Axis: Sova arrives on the scene to settle a score only late 70s/early 80s rockers thought unsettled. Namely, is there only one way to rock — as Sammy Hagar famously declared, to “crank up the drums, crank out the bass/Crank up my Les Paul in your face”? Rising to the Van Halen usurper’s challenge, the Axis lays down a grizzled twin-ax attack, pelvis-vibrating bass, and… the simple entreaties of a boompa-chicka rhythm machine. This primitive cyborg sound is unsettling yet proves quickly effective, the hoary riff-rock boogie of “(Like An) Intruder” driving Hagar’s legions to storm the Cabo Wabo pits, spilling beer on themselves and tearing off their faded concert tees with an exuberant, collective WOO.
But the secrets of the boompa-chicka have not yet been exhausted! On their new album Motor Earth, Axis: Sova lifts off the bar-band stage to explore space-rock horizons. Swallowed by the blackness of the galactic void, the machine transcends its original function as ironic commentary on retro rockism, becoming revealed on tracks like “Violent Yellow” as a calculating device with which this Chicago-baed band plots coordinates for interstellar chooglin’. The Axis: Sova alloy of old and new, guitar shredfest and low-tech beats, cheap beer and rocket fuel, suggests the promise of big-bellied hard rock has never flagged, even if we may have lost our scratchy copy of the 1981 “Heavy Metal” soundtrack album.
Motor Earth is out now on God? Records.