Lillian Axe – ‘Sad Day On Planet Earth'
Derrick LaFever – vocals
Steve Blaze – guitar & backing vocals
Sam Piontevent – guitar & backing vocals
Eric Morris – bass
Ken Koudelka – drums
1.) “Cocoon” – Instrumental
2.) “Mega Slow Fade” –Ken starts this intro with a hi-hat count-off. Steve’s rhythm guitar of the intro had a very simple feel to yet at the same time because of its speed also gave it a very intense sound. After ever two measures Ken plays a snare fill. For the last two measures of the intro Sam kicks-in with a second rhythm guitar playing the same rhythm riff. This really causes the song to have an intense sound. There is a rhythm change for the musical verse. I must say I’ve heard every lick Steve has ever recorded and released and the rhythm riff for this musical verse has to be my favorite!!! Derrick’s vocals of the verse sound like they were done using a vocal effect. In between Steve’s rhythm guitar arrangement of the verse Sam plays a second strumming pattern through the rests. Connecting the musical verse with the musical re-chorus there is a small musical section that consisted of several vocal overdubs. In many ways this little vocal section reminded me a lot of the stuff Ron Taylor sang on Lillian Axe’s ‘Psychoschizophrenia’. The musical chorus was done with several tom-tom fills. The musical intro section connects the first chorus with the second verse. The lead guitar solo Steve wrote for this track had an Arabic feel to it. The outro consisted of a repeat of the intro section.
3.) “Jesus Wept” – For the rhythm guitar arrangement of this intro section Steve kept the riffs very simple. Basically letting Ken’s double bass drum licks carry it. There is a small drum fill connecting the intro to the musical pre-verse. The band used the same rhythm for the musical pre-verse that they used for the intro. Derrick carries out the last note of each lyric line. This in a sense gives the lyric lines a drugged out effect. Not only do Steve & Sam change the rhythm arrangement for the musical verse but Ken switches from a standard hi-hat pattern to a pattern on his tom-toms. In the way the guys arranged the music along with the way Derrick set the lyric lines up the pre-chorus has a building effect. There is a very minor and I mean minor lead solo connecting the first pre-chorus with the chorus. Underneath the lead vocals of the chorus Steve plays several lead guitar licks. There is a small revert back to the musical intro connecting the first chorus with the second pre-verse. Connecting the second pre-chorus with the second chorus Steve plays another very minor lead guitar solo. The second chorus was arranged as if it was a breakdown section. However, the breakdown is not until after the second chorus. For this breakdown Ken’s drum line consisted of both the ride cymbal and bass drum playing the same pattern. The guitar section opens with Steve playing a very simple picking arrangement. This is followed by Sam playing the same thing maybe one measure later. Ken plays a very simple drum fill that takes the song into the lead guitar solo. In many ways the way the guys arranged the lead guitar solo section was very reminiscent of the way Yngwie Malmsteen use to arrange his. The next piece of music consisted of a drastic musical change. I can’t even begin to explain what Steve just created musically. All I can do is bow down to the masters!!!!! There is a minor lead guitar solo underneath the vocal lines of the chorus of the outro.
4.) “Ignite” – This track opens with an Eric Morris bass line. The rhythm guitar riffs of the intro were very reminiscent of early Megadeth only slowed down a bit. There are several musical rests with the rhythm guitar arrangement letting the bass line and now drum line bleed through. The band used the same musical arrangements for the musical verse as they had used for the intro. I loved the way they arranged the lead vocals/backing vocals of the pre-chorus. Because of the way they guys done this makes this song one hell of a song to hear live. There is a very cool rhythm guitar riff leading into the musical chorus. Underneath the lyrics of the chorus Steve plays several lead guitar licks. The lead guitar solo connects the second chorus with the third verse. At times this track flirts with being a little abstract.
