Earlier this week, a WordPress friend of mine, Mike Ladano, asked if I could review an EP by a Canadian rock band known as Max the Axe. So I thought, “why not!” I’ve heard a couple of their songs from Ladano’s livestreams, but I’ve never sat down and listened to any of the band’s tracks.
The EP titled Oktoberfest Cheer (2021) was released on August 20 and progress started last year during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Max the Axe was formed in 1995, but the current line-up on the EP has been around since 2018. The members are Mike Koutis on lead guitar, Eric Litwiller on lead vocals, Mike Mitchell on bass, and Dave Haslam on drums. With all that said, let’s get on with the music!
The EP starts with “Pygmy Blow Dart;” what does that even mean? Who cares! It’s loud and it’s awesome. I really dig Litwiller’s vocals and the rhythm section sounds great. Props to Mitchell for his fabulous bass solo before Koutis kills it on the electric guitar! I didn’t have the lyrics, but I swear that Litwiller was singing,”I’m heading downtown and I’m looking for some dope,” or something like that.
Next up is a cover of Black Flag’s “Thirsty and Miserable.” I can’t relate to the lyrics, but I’ve read about alcohol addiction and how it can affect people; it ain’t pretty! Mitchell is on fire; he started the song with an epic bass riff. When I read Ladano’s review of this EP, he said that it was very punk rock, which scared me a bit. I’m not really a punk fan because I don’t like punk rock singers; they sound so emotionless. Thankfully, Litwiller’s vocals were the opposite of that. His confidence and energy really showed on this track and the band was really into it as well; if the band is into the song, then the listeners will like it too.
The EP ends with the title track, “Oktoberfest Cheer!” I’m sorry to say this, but it’s actually my least favorite track on the EP. There was too much going on in the song (I could’ve sworn I heard an accordion) and it sounded like total chaos. There are positives to this track though: I admire Haslam for effortlessly keeping time and that the band wrote a song about a real-world event. According to Google, Oktoberfest is an annual 16 to 18 day folk festival that runs from mid-to-late September to the first Sunday of October and takes place in Germany. There’s polka music, dancing, and plenty of beer.
As Ladano said in his review, this EP is under 10 minutes; the longest track is 3:45. Despite my ill feelings towards the title track, I loved the overall high energy vibe of this EP. It’s a shame there are only three songs total, but that leaves me wanting more and eager to hear the band’s next release. I liked two of the three tracks, which is about 67 percent. With that in mind, I’d give Max the Axe’s Oktoberfest Cheer a rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars. Regardless of my score, I think Max the Axe is a great band and they are a bunch of talented musicians!
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