Axxis – Kingdom Of The Night II (White Edition)
Reviewed by Arno Callens
Back when I reviewed Axxis Kingdom Of The Night II – Black Edition I made a half-hearted promise to tackle the other half of the anniversary album, even though it was supposed to be full of “ballads and more quiet songs”. Shame on me for putting it off so long, because the White Edition is not only just as recommendable as the Black, but may in fact be the better of the two. Shocking!
To be honest Axxis (or maybe its label) screwed the pooch on the press release. Not only are the Black Edition and Axxis’ music in general about as “dark” as a flashlight factory, they made its twin brother sound like it was a compilation CD created specifically for funerals and Sunday brunches. It isn’t. In fact, it’s what Axxis, the Black Edition, and the rest of its discography are and always will be: a breezy bit of fun bordering on forgettable fluff if it wasn’t for a bucketload of charm.
Daniel Millard – himself a fluffy fellow – described it best: it’s “feel-good” music. Just listen to “Hall Of Fame” and imagine yourself not cheerfully humming that all day. No, there are not heavy guitars and no semblance of “darkness”, but it has the same melodic touch that has seen Axxis to its fame and 25th birthday. “Living In A Dream”, “Dance Into Life”, “We Are The World” and “Temple Of Rock” all boast such joyful lead melodies and easily addictive choruses that I was soon victim of the Joker’s horrific infliction: I couldn’t stop smiling. Even the counterpart of “Mary Married A Monster” on the Black Edition has faded from my memory as the White Edition’s version has been stuck in my head like a kid is “stuck” in a candy store.
Of course there are “ballads and more quiet songs”, but they are limited to a handful. “Crosses” is actually quite moving and the chorus is just as upbeat as any other, making mourning an act of happiness. For funerals! And Sunday brunches! A tad more forgettable is “Gone With The Wind”, contrary to a certain film of the same name. “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” is perhaps a strong statement, but I prefer Axxis when they’re the musical equivalent of tickling, not of jerking tears.
All in all, the White Edition holds up a little bit stronger than the Black one, but ideally the two would have been combined into some kind of super-album covering all of Axxis’ bases. Now we have a fractured celebratory diptych – each with its own virtues and flaws. Yang just a little bit less than yin.
3.75 // 5