An Axe to Grind
posted on 7/2012 By:
You know how some bands have that special intangible aspect to their sound that somehow catapults them to the next level? Helps the whole manage to transcend the sum of its parts? That’s called an X-Factor, right? Well, what do you call it when a band has the exact opposite quality, when the whole comes across as less than its parts? Because try as I might, I just can’t seem to fully settle into Power Theory, despite plenty of reasons for me to dig them.
An Axe to Grind is the second effort from Pennsylvania’s Power Theory, and by and large, it serves up a damn solid style of vintage US power and traditional metal that aims to please fans of Metal Church and the like. It’s modern sounding classic metal to the bone, and at its best, the album delivers. Problem is, Power Theory tends to hover right below their best. There’s just something persistently nagging about this album; the band seems to be just off the mark. Sometimes it’s a matter of an ill-advised vocal melody or goofy lyrics. (“A Fist in the Face of God?” Really?) Other times, it’s the perplexing lack of uptempo, aggressive soloing, or a stretch of a song that just feels a bit awkward, whether it’s a good performance undone by dicey writing, or strong writing not convincingly performed. And sometimes you just can’t seem to put your finger on what bugs you. It’s that non-X-Factor. It’s frustrating, because the band almost gets it right most of the time, but just can’t seal the deal.
Still, each member shines at different points. The rhythm section in particular is consistently strong. The best moments are found in “The Seer (In Dreams),” Deceiver,” and the title track, but truthfully most every track has some strong material, and the album boasts a thick, professional production. It should all come together convincingly, but unfortunately Power Theory hasn’t yet worked out how to hold pace for a full album. I can’t give more than a lukewarm recommendation to this one, but Power Theory is a band to watch. If they can put the final pieces into place, they could be downright dangerous.
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