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That time Genghis said...
Album of the Month - September
  • Hymns For The Broken (ltd. 2CD digipak edition)
    Hymns For The Broken (ltd. 2CD digipak edition)
    by Evergrey
Video of the Month - September
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall [Blu-ray]
    Breaking the Fourth Wall [Blu-ray]
    by Dream Theater
Good Reading
  • The Big Book of Hair Metal: The Illustrated Oral History of Heavy Metal's Debauched Decade
    The Big Book of Hair Metal: The Illustrated Oral History of Heavy Metal's Debauched Decade
    by Martin Popoff
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CD of the Month
  • Mudvayne
    Mudvayne
    by Mudvayne
Inspiration
  • Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground New Edition
    Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground New Edition
    by Michael Moynihan, Didrik Soderlind
  • Retribution
    Retribution
    by Shadows Fall
  • Brutal Legend
    Brutal Legend
    Electronic Arts
Monday
Aug112014

Dragonforce - Maximum Overload

If you really think Dragonforce is "just a wankfest", you're just not listening. Seriously.If you're not a big fan of Dragonforce, you probably at least know them for their epic tune/video Through The Fire And Flames, which showcased the band's incredible musicianship to varying reactions worldwide. Say what you want about the band, but they can play the shit out of some metal. And they do just that on their sixth studio album, Maximum Overload.

And for what it's worth, these cats make a pretty damn good power metal album. The trick is you have to remove all of the other stuff, the hype, the jeers, and what have you, and just listen to the album. Herman Li and Sam Totman make good music, especially when it's given room to breathe and not treated like a how-many-notes-can-they-cram-into-this-song contest.

On tracks like Three Hammers you get a better sense of the band's ability to set a mood and build up to a climax in a mature approach to songwriting that they're often dismissed for not having. There's even a nice bit of thrashy rhythyms thrown into the mix that works nicely as on Defenders which later gives way to a cool interlude (3:02) just before the solos blow shit up. And just wait until you check out the goodfeel™ vibe of Extraction Zone's interlude. I'm tellin' you, there's some good stuff going on here.

Vocalist Marc Hudson taking over vocal duties from ZP Theart - after ZP left due to musical differences - handles his role ably, sounding like a cross between Ted Leonard (Enchant) and Max Bacon (GTR). The rest is up to Li and Totman as the axe-wielding dynamic duo, and their familiar panoply of licks and crazy guitar sounds fit the mood of the music for the most part, if occasionally threatening to undermine the more impressive moments - but hey, they've got a signature sound. Nothing wrong with that. If it ain't your cup o' tea, there's other bands out there.

The Bottom Line: The band's detractors who say that Dragonforce is all gimmicks haven't listened through a entire album, I can almost guarantee it. These lads are just making good old-fashioned power metal and clearly having a blast doing what they do for a living. So what's the problem?

- Genghis fears the prospect of actually headbanging to Dragonforce in real-time...

Friday
Jul252014

Trioscapes - Digital Dream Sequence

It's just a crying shame that bands like Trioscapes isn't all over the damn place - especially playing sweet clubs in my hometown...When jazz metal neo-fusion group Trioscapes put out their debut album Separate Realities two years ago, I was instantly hooked. I've always been a fan of the incredible showmanship that master jazz musicians display onstage together, always challenging each other without it ever seeming to be a pissing contest. It's synergy of the best kind.

And luckily, they've decided to make another album of hardcore jazz beauty.  Case in point, the 3:55 mark of the title track is where some of the best jamming comes into play, carrying the player on a sonic flying carpet through a world of ethereal freeform grooviness I can't even (adequately) describe; you're just either into it or you're not, that's all I can tell you. Don't worry, it's not all breakneck riffs and runs. Tracks like From The Earth To The Moon has a sweet Chick Corea thing going on that breaks into a fuzzy bass stomp then into a haunting flute melody. There's some truly impressive dynamics going on with these cats, and I just can't get enough of it, and fans of old school fusion's audaciousness and musical innovation will surely pick up on this as the new generation of that great form.

The Bottom Line: More jazz than metal, Trioscapes is a power trio of the highest musical order. This is some of the best neo-fusion available today, period.

