Kick Axe (1976-1988, 2003-present): a Heavy Metal band from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.
ormed in Regina, Saskatchewan in 1974, Kick Axe was started by Larry Gillstrom (guitar) and Victor Langen (bass) under the name Hobbit. It would be in 1976 that they changed their name to Kick Axe, and after several line-up changes, by 1979, they added a guitarist Raymond Harvey and relocated to Vancouver, British Columbia in search of greater exposure. Langen, however, was not willing to leave Saskatchewan and that was when Larry's brother and his brother Gary Langen (drums/lead vocals) stepped in. The group began recording in 1979 but scrapped the sessions because they felt they needed a more distinguished front man. Vocalist Charles McNary was brought in to fill that role. One of their first recorded appearances would be on a Playboy compilation album.
McNary left the band in 1982, and after an international search, he was replaced in 1983 by George Criston (from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA). The group soon after signed a deal with Spencer Proffer's 'Pasha Records'. Their debut album Vices (1984) arrived with critical acclaim and became their best known release ever, giving the band exposure with tours along side Judas Priest, Whitesnake, Scorpions and Quiet Riot. The third single from Vices (appearing only on the cassette version), a cover of Humble Pie's 30 Days in the Hole appeared on the Up the Creek movie soundtrack in 1984. The song also appeared on the first of two Much Music compilation albums promoting the network's weekly Power Hour program. The album topped 126 on the charts.
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The follow-up album Welcome to the Club (1985) strayed away from their rock anthems for a more radio-friendly sound, and included a handful of guest stars. It reached the Billboard Top 200, but disappointed longtime fans. Meanwhile, the group appeared on The Transformers: The Movie soundtrack under the name of Spectre General, the name change being due to legal complications. They recorded two songs under that name: Hunger (later covered by King Kobra in their 1985 album Ready to Strike) and Nothin's Gonna Stand in Our Way (a cover of a song by John Farnham from the film Savage Streets) which were included on the soundtrack. Harvey left the band in 1986, leaving the band to carry on as a four-piece. Their next album, Rock the World (1986) was a return to their heavy metal roots. Despite this by then all momentum had been lost. By 1988, dropped by their record label, the band split.
Kick Axe reformed in 2003 with original member Gary Langen singing for Criston who was unavailable to join the reunion due to prior work commitments. The resulting album, Kick Axe IV was released the following year. In 2008 Gary Langen left the band and was replaced with new vocalist Daniel Nargang, formerly of the Regina metal band Into Eternity. The act continue to play Canadian tour dates and rock festivals; the height of their career now past.
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