I absolutely love the first four albums by LILLIAN AXE, each of which diamonds of the Melodic/Hard Rock genre in their own right, if mostly unknown and/or under-appreciated. ”XI-The Days Before Tomorrow” is my first contact with the band since their reunion without singer extraordinaire Ron Taylor, so I was both interested and hesitant, since I had read about the style having had changed a bit since their early days. LILLIAN AXE anno 2011 have a stronger Alternative Rock list and overall sound more melancholic than what I remember, and of course singer Brian C. Jones is obviously no Ron Taylor…
“Babylon” kicks things off with some blazing guitars to continue on into a mid-paced track with some nice crunch in the guitars, which nicely sets the tone for the album that sees its shining moment in the no. 2 slot in the shape of “Death Comes Tomorrow”, which kind of brings me back to the days of “Psychoschizophrenia”. The way the melodies are set into a slow-paced, somewhat reflective song that builds up towards a very memorable chorus that bears this special LILLIAN AXE touch and shows Jones with a very inspired vocal performance as well.
The main issue I have with this album is that too often the choruses fall into a similar pattern of slower tempo and big emphasis on the harmony, but that should not paint a picture of sameyness, since the rest sees some nice variety. One of LILLIAN AXE’s strengths always had been their ability to write catchy melodies without getting sappy, but having this slight twist to them that set them apart, on this album often melancholic. In the second half of the album we also see some more energy injected, like with the duo of “Caged In” and “Soul Disease”.
One thing that I had never realized before is the distinct Christian influence in the lyrics, but if I remember correctly that is something that only came into the picture after the reunion. While not reaching the first four classics, “XI-The Days Before Tomorrow” has turned out to be a strong album that should please many fans of old as well as garnering them some new followers, since some of the LILLIAN AXE trademarks are still there, just paired with some different ingredients than in the past.
(Online August 1, 2012)