US Heavy/Power Metal group Power Theory re-released their debut album only last year, in such a short space of time, they are back with ‘An Axe to Grind’. The music is very traditional metal, as the genre definition would suggest, and the album artwork suggests metal too. The artwork itself was penned by Eliran Kantor (who also painted the latestSodom and Testament album covers), the warrior is a traditional image of metal music, and thankfully this music of Power Theory lives up to all expectations and their chosen imagery.

Lead vocalist Dave Santini still reminds me in places of Blackie Lawless, and like the PR material states, the band as a whole sound like present day Saxon. When I reviewed their debut release, I stated the same fact and I also stated that I thought this band could give more as I felt the debut was a little restricted. Well, I am sure they took note of me (ha ha) because tracks like ‘Deceiver’ are a marked improvement, mid tempo and aggressive. ‘An Axe to Grind’ proves that the band is no longer limiting their musical vision, but they are branching out into a more varied range, especially in the tempo variation on display on this release. Power Theory’s epic tracks including the seven minute plus ‘The Hammer Strikes’. This has many NWOBHM influences, more notable in the verse coupled with a classic guitar run melody. With a song of such duration, Power Theory change the arrangement tempo, even including some group “Odin” inspired vocals, akin to a certain US band that hate wimps and posers. Palm muted guitar gallops really help my love for this music further, the tone, the melody, all of which is improved and all thoroughly heavy metal in its purest form, just like the opening riff to ‘Edge of Knives’.

If you take some of the historical metal music over the past 30 years, combine it with a fresh modern production, throw in some classic artwork and lyrical content, so you have Power Theory. ‘An Axe to Grind’ has a certain level of truth when it comes to musical ability and its delivery and on the other side of the coin, it can also be a big middle finger to those non-believers of real, musically interesting heavy metal music in it most vibrant format.

(7.5/10, Paul Maddison)