- Genghis so wishes he could play in a band like this...

Friday
Jul252014

Death Penalty - Sign Of Times (EP)

I'm diggin' this female-fronted doom metal band from the UK. Keep an ear open for the full length later this year.What happens when British doom metal legends Cathedral finally call it quits? Well, if you're riffmaster Garry "Gaz" Jennings, you hook up with a Belgian singer like Michelle Nocon and start working on a new album stat. And while it's too soon for that album to be out just yet, the band Death Penalty has shrewdly released a 7" with their forthcoming first single "Sign Of The Times".

Now, so far, Michelle isn't necessarily belting it out Ann Wilson style right from the get-go. But there's clearly some talent there, and her smooth vocals layer over Gaz' fantastically epic grooves in a very appealing mix of old school metal without sounding like just another retread. In a world where retro is the norm, this is some truly great sounding music on its own. And I mean that; there's some really sweet guitar playing in these two tracks that could easily stand up to anything out there today. Not too shabby, Gaz.

The Bottom Line: If Sign Of Times is any indication, when Death Penalty releases their debut full length album later this year, you're gonna hear some serious shit. And you can take that to the bank. The money bank.

Genghis is intrigued by Michelle's Belgian (read: beer, I want beer) heritage...

Friday
Jul252014

Corrosion Of Conformity - IX

If you're a Pepper fan, he's not back yet, but this album rocks all the same. So calm yourself!Fans of Corrosion of Conformity (CoC) surely know that the band has been rocking for over 30 years now. And while their heyday was 20 years ago, those Carolina boys still know how to make some bitchin’ rock music. After a second hiatus in 2006 that led to a return in 2010 (sans Pepper Keenan) and 2012’s self-titled album, the original lineup of Reed Mullin (drums), Woody Weatherman (guitar) and Mike Dean (bass, vocals) have just released their ninth studio album, IX.

What I like about CoC is that their music comes with an authenticity that’s hard for new bands to match. But the real problem a lot of people have involves Pepper Keenan, who left in 2006 to play and tour with Down but isn't "officially" out of the band (yes, there's hope for you Pepperheads). Many consider him to be essential to the Southern-fried sound (Keenan being from Louisiana) of the band, having been the vocalist for their most successful album, Deliverance. And while Mike Dean, the band's original vocalist, is no Pepper, his vocals fit the music on this album just fine. The success of this latest LP will have to depend on its merits and not Pepper-era fans. And I think it should succeed, as this is some of the best doom metal tuneage I've heard in a while. The riffs are bigger than a wall of Marshall stacks and the groove is slicker than the bottom of your plate after a mess o' Carolina barbecue. So check it out.

The Bottom Line: Fans of the original, pre-Pepper incarnation of CoC will likely appreciate the return of their sound to its punky, groovy roots. But new fans, unburdened by the weight of a band's glory days, should find a lot to like here too with music that's thoroughly rocking irrespective of its context. So smoke 'em if you got 'em, and enjoy.

- Genghis admits he wouldn't recognize Albatross if he heard it...

Monday
Jul212014

Allegaeon - Elements Of The Infinite

Them Colorado boys not only know how to make some killer tech melodeath, but they make some of the most impressive album covers in the biz.As one of the better technical melodic death metal bands out there, Allegaeon is all about intensity - though not at the expense of melody. And thanks to recent changes in the band, Brandon Park (drums) and Michael Stancel (guitars) have helped breathe some life into the creative process, making the band's latest album Elements of the Infinite one of their finest efforts yet.

One of the things that draws me into their art is the balance they bring to the form. While they are quite adept at high-falutin' concepts like the Golden Ratio (1.618), Dyson Spheres, and Gravimetric Time Dilation, they don't take themselves so seriously they can't have fun. For proof of the latter, check out their tongue-in-cheek video for 1.618 which features the band trying to decide in what style the video should be made, resorting to spinning a wheel of various subgenres with hilarious results (with thrash hitting quite close to home).

The Bottom Line: Technical melodic death metal can easily get way in over its head, but Allegaeon have always managed to keep a tight reign on their music, making the experience not only enlightening but damn fun to thrash to.

- Genghis thought the glam metal vision needed more hot chicks...