AXENSTAR - Chapter VIII cover art
  • 4.2/10
    AXENSTAR - Chapter VIII - 4.2/10


Label: Inner Wound Recordings
Release date: December 1, 2023

User Review
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Sometimes comparing one band to another can be very deceiving. Swedish Power Metal act Axenstar have been compared to Helloween and Stratovarius, but they’re nowhere near as memorable as them. Let’s backtrack a bit. Axenstar weren’t meant to be an actual band; they were initially a cover band called Powerage who formed in 1998. However, shortly after switching their name to Axenstar, they started writing their own music in order to be taken seriously. They signed with their first label, Arise Records, in 2002. In total, Axenstar have released seven studio albums and their eighth studio album, Chapter VIII, will be their second release under Inner Wound Recordings.

The Good

Let’s focus on the positives first. Most of the songs are pretty decent. “Through the Fire and Brimstone” has catchy pop hooks and nice vocal melodies. “The Great Deceiver” is a mid-tempo, dramatic, moody number. “Holy Land” is loaded with hooks and melodies galore. “The War Within” is another dark and moody number with killer drumwork from Pelle Åkerlind.

The Really Bad

However, the production and lead vocals ruin the mood for the album. The lead vocals, bass guitar, and electric guitars (for certain tracks) are buried in the mix. Yes, even with two guitar players, their parts are hard to make out, especially during the solo for “Heavenly Symphony.” The drums and keyboards are so loud that they’re nauseating to listen to. As mentioned before, the songs are well-written, but the unbalanced production makes the whole album sound like a chaotic mess.

As for Magnus Winterwild’s vocals, he doesn’t have the right edge or strength for the songs, especially with Åkerlind’s bombastic kick drumming. It feels like Winterwild is trying to fight with the rest of the band to be heard. It’s also worth mentioning “Eye for an Eye,” which is a little too poppy. The lyrics are depressing and it doesn’t fit with the rest of the album tracks.

Final Assessment

Chapter VIII could’ve been an amazing album, but it was poorly executed. Of course, it depends on the listener and is based on preference. There are a few melodic guitar solos that are worth paying attention to, but for the most part, Chapter VIII is mostly a drum show-off album, as weird as that sounds.

Album Tracklist

  1. Heavenly Symphony
  2. Through the Fire and Brimstone
  3. The Great Deceiver
  4. Enchanted Lands
  5. The Flame of Victory
  6. No Surrender
  7. Holy Land
  8. Eye for an Eye
  9. The War Within
  10. Life Eternal

Band Lineup

Magnus Winterwild – lead vocals and bass guitar
Jens Klovegård – guitars
Joakim Jonsson – guitars
Pelle Åkerlind – drums


  • Lana Teramae

    Lana is a reviewer at Metal Express Radio from Honolulu, Hawaii. She's always had a passion for music, but she didn't get into Hard Rock and Heavy Metal music until she discovered Rick Allen's story in the summer of 2019. She was inspired by his determination to play drums for Def Leppard again after losing his left arm in a car accident. From there, her tastes expanded to other bands such as AC/DC, Bon Jovi, Metallica, Judas Priest, Saxon, Cinderella, and Overkill. Aside from listening to music, she loves watching YouTube and writing on her personal blog.

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