I can sum up Max the Axe’s latest EP, Oktoberfest Cheer in two words. Bitter Sweet.
The best sound to ascend from Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario is not completely over but it will not be the same going forward. Lead singer Eric “Uncle Meat” Litwiller announced on The LeBrain Train this past summer that he will be moving on from the group, making Oktoberfest Cheer the final release from this version of Max the Axe.
It is hard to believe, but if the EP is his last with the band, “Uncle Meat” went out on a high note.
It begins with an original, Pygmy Blow Dart. Judging by the title alone, I figured this would have some punk energy and I got it right for once. The band’s biggest difference in sound this time when compared to their previous album Static Electric is Mike Mitchell’s bass. It now sports a Lemmy vibe with punkish Marshall crunch.
I wouldn’t label the entire song as punk, however. “Uncle Meat’s” straight vocal melody keeps the tune grounded in the band’s Ozzy-Sabbath roots. Regardless of which genre you want to fit it into, this is a great high voltage opener!
The next song is a cover of Black Flag’s Thirsty and Miserable (Which, coincidently enough, Lemmy had covered at one point as well) and it is fantastic. I am a fan of this song and have heard it be covered many times before. This might be the first and only instance I have been able to make out its lyrics. A perfect fit on a punkish album about Oktoberfest!
The final tune is the title track, Oktoberfest Cheer. The song’s frantic style didn’t grab me at first. There is a lot going on with the addition of an accordion from Catherine Thompson and it felt like the band was being pushed down the stairs a little ahead of her. But it takes a turn for the better once the song gets into the groove of the chorus. A fun tune that ends beautifully with “Uncle Meat” shouting at us to not crush his smokes or spill his beer.
I hope those are not the last words I hear him say as the frontman for Max the Axe as I can’t think of many pills that are harder to swallow. Although, who knows what the future may bring? Reunions happen all of the time. For now, we just have to accept how this might be it. Someone much wiser than me once said “You can feel sad that it is over or be glad that it had happened.” Well, I am so glad that it had happened!