Some records you love right from the get-go: others need more time. aXiom (no, I don’t know why it’s spelt like that) is one of the latter, and that is because of its progressive nature.
The word “progressive” is thrown about a lot when describing music and, I think, metal specifically. I don’t know if there is a universally applicable definition of the word, but for me it has come to describe music that is the opposite of old-school or “classic” (e.g. “old-school death metal” and “classic heavy metal”). It’s intricate without necessarily being technical. It’s something that holds more than first meets the eye (or ear) and on an album you often have to work a little to discover or understand its essence.
I spent some time with the album for reviewing purposes at first. I gave it a pretty good score, if I remember correctly, but it wasn’t until further listening that I really came to connect with it. At that time the review had already been published, but the work of reviewing is always subjective and things can change in a person to make them develop new tastes and preferences.
Where at first I thought the album pretty incoherent (even though it’s actually a concept album, about mental suffering) it finally transformed into this remarkable melodic journey of harmony, heaviness and playfulness that the album represents for me now. Although I do get a warm and pleasant feeling when listening to it, it’s really not a positive sounding album.
The concept of mental health is something the band worked very hard to describe. They even interviewed patients at mental institutions to be able to understand how a sick psyche thinks. That shows dedication to the art, and speaks for the authenticity and deep nature of aXiom.
To describe the music in more than abstract terms is a bit difficult. Imagine the more soulful and softer bits of System Of A Down and you will know a little of what Boil sounds like. The reason that I use this strange reference first is because Boil‘s singer sounds a lot like Serj Tankian (when the latter is not on screaming craze) and the intro track on the album sounds like something that SOAD could have done, if they didn’t have the need to be so flipped out. For more influences on Boil‘s sound, we stay in America, and most of their heavy rock contemporaries. I won’t namedrop, because I think that already the mention of SOAD would scare people away from listening to aXiom. Not that SOAD are bad, but what Boil do sound like on this album is just part that, part radio-friendly American rock music, both blended so well together and then turned metal in a way that makes it recognizable, approachable (hopefully for most), heavy but still melodic, haunting and beautiful, gripping but never grasping.
Hopefully I haven’t negged this wonderful album. Please listen to it. Please like it, and let me know if you don’t. Unfortunately the band called it quits toward the end of 2013, so we won’t be getting new music from these guys in a while. But at least they went out on a high note.
- TBOJ score: 5/5
- DR score: 11