Axenstar’s (from Sweden) second CD “Far From Heaven” continues in the melodic speed metal vein alongside such newcomers as Finland’s Thunderstone and Italian veterans Labyrinth.
“Blind Leading The Blind” stands out as it sounds similar to Denmark’s Pretty Maids during the “Future World” era in terms of the sound and composition of the song structure. The guitar work of Peter Johansson is very intricate and flashy on this track. As far as metal radio single potential, “Don’t Hide Your Eyes” is easily the most memorable track on the disc. Vocalist/Keyboardist Magnus Winterwild does an excellent job on the keyboard heavy “Abandoned” with its many intricate weavings. Winterwild’s voice also calls to mind Ronnie Atkins of Pretty Maids, thus the comparison becomes even stronger with multiple listens especially on “Children Forlorn”. “Blackout” is the fastest and most relentless track on the disc. “Northern Sky” is a very lovely ballad that shows a different side of Axenstar and features some impressive vocal harmonization.
While they are numerous bands across Europe playing this style of melodic speed metal, Axenstar had delivered a pretty strong release that should stand tall among similar releases.