5.) “The Grand Scale Of Finality” –This track opens with a single guitar riff that was very reminiscent of some of the simple riffs Bruce Kulick wrote for Kiss in the mid-eighties. Not too long into the riff Ken kicks-in a bass drum pattern. Sam also starts playing a second rhythm guitar riff. When Ken switches to his snare the rhythm guitar follows along with it. There is a drastic progressive/Black Sabbath musical change for the second intro. There is a small tom-tom pattern that leads into the musical versed. The guitar riffs are kind of laid back for the musical verse. What really motivates the song was Ken’s drum pattern. Every lyric line of the pre-chorus consisted of a backing harmony. Ken’s drum pattern gave the chorus a very abstract feel. Underneath the second pre-chorus Steve switches to more of a lead riff. This is a very cool yet strange that you have to hear to believe it is Lillian Axe.
6.) “Sad Day On Planet Earth” – As a long time fan of Lillian Axe’s, I honestly cannot think of any song within their entire catalog that even comes close to this song!!!!! Hell for that matter I cannot think of any song that comes close!!!
7.) “Hibernate” – This track opens with a very simple rhythm lick over the top of what sounds like an electric metronome set on the fastest beats per minute plus a bass line. This had to be one of the coolest pre-intro sections I believe I’ve ever heard!!! The main musical intro consisted of an electric guitar arrangement over the top of the previous mentioned musical arrangement along with a drum line underneath. There is a huge drum fill connecting the intro with the musical verse. The musical verse sounds like it consists of two different electric rhythm guitar arrangements plus an acoustic guitar arrangement. Steve used the acoustic rhythm to give the guitar tracks depth. About one measure before the vocal line kicks-in Steve plays this cool little picking pattern. This rhythm pattern becomes the main underlining rhythm underneath Derrick’s vocals. Over the top of this rhythm in between it and the vocals the lead rhythm was the acoustic. Derrick’s vocals of the verse have a Ron Taylor feel. I hate that it sounds like I keep comparing Derrick with Lillian’s original vocalist Ron Taylor. However, I am saying this as a compliment. There is a rhythm change for the musical pre-chorus. The guys also butt the pre-chorus right up against the verse. The acoustic guitar really bleeds through the arrangement on the musical chorus. The breakdown section leading into the lead guitar solo consisted of the same arrangement as the intro. Steve’s solo starts off very intense then gets more melodic and more laid back as it progresses. For the outro section Ken switches the bass drum pattern from a single bass drum to a double-bass drum that follows along with the rhythm guitar riff.
8.) “Within Your Reach” – This track opens with what sounds like a simple orchestrated arrangement. About a measure into this Steve begins playing a simple late fifties early sixties electric picking pattern. Over the top of this Steve plays a minor lead guitar solo. You can tell by the way it sounds that more than likely Steve played everything on this intro section but drums. Leading into the musical verse Steve double tracked the minor solo to give it a twin guitar effect. Steve’s playing on this minor solo is flawless. The band kept the same musical arrangement for the musical verse as they used for the intro section. Derrick’s vocal lines where heavily arranged with a fifties feel. The pre-chorus had a drastic musical change. In the way they recorded the vocal lines sounded as if Derrick sang a duet with himself. The chorus was influenced and reminiscent of the stuff Steve was writing on ‘Psychoschizophrenia’. There are a couple lead guitar licks underneath the second chorus. Steve’s solo fit perfectly with the arrangement. The double tracked vocal lines over the top of the outro section were very cool.
9.) “Down Below The Ocean” – The rhythm guitar over the top of this intro section was actually a minor lead guitar solo arranged in the style of a rhythm. The keyboard arrangement along with the way Steve arranged the guitar riffs of the musical verse gave the music seventies feels. A couple of the lyrical lines of the verse where double tracked. There is a small musical change for the musical pre-chorus. Once again for the musical chorus Steve pulls back to the ‘Psychoschizophrenia’ sessions for inspiration. After the first chorus there is a musical change underneath Steve’s lead guitar solo. The major lead guitar solo is actually over the top of the outro section. There is a small section of the solo that Steve double tracked to give a twin lead guitar effect.
10.) “Blood Raining Down On Her Wings” – I tried to break this track down however the more I listened to it the more I realized it did not need breaking down. All you need to know was it was written with perfection!!!! Lyrically it fits the theme of Lillian Axe’s ‘Poetic Justice’ release.
