopiaFull-length2009
20 Years of AxxisLive album2011 
20 Years of AxxisVideo2011 
reDISCOver(ed)Full-length2012 
Kingdom of the Night IIFull-length2014
25 Years of Rock and PowerVideo2015 
RetrolutionFull-length2017 
Monster HeroFull-length2018 
Bang Your Head with AxxisVideo2019 
Best of EMI-YearsFull-length2019 
Virus of a Modern TimeEP2020 
Bernhard Weiß
Vocals (1988-present), Guitars (1989-present)
See also: ex-Anvil
Harry Öllers
Keyboards (1990-present)
Rob Schomaker
Bass (2004-present)
See also: Regicide, ex-Cyberya, ex-Trinity
Dirk Brand
Drums (2012-present)
See also: Lee ZSubsignal, ex-Geoff Downes & John Wetton
Matthias Degener
Guitars (2019-present)
See also: Fight/DelightHate Force One, ex-Misery Speaks (live), EpitomE, Kixx

Past Members:

Thomas KampmannDrums
See also: ex-Anvil
Klaus JankordGuitars
See also: ex-Black Diamond, ex-Anvil
Werner KleinhausBass (1988-1993)
See also: ex-Anvil
Richard MichalskiDrums (1988-2003)
Walter PietschGuitars (1988-1998)
Markus GfellerBass (1993-1998)
Kuno NiemeyerBass (1998-2004)
Guido WehmeyerGuitars (1999-2006)
See also: Lakonia, ex-Wyvern
André HilgersDrums (2004-2008)
See also: BonfireSilent ForceSonic Haven, ex-Nuclear Blast Allstars, ex-The Sygnet, ex-Empire, ex-Herman Frank, ex-Lingua Mortis Orchestra, ex-Rage, ex-Razorback, ex-Sinner, ex-Vanize, ex-Regicide (live), ex-Mendacious Messiah, ex-Ninja, ex-Noisehunter (live), ex-Bourbon $treet
Marco WriedtGuitars (2007-2015)
See also: Pink Cream 69, 21 Octayne, The Arc of Light
Alex LandenburgDrums (2008-2011)
See also: Angels CryCyHraKamelotLight & ShadeMekong DeltaStarchildUniversal Mind ProjectTimo Tolkki (live), ex-Broken Grace, ex-Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody, ex-Symfonia (live), ex-Broken Glass, ex-Annihilator, ex-At Vance, ex-Bonfire (live), ex-Masterplan (live), ex-Sandalinas (live), ex-Stratovarius (live), ex-21 Octayne, ex-Blind Faith, ex-Jamie’s Gone, ex-Meera Fé, ex-Memento, ex-Philosophobia
Stefan “Stürmer” WeberGuitars (lead) (2015-2019)
See also: RageRebatteredRegicideScanner
Songs
Side A
1.Living in a World03:53  Show lyrics
2.Kingdom of the Night03:51  Show lyrics
3.Never Say Never03:41  Show lyrics
4.Fire and Ice04:00  Show lyrics
5.Young Souls03:16  Show lyrics
Side B
6.For a Song04:04  Show lyrics
7.Love Is like an Ocean03:24  Show lyrics
8.The Moon03:40  Show lyrics
9.Tears of the Trees04:10  Show lyrics
10.Just One Night03:13  Show lyrics
11.Kings Made of Steel03:32  Show lyrics
 40:44 

One response to “Axxis: Kingdom Of The Night-80’s-1989.”

  1. GOOFAM, September 18th, 2017

    Many of the reviews of this band here on the Metal Archives have knocked them for having a lot of hard rock elements to their sound. And it’s true—if you are the sort of person who thinks Night Ranger, Whitesnake, and Scorpions have combined to write a total of zero good songs, because they just aren’t heavy enough, you can skip over Axxis’ discography, or at least certainly their early years.

    For those of you still with me, the operative question is not whether this band is heavy enough, but whether they execute their borderline hard rock/metal style well. And the answer, even from the outset of their career here in 1989, is generally yes.

    Kingdom of the Night is certainly a product of its time. It’s not an out-and-out late-‘80s glam metal album, mostly because the band retains a slight European sensibility and the lyrical material, while still somewhat silly, avoids glam clichés more often than it indulges them. Still, this is presented as a pretty commercial slab of hard rock, with the expected reverbed vocals and giant, thudding snare drum—all of the typical staples of the time.

    The two primary strengths of Kingdom of the Night are the general enthusiasm of the band and a good grasp of melody. Paces are generally uptempo here, and even the two ballads get some heaviness injected and avoid tiresome “More Than Words” territory. The band doesn’t try anything remotely progressive, generally staying within their means and trading variation for increased quality control.

    As this music is pretty hook-driven, the nice thing about this album is that the hooks don’t fall flat, and every song here is generally fun and at least moderately enjoyable. The quality perhaps takes a slight dip on the back half of the disc, but even then, the songs stay enthusiastic even when they aren’t particularly memorable.

    This album does have a few flaws that keep it a bit short of essential for the genre. First, the production isn’t perfect, even for those (like me) who generally enjoy late-‘80s production conventions. Bernhard Weiß’ vocals are often a bit low in the mix, the snare is often too loud, and the guitar tones are a bit subpar—basically, the standard sort of flaws you expect in a second-rate production job from this time period. Make no mistake, it’s not a lo-fi album by any means, but it’s just a bit short of a full realization of this sort of sound. Weiß tends to bite off a bit more than he can chew vocally, singing choruses at the very top of his chest range, which sometimes makes them sound strained and robs them of power. Walter Pitsch’s solos are fine and tuneful interludes, but aren’t particularly compelling on their own, and don’t add any real sort of virtuostic element. The drums are suitably, even overly, boomy, but as you’d expect in the genre, they do little beyond keeping a powerful beat and throwing in a reasonable fill here and there; bass is quite audible but rarely of much consequence beyond rounding out the sound.

    As this is a consistent album rather than one of peaks and valleys, there aren’t a ton of overt highlights. The best song here for my taste is ballad “Tears of the Trees,” which features a great chorus and a nice building arrangement. Beyond that, the first five songs generally deliver a bit more consistently than the rest, though the last two minutes of “The Moon” really get cooking.

    Kingdom of the Night is the rare album of this sort that actually functions best as a whole–because the energy and tunefulness are consistently there, it’s easy to let this album coast by for its 40-minute runtime and enjoy it. It’s not deep or exceptionally lasting, but it’s a generally well-executed album. In a long career that continues to this day, this band had many additional chances to go further, polish, and experiment more, but they played to their strengths here and wound up with a highly listenable debut. Energetic party/background music isn’t exactly the highest of artistic aspirations, but countless artists tried this sound out at the time, and a fair number fell short of these guys.

    Liked by 1 person

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