AXEL (L - R : Chris De Grom, Franky Van den Bergh, Dominique De Vos, Stefaan Lambrecht,  Frank Deroubaix) (picture supplied by Franky Van den Bergh)


AXEL, a melodic HR / HM outfit from the Aalst / Affligem / Hekelgem region, first started out in 1982. The instigators were 'Earsplitting' Ben Smeesters (vocals), Stefaan Lambrecht (guitar) and Filip 'Flip' Zahirovic (drums). A couple of months (and line-up changes) later the line-up was rounded out with Frank Jacobs (bass) and Mike ? (guitar). In those days AXEL played plenty of covers, by the likes of ACCEPT, BLACK SABBATH (Paranoid), JUDAS PRIEST (Grinder), THE HANDSOME BEASTS, TWISTED SISTER, …

More line-up changes occurred in 1983. Bassist Frank Jacobs left, and was soon followed by guitarist Mike ?, who is rumoured to have become a New Wave fan from then on. The band was put on ice for a couple of weeks, until they found a new bassist in Wim Nerinckx. Eventually a new guitarist was found in Bennie Bulté. This quintet line-up recorded the Attack 1 demo at a small 4-track studio in late 1983. On April 23rd 1983 AXEL had been part of a 'Vrij Podium' line-up in Aalst that also included IRON GREY and CROSSFIRE.

In early 1984, after a show in Aalst, vocalist Ben Smeesters was asked to leave : a replacement was found in Jerry 'The Voice'. On Saturday May 4th 1984 AXEL was part of the line-up of the Heavy Rock In Town festival in Aalst, being second on the bill, alongside openers BAD LIZARD, BLACK WIDOW and CROSSFIRE. In fact, this was Jerry's first gig fronting AXEL. By the way, although Jerry had already gained experience in a couple of bands prior to this, AXEL was his first take on HR & HM. The band displayed several new tunes on this occasion (Sweet Burning Angel, Liar, She's A Heavy Metal Thunder, …) and it became obvious that AXEL had become heavier and stronger as a unit. Jerry's vocals turned out to be a real improvement as well.

In June of 1984 the band entered a small 4-track studio again, and recorded the Effort 2 demo. It clearly showcased the band's change of style from hard rock to a mixture of hard rock and heavy metal. On the evidence of this second demo the band was able to attract the attention of a manager in late 1984. On New Year's Eve 1984, or rather the first minutes of 1985, AXEL played at Disco dancing (!) De Split in Brugge. This gig was organised by the Heavy Sound festival people to announce the third edition of their festival, which was to be held on May 26th 1985. In fact, AXEL were promised the opening spot on that edition, but this never happened in the end, as the sponsors didn't want any Belgian bands on the bill.

This manager also paid for the recordings of what was supposed to become AXEL first vinyl release, a three-song 7". The recordings took place in early 1985 at Adam's Music Store in Ternat, and were produced and mixed by W. Adams and the band. Before the project was completed though, the manager went bankrupt, and no AXEL 7" was ever released. Although Sweet Burning Angel did find its way onto the Metal Power V 7" EP compilation later on in 1985. The Metal Power compilation series were released on a Dutch label called Iceman, which was run by Tiny van Stiphout, of Dutch Hitkrant magazine fame. The other three bands on said compilation 7" all hailed from Holland : SCARLET ANGEL (Living Wild), VILLAIN (White Snow) and PROUD EXISTENCE (Blindfolded).

By then AXEL had become one of the most active Belgian metal live outfits as well, playing in such places as Kerksken (Elysee Pub, 27/01/1985), Moorsel (Parochiezaal, 02/02/1985, with BRAIN SHAKE and TRIAL), Weelde (Jeugdclub The Kid Boy, 20/04/1985) and Aartrijke (Rocktempel St. James, 11/05/1985). AXEL also participated in the Metallysee festival at the St. Anna Zaal in Aalst on June 29th 1985, alongside RITUAL, FIST ATTACK, ROCK IN PEACE, BAD LIZARD and OSTROGOTH. By then bassist Wim Nerinckx was already replaced by Wim Vandersmissen. On August 31st 1985 AXEL was also part of the line-up for the first Whiplash (magazine) festival, which attracted over 500 people. The line-up that day read like this : BATTLECRY, EXPLORER, AXEL, WARHEAD, Holland's HORIZON and Germany's LIVING DEATH.

On January 1st 1986 the AXEL Army fanclub was instigated. Besides a fanzine every three months, people could also purchase a wide variety of merchandise (stickers, t-shirts, promo pictures, live pictures, buttons, mini-posters, demos, …). Members received a 10% reduction on all merchandise. On Saturday January 18th 1986 AXEL were second on the 2nd Battle Of Death festival bill, which was held at De Kriekelaar in Schaarbeek. Also displaying their skills that particular day were openers RED DAWN, PARIAH, EXPLORER, CYCLONE and BAD LIZARD. In December of 1986 AXEL went into the 24-track D.E.S. studio with producer Pierre Wallyn (of BAD LIZARD fame) and recorded a 5-song demo. This marked the first official recording with new vocalist Dennis Hagels.

