It took Swedish power metallers Axenstar 5 years and a refreshed line up to come up with album number five, Aftermath, the follow up to their 2006 release The Final Requiem. Axenstar is no stranger to line up turmoil. For this new platter the complete rhythm section (Magnus Ek and Pontus Jansson) was replaced. Enter Adam Lindberg on drums, while singer/keyboard player Magnus Winterwild took over the bass duties. Jens Klovegard was added as guitarist. In putting out The Final Requiem, the band also underwent surgery by replacing both guitarists Peter Johansson and Thomas Eriksson.
So far personnel changes have never stopped the band from releasing good albums. In fact, with every album the quality improved. That brings expectations to the table, and questions. Is this new team up to the task as well? Although the record does not bring forth any new ideas, it's yet another interpretation of the long time proven Axenstar formula: it carries unmistakeably that unique, somewhat bold and melodic atmosphere which defines all Axenstar albums.
The song writing is solid, the new rhythm section clearly knows how to hit the gas and set up a platform for intelligent guitar and keyboard prowess. The arrangements are thick but clear; the riffing is strong and powerful and the familiar progressive twists and turns are present on most tracks.
It took me a little longer than average to discover all the details on this one, but when I finally felt comfortable with the album it struck me how well crafted it is. With Aftermath the band really has made the final step towards maturity.
Axenstar delivers its strongest trade on tracks such as the fast and furious The Escape, the more progressive Agony and Dead Kingdom, and the great finish Forever The Pain. However, let us not spend too much time on separate tracks here. Aftermath is simply a very good melodic power metal album that seamlessly follows the pattern of the bands previous efforts. To answer the aforementioned question, yes the new team is up to the task. Not by a mile, but it's their best yet.