Published on January 7th, 2017 | by Justin G.
Kick Axe: Vices
Canadian hard rockers Kick Axe made their full-length debut in 1984 with Vices. The band had been kicking around the scene since the late ‘70s, but it wasn’t until the rise of heavy metal in the mid ‘80s that they really took off.
On Vices, we’re introduced to a band that straddled the line between hard rock and heavy metal, much like Dokken, Helix and to some extent Leatherwolf did. Leadoff single “Heavy Metal Shuffle” makes it clear how Kick Axe saw themselves, but there are a lot of songs on Vices – “Stay on Top,” “Dreamin’ About You” and “On the Road to Rock” for example – that would not have been out of place on a Y&T album. The band had a knack for writing catchy yet hard-hitting anthems, and the musicianship and vocal power to make those anthems really stand out. 30+ years on and songs like “Alive & Kickin’” still get the blood pumping.
Vices didn’t exactly make Kick Axe superstars (though with a bigger label push it certainly could have), but it was the beginning of a series of classic albums from this too often overlooked Canadian band. Fans of ‘80s hard rock (especially bands like Helix, Y&T and Dokken) and melodic heavy metal (Fifth Angel, Leatherwolf, etc.) really need to check out Kick Axe, and Vices is the ideal place to start. And as good as this album is, the albums that followed were even better!
Reissue Notes: Vices has seen a couple of different reissues over the years, but we got the definitive version late last year thanks to the reissue experts at the Rock Candy label. Their reissue of Vices features brand new digital remastering, the bonus track “30 Days in the Hole” (from the Up the Creek soundtrack) and a booklet loaded with vintage photos and a very detailed band history by Classic Rock scribe Malcolm Dome. It would have been nice to see the band’s early singles included, as they’ve never made it to disc, but that’s a small gripe. This is a first class reissue, which is exactly what fans expect from this label.
Summary: It's a worthwhile upgrade, and just a really strong album to begin with.