By the end of 1987 AXEL had a stable line-up once again. Apart from only survivor, guitarist Stefaan Lambrecht, the line-up then included vocalist Chris De Grom (ex FIST ATTACK), guitarist Frank Deroubaix (ex HYPHEN), bassist Dominique De Vos (ex PROWLER) and drummer Frank 'Spencer' Van den Bergh (ex AGONY).

This constellation started to rehearse intensely and eventually commenced to play live again in April of 1988. On November 5th 1988 AXEL played live at the St. Berlindiskring venue in Meerbeke (Ninove), together with Dutch openers ST. MORITZ and headliners HELLFIRE, who were presenting their new demo on that occasion. In December of 1988 drummer Frank Van den Bergh left and was soon replaced by Peter De Bosschere (ex SWEETHINGS).

In February and March of 1989 a new demo was recorded, at the Alfa Studio in Gent, with producer Steef Verwee and engineer Johan Van Compernolle. Visions Of Tomorrow was released later on in March of 1989. The band started to play live again as well, in Welle (Sporthal, 15/04/1989, with SHELL SHOCK and SIXTY NINE), Oudenaarde (Schoolgebouw, 22/04/1989, with THORAZINE and ALBION) and Gent (Democrazy, 27/05/1989, with SHELL SHOCK). A couple of gigs in Holland followed as well.

After a break during the summer, Stefaan Lambrecht was asked to leave in early November of 1989, and the band decided to continue as a quartet for a while from then onwards. The band also found a new rehearsal spot in Gent, and in November and December of 1989 they went into the DK Studios in Destelbergen with engineer Rudy De Keyser and co-producer Steef Verwee, and recorded 10 new songs.

The band was eager to find an interesting record deal at last, and thus took the recordings to the annual international music festival, called Midem, in Cannes, France. That was in late January of 1990. At that moment in time, the band was trying out a new guitarist as well, in order to replace Stefaan at last. Peter Dhondt was the lucky one. No deal was achieved though, yet the band intended to release new material in the spring of 1990. Live performances took place on March 17th 1990 in Stabroek (Hardrock Circus) and May 19th 1990 in Oudenaarde (Oude Gemeenteschool).

Former guitarist Stefaan Lambrecht claimed the rights to the name and as a result no more AXEL release ever saw the light of day. However, Frank Deroubaix would eventually recycle five of those unreleased songs on SHANNAH's Endless mLP in 1991.

By early 1991 Chris De Grom, Dominique De Vos, Frank Deroubaix and Peter De Bosschere had teamed up with bassist File Beyens and became DAYDREAM PROJECT. That band recorded one (unreleased) 4-song demo (Parttime Lover, One Step, Beautiful, Daydream Survival) in January and February of 1991, at CCR Studio in Zulte.

As I already mentioned, Frank Deroubaix started SHANNAH later on in 1991. Apart from the aforementioned 1991 mLP, that band also released a 3-song demo in 1993. SHANNAH's line-up in those days also included female vocalist Conny Visschers, bassist Wics Rombouts (ex POWERAID, ex THORAX, ex JAILBREAKER), drummer Wim Leys and keyboardplayer Allan A. Anderson.

Later on in the 1990's Frank Deroubaix surfaced in RUNAWAY, who released one (selftitled) CD in 1998. As of December 2001 Frank was in 2ND SKIN, who released one demo in 2003, followed by the Second To None CD in 2005. In 2007 Frank also released his first solo CD, simply entitled F.D.

Drummer Franky Van den Bergh joined HIGHWAY in 1993, then BUBBLE BURST in 1997. He quit playing drums in 1998.

Guitarist Dominique De Vos is fronting SOUTHERN VOODOO these days.


1983 : Attack 1 (demo) {We Are The Band, Meanin' Of Our Life, Rosary, Honey, Guitarman, Metalman, Serial Victim, Mistress Of The Dusk}

1984 : Effort 2 (demo) {No More Fateful Days, Sweet Burning Angel, Liar, Money, Interruption, She's A Heavy Metal Thunder, Rock 'N' Roll}

1985 : Demo {Sweet Burning Angel, Interruption, Money}

1985 : Sweet Burning Angel released on Metal Power V compilation 7" (Iceman Records)

1985 : We Won't Give Up (demo) {Bangin' On Your Own, Go Down, Can't You See}
{Note : some copies also included Money (from Effort 2) as a bonus track}

1986 : Demo {Rising, Shit On The Wall, Stand Up, Young And Mean, Black Jack}

1989 : Visions Of Tomorrow (demo) {The Beast, We Will Rock, Don't Wanna Be Free, Visions Of Tomorrow, Fire In Your Eyes, Feeling Down}

1990 : Unreleased LP {Out Of This Room, Skateboarding Is Not A Crime, The Curtain Falls, Feeling Down, Fire In Your Eyes, Visions Of Tomorrow, Don't Hold Back, Once Shannah, The Cycle Ends, Flat Tyre}

Consulted people

Franky Van den Bergh

Related links

First posted

January 18th 2008

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