That time Genghis said...
Album of the Month - October
  • Full Circle (2CD+DVD)
    Full Circle (2CD+DVD)
    by Pagan's Mind
Video of the Month - October
  • Full Circle [Blu-ray]
    Full Circle [Blu-ray]
    starring n/a
Most. Metal. Comic. Ever.
  • Black Metal: Omnibvs
    Black Metal: Omnibvs
    by Rick Spears, Chuck BB

CD of the Month
  • Mudvayne
    by Mudvayne
  • 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
    by Shadows Fall
  • Brutal Legend
    Brutal Legend
    Electronic Arts

Vanden Plas - Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld II

Those mad German geniuses are back with the conclusion of the tale of Andrej Delãnymay. Behold!If you read my review of Vanden Plas' Chronicles of the Immortals - Netherworld [Path One], then you may likely know all about their anticipated follow-up, Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld II. But first, bear with me while I mention right off the bat that this is a classic example of one of the problems with long titles: no consistency in syntax. Meh. Whatever, right?

Suffice it to say that this latest release is the second half of the band's collaboration with successful homeland author Wolfgang Hohlbein, based on his vampire series Die Chronik der Unsterblichen (The Chronicle of the Immortals). And that if youheard and liked the band's progrmetal sound from previous works (specifically the preceding album in this saga) you'll like this. With the story of the immortal Andrej Delãnymay continuing as he makes his way through the Netherworld to save others as well as himself, there may be more contemplative moments as the story arcs, but its still classic VP all the way. Singer Andy Kuntz worked with Hohlbein nad his manager to flesh out the story and it's perhaps that level of devotion to the source material that helped the bad connect to it as well as they did. And given their progmetal pedigree, I would even propose that this album could stand on its own, though it's obviously meant to be a part of a larger work. There's just some fantastic atmospheric music on this disc, providing that characteristic sense of dynamics, that makes the subgenre so much more interesting than standard metal with its themes of getting laid and starting fights, and that fits the darker, more philisophic nature of the story's themes.

The Bottom Line: Fans of either Vanden Plas or Wolfgang Hohlbein will likely enjoy this two-part saga, if only to have a modern progmetal opera (there aren't many is what I'm saying) amongst their music collection.

- Genghis might have to find that graphic novel...


Metal Allegiance (self-titled)

Metal dudes unite! Oh, I guess they did. Well, here's hoping that this becomes a regular thing.Since 2011, multiple and diverse metal artists have bandied the idea about to jam and record together. The result of this union (we won't call it a supergroup) is captured in 2015 on Metal Allegiance's self-titled album. Let's give it the once over, eh?

The main band is essentially Alex Skolnick (Testament) on guitar, Mike Portnoy (The Winery Dogs) on drums, and David Ellefson (Megadeth) on bass, with various guest shots throughout the disc. Highlights include some sweet, tasteful soloing by Skolnick on Let Darkness Fall, including both electric and acoustic shredding that sounds like it's from a lost spaghetti western soundtrack. I can't help but love Can't Kill The Devil as the inimitable Chuck Billy joins cohort Skolnick in a decidedly Testament-y song that has Portnoy rocking those blast beats. Scars starts out like a straight-forward thrash tune with Mark Osegueda (Death Angel) growling away in fine fashion until the chorus takes a turn as Cristina Scabbia's (Lacuna Coil) harmonized voice takes it to the next level. Wait Until Tomorrow is largely sustained by the always enjoyable sound of one of metal's most soulful voices, Dug Pinnick (King's X), reminding me how much I want a new King's X album. Triangulum is the closest I've heard Mike Portnoy getting back to the rhythymic gymnastics of his glory days in Dream Theater and as George Costanza once put it, "it moved...". Seriously, check out that instrumental if you get the chance. Killer stuff. The deluxe edition will get a bonus track, a cover of Ronnie James Dio's We Rock which sounds great. Skolnick's playing is satisfyingly aggressive, and guest singers like Tim "Ripper" Owens and Alissa White-Gluz give the song a nice edge with a nice solo section. The maestro would be proud.

The Bottom Line: Hearing different artists get together to jam is always entertaining for the novelty of it. In practice the formula unfortunately has had mixed results. The basic "house" band of Skolnick, Portnoy and Ellefson is as solid as they come, but the actual songs (save for a couple) don't really stand out on their own above anything else the individual artists have done in their respective day gigs. That said, I would really like to see this become a recurring project with a rotating roster going forward if only for the occasional gems that would no doubt come from such collaborations.

- Genghis wanted this to be a truly amazing album...


A Sound Of Thunder - Tales From The Deadside

A Sound Of Thunder's latest epic album is out and even the cover looks fucking great.Holy shit, there's a new album out from DC-area A Sound Of Thunder and I couldn't be more excited. You may recall my review of their fantastic fourth album, A Lesser Key Of Solomon, and how lead singer Nina Osegueda sings the shit out of some great American heavy metal. Well, Oz and company are back to kick your ass with a new concept album based on popular Valiant comic book superhero Shadowman, Tales From The Deadside. Fuck yes!