11.) “Cold Day In Hell” – This track consists of a classic hard rock intro. About one measure into the intro a second rhythm riff kicks-in. There is a small drum fill that connects the musical intro to the musical verse. For the musical verse Steve switches his guitar riff to a picking pattern. This picking arrangement was very reminiscent to some of the picking arrangements Steve wrote in Lillian Axe’s early days. There is a second rhythm riff that is used as a fill-in. Some of Derrick’s lyric lines of the verse were double tracked. There is a rhythm change for the musical pre-chorus. This rhythm change was written with a build-up effect. Derrick’s vocals lines of the pre-chorus where double tracked. The guys wrote one hell of a hook for the chorus!!!! There was a minor lead guitar solo connecting the first chorus second pre-chorus. There is a double tracked lead guitar solo connecting the second pre-chorus with the third pre-chorus. My god what a hook this track has!!!!
12.) “Nocturnal Symphony” – The effects pedal Steve used for the first guitar riff of this intro had a harp sound to it. After one measure of this riff Steve or Sam kicks-in with a second riff over the top of the first. However this riff was done using no effects, then over the top of that one of the guitarists double-tracked a re-verbed riff. Ken’s drum line along with Eric’s bass line was very laid back. There is a small musical rest connecting the intro with the musical verse. The band used the same guitar arrangements for the musical verse as the intro. Derrick really shows his vocal ability on the vocal lines of the first verse. There is an electric rhythm guitar change for the pre-chorus. The way the guys arranged the verse blew me away. What makes the musical verses is the re-verbed rhythm guitar. The lead guitar solo was after the second chorus. The way Steve double tracked the solo gave it a twin lead guitar effect. However, it was to where it sounds as if it is two different solos over top of each other.
13.) “Divine” – This track opens with a very simple rhythm guitar riff. When the musical verse kicks-in the band incorporates an acoustic guitar arrangement in between the drum/bass line and electric rhythm guitar riff. There is a sixties progressive vocal accent that opens the vocal line of the verse. As the verse progresses Ken changes the drum line giving the verse a different feel. The chorus was kept very basic. After the second chorus there is a drastic musical change leading into the lead guitar solo. This musical change has a seventies heavy metal disco feel.
14.) “Kill Me Again” – For this song the intro opens with the drums and guitar playing the exact same thing. Over the top of the main intro section there is a minor lead guitar solo. The musical and vocal verse had a very laid back feel to them. There was a small arrangement change for the pre-chorus. The chorus had a very huge hook attached to it. After the second pre-chorus there is a minor lead guitar solo. After the second chorus there was a change in the dynamics with Ken switching to a double bass drum rhythm. There is a minor lead guitar solo over the top of the outro section.
15.) Fire, Blood, The Earth And Sea” – This song was just awesome!!!!!
The first time I heard the name Lillian Axe was in 1988. It was on a Sunday morning when I was editing the videos I wanted to keep from MTV’s ‘Headbanger’s Ball’ the night before. The video was for the Lillian song “Dream Of A Lifetime” taken off of their self-titled freshman CD. Though 1988 was basically the beginning of the end for this style of music, plus bad promotion and bad management, I still thought of all the new band’s that released CD’s that year of this genre Lillian Axe would be the one group to make it. Outside of putting everyone down in the music business or rock fans in general, for that matter, how in the hell has Lillian Axe flown so far underneath the radio for twenty-one years and why is Steve Blaze not at least in the top ten guitarists of all-time.
With Steve being tied for first place on my list as the best hard rock guitarist of all-time (the other being Michael Schenker). Plus, learning many of their songs for a band I played drums for between ’86 to ’96. I have heard every Steve Blaze rhythm riff and lead licks played not only forward and backward but also played the right way along with the wrong. If you take all of the best rhythm riffs/arrangements and lead solos from Lillian Axe’s 1988 Self-Titled release to their 2007’s ‘Water’s Rising’ (which, was the first release with this current line-up) the end outcome would be every guitar lick on this CD. If the Lillian Axe’s guitarists were high school classes Jon & Steve would be a B+ were Sam & Steve is an A+!!!! For the older Lillian fans who are still hesitate about Derrick’s vocals please, please give him a chance. Because I can guarantee the first time you listen to Derrick you will be a fan. As a fan all I can say is ‘Sad Day On Planet Earth’ is the best the band as released to date and an absolute must have!!!!