Columbia’s Axe Steeler plays their own brand of Teutonic heavy metal (by their own description), akin to the European scene mixing elements of the UK’s own Toledo Steel and the US band Savage Master. Essentially, this release does exactly what is expected with such an introduction. The opening track ‘Back to the Stage’ is very cool, crowd noise is added for effect, but this sets the tone for the whole album. ‘Hellrider’ has some wicked guitar breaks and a feel of Grim Reaper’s early material, simply powerful driving metal music to break the speed limit with. The album’s title track ‘On the Run’ continues the traditional metal/NWOBHM trademark sound.
British metal is a key influence; the start of ‘Axe of Steel’ has this feel, maybe even something for the “Manowarriors” to shout about with the mid paced epic chug-a-thon. Overall there are a few bum notes and the production is quite thin, but the passion and delivery more than makes up for it. Again, referring to the solos and lead breaks, there is some considerable talent on display from both Nehider and Camilo on axe wielding duties. No traditional metal album of old would be complete without something of a ballad included. ‘Beyond the Stars’ begins as suggested, it’s rather majestic once the second section and second guitar gets a touch more distortion. The subsequent guitar harmonies are very special. Then just after a couple of minutes you think it’s over, we go into 70’s era Scorpions, and my only gripe is the piano/keyboard. But hey, as an instrumental, it takes you to places you want to go.
The release doesn’t throw any surprises, I don’t think it is meant to, it’s a take it or leave it release from which I think, for all its rawness, really works. This album is a really nice find and with the label being a sub-division of Pure Steel Records, it’s more than likely to expect to see them in the near future around Europe.
(8/10 Paul Maddison)