From the killer opening track Children of the Dark, it seems to me that if you aren't already a fan of Nina's singing you soon will be. Like everything about this band, this is classic heavy metal all the way: big metaphysical themes, meaty, overdriven riffs, powerful, emotional vocals. ASOT goes for broke from the get go and I fucking love it. There's a narrative link between each track to lay out the story, making it a bit hard to listen to a given track on its own, but this may likely be the intent of the band to make a cohesive story-driven record, like a 10-issue limited comic series. Huge props to everyone on this disc, from Nina to co-founders Josh Schwartz (guitar) and Chris Haren (drums), to Jesse Keen (bass), 'cause each of them performs their asses off.

What amazes me most is that this is a simple four piece band with no great diversity of instrumentation - save for bassist Jesse who sometimes mans the keyboards - yet they have this arena-level sound (kudos to Kevin '131' Gutierrez on producing chores, by the way) that makes you imagine at least a half dozen people onstage to produce a sound this big - and some of these tracks are anthemic as hell. Man, their live shows must have a phenomenal vibe, especially if they do this album in its entirety. Miss Osegueda alone should have young women across the country contemplating a career in heavy metal.

The Bottom Line: At the risk of hyperbole, I think this band kicks serious ass in terms of classic American heavy metal and if there's any justice these guys should one day be counted among the greats of the genre. Classic metalheads GO GET THIS ALBUM. 'Nuff said!

- Genghis is crossing his fingers and toes that this band tours through Houston *soon*...


Scale The Summit - V

It's another great album (and bitchin' cover to boot) from Houston's own Scale The Summit!It's funny how hometown-boys Scale The Summit's release schedule seems as precise as their compositions, releasing new material with impressive consistency. And the latest from release from this league of extraordinary djentlemen (oooh it hurts, don't it?) is every bit as satisfying in that shreddy but melodic instrumental goodness I crave.

Getting used to a new drummer (the impressive J.C. Bryant, who takes over for erstwhile original member Pat Skeffington) doesn't seem to have been any kind of issue for the lads as everything sounds fantastic - perhaps due in part to returning mixer and collaborator Jamie King's (Between The Buried And Me, The Contortionist) expert ministrations. Guitarists Chris Letchford and Travis Levrier continue to grow their talents, each producing thrilling counterpoint to the other rather than the simpler harmonized runs of most twin guitar-fronted acts. And let's not forget bassist Mark Mitchell, whose sinewy bass lines provide the musculature the melodies hang on. Now don't think it's all chunka-chunka here as the mellower moments can be quietly beautiful. These textural contrasts - on tracks like Soria Moria's tapping exchanges that give way to moments of intensity seeming more like the result of gravity than sheer force - are the band's stock and trade. The dynamics at play are truly impressive, as exemplified on Trapped In Ice, going from furious riffing to ethereal, delayed chordings on the outro. By the way, Stolas' unmistakeable Shawn Lane vibe (God, how amazing would it have been for Shawn to do guest work on this track? RIP, bro.) gave me a chill, reminding me that this is one of my all time favorite subgenres.

The Bottom Line: Fans of bands like Animals As Leaders or even Cynic should be all over this. This is instrumental progmetal or djent are sure to enjoy another album from Scale The Summit, but newcomers looking for melodic, textural, instrumental jams would do well to spin this disc.

Tracks To Make You Not Even Want To Look At Your Guitar For A While: Soria Moria, Stolas, and Kestral

- Genghis would give his left nut to play in a band like this...


Casablanca - Miskatonic Graffiti

Ignore the fact that these guys look a bit on the odd side (that helmet tho), Casablanca makes great music.It's tempting to peg any new concept album from a European band as progressive music. But Casablanca's album Miskatonic Graffiti is less about self-involved noodling and more about glam rock in the grand old Bowie tradition. And to have it juxtaposed with the thematic content of H. P. Lovecraft is only one of the unusual aspects of this fantastic album/band.

So, yeah, there's a definite 70s vibe happening here, but that's not to say it's all trebly Gibsons and Leslie cabs. The production gives everything a nice big space to play around in, making the spooky lyrics more ethereal and effective. Tracks like the 10 and a half minute opener, Enter The Mountains, make for an appealing opening act to this three stage saga which kicks into the Alice Cooper-esque groove of Closer. I really like it when a band goes a different path when it comes to this sort of source material. What I really like is that every song, while part of a larger work, stands on its own as a testament to the talent of this band. I'm totally digging this album.

The Bottom Line: It would perhaps be more natural for a death or doom metal band to do Lovecraft with a heavy-handed approach, but Casablanca fucking rocks this shit, with solo sections that sound like full-throttle classic Boston or Kansas. And that contrast accents the underlying dread of the dark lyrical themes at work, like shambling horrors waiting in the shadows of a bucolic scene. Great stuff.

- Genghis wants to finish playing Dark Corners Of The Earth now...