The big shot producers, label deals, videos for MTV, all the key support slots in those heady, magical days of long-haired rock 'n' roll in the low '90s. Indeed, New Orleans survivors Lillian Axe have persevered through more than 20 years of sincere music-loving and music-crafting, arriving at the record chief songsmith and guitarist Steve Blaze calls "our most mature record, the truest to the sound of what the band has wanted to achieve since its inception back in 1983." That's quite the statement, given the unparalleled reputation Lillian Axe has garnered amongst serious musicologists, despite being lumped in with the hair bands of the day. In fact, the almost unfortunate timing of being big news during those days has helped keep relatively secret the fact that Lillian Axe have been - at least from records like Love + War on - a strident, ambitious, complicated band Zeppelin-esque in spirit and Queen-like of explosive creativity and meticulous execution. And yet magnificently, this time-honored surfeit of talent, passion and work ethic deliberately soared tangentially yet boldly from a base that embraced a certain pristine melodic rock sensibility that is, yes, part and parcel of that early '90s metal sound now seen as "corporate." Waters Rising features a new vocalist in Derrick LeFevre, who is in possession of the same pristine, clear, powerful sound that Ron Taylor had, a necessary trait given the panoramic majesty of these songs, be they dark progressive rockers like "Deep In The Black" or solid gold smash balladry such as "Until The End Of The World." Quiet simply Waters Rising is arguably this band's second masterpiece, the first being 1993's Psychoschizophrenia, a deceptively sweet and smooth record actually way heavier and smarter than folks give credit. Waters Rising is in that realm and deserves serious attention. Amusingly, we don't have to tell you to give it a chance, it has to be played right through, or it'll grow on you. Cue it up anywhere. It is obviously and immediately a joy to behold. Whether you're looking for traditional metal or something lighter, you'll get it right away. The pay-off of repeated listens will become apparent as you make them, namely the discovery that Blaze has massaged into these pieces all manner of ear candy that can only come from a man and band this obsessive about their craft.