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That time Genghis said...
Album of the Month - August
  • Light of Dawn
    Light of Dawn
    by Unisonic
Video of the Month - August
  • Live at Wacken 2013
    Live at Wacken 2013
    starring Motorhead, Alice Cooper, Various Artists
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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Props

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
Tuesday
Aug122014

Unisonic - Light Of Dawn

Even the album cover is classic old school stuff: crazy-assed squadrons of ballooned rocketships? Dafuq?I totally understand that some bands want to distance themselves from the S word. Once people hear supergroup they start listening to the music in a fundamentally different way, as if the finished product needed to be a perfect blending of the music of each of the various bands that each member came from rather than the result of a shared musical vision amongst like-minded musicians. Founded in 2009, Unisonic really took off when pathologically-busy guitarist Kai Hansen joined his fellow ex-Helloween bandmate, singer Michael Kiske, completing a musical formula that has resulted in the band's fantastic sophomore effort, Light Of Dawn.

I can't tell you how good it is to hear some really good, authentic, melodic hard rock these days. In a musical soundscape replete with retro bands, nothing beats the old-school talent of outfits like this. There's killer solos weaving throughout heavy, but not overdone, hard rocking tunes and it all has the well-balanced production of the best music of this genre's heyday. Rags calls this meat and potatoes metal, which is not meant as pejorative at all. It's just straightahead bad-ass music, without gimmicks, cloying self-awareness, or any other such modern trappings that can take the fun out of what us old fogies used to listen to 'til the wee small hours (up all night, sleep all day, right?). This is some great fucking stuff.

The Bottom Line: Hey, new kids. If you wanna rock, good on ya. But you would be wise to do your homework and learn from those before you. It won't ruin your vision if you've really got the goods. And the education will pay back in spades. The textbook was written by guys like Hansen and company, and it's waiting for you. 'Nuff said.

- Genghis will be cranking this shit on his stereo for many nights to come (sorry, neighbors)...

Tuesday
Aug122014

Malpractice - Turning Tides

And to top it all off, this progressive thrash group from Finland made a concept album about modern urban ennui. Nice.Finnish band Malpractice started out as more of a straight up thrash act way back in 1994, but has slowly and steadily incorporated more complexity and melodicism into their moshpit tunes making for one of the more exciting releases this year. Progressive thrash isn't a huge sub-genre, but it's one that ticks all the boxes for me. And like others in the field (e.g. Mekong Delta, Voivoid, et al), the primary emphasis is on crunchy, heavy riffage.

One of the more appealing aspects of Malpractice's sound is its vocal harmonies, courtesy of vocalist Aleksi Parviainen, who reminds me of Lemur Voice's Gregoor van der Loo; really great, melodic, and soulful - if not a bellowing powerhouse. The other defining element to their sound is the great guitarwork of Joonas Koto and Markus Vanhala. They help add to the deft blending of two normally disparate musical ideas; the heavy, high gain chug of thrash rhythyms and the clean, chorused arpeggiated interludes of progressive metal, all overlaid with soaring solos and catchy choruses. It's just magic when it all comes together as well as this. It's like Enchant meets classic Queensrÿche for lack of a better description. Trust me, it's good stuff.

The Bottom Line: This here's some stellar progressive thrash, replete with monster riffs, lush vocal harmonies, melodic hooks, and great, fluid solo work throughout. What the hell else do you need, amirite?

- Genghis was thrilled to find the obligatory instrumental (Symphony Of Urban Discomfort) on here...

Tuesday
Aug122014

Bowl Ethereal (self-titled)

Word of warning: Turn off Crossfade Songs when you listen to this EP or you might miss it entirely.I like to think of my musical tastes as being eclectic. There are more bands out there than can possibly all be listened to, much less appreciated. So, I try to get a taste of every genre to see what I may be missing. This effort occasionally rewards with an interesting band like Bowl Ethereal that comes along every now and then that stands above the crowd a bit. While their music seems chaotic, it's actually more like a very precise, concentrated, tonal mood session.

Hailing from Virginia, duo Brian Metz (guitar/bass) and Pen Rollings (drums) have released a 7" that contains 6 songs, each the exact same abbreviated length (1:01). What results isn't as gimmicky as it sounds. Instead, it's like a portfolio of work that takes the best parts of songs and makes them whole songs in themselves. It's concentrated riffing that comes by design, as Pen and Brian decided they wanted to have songs that sounded like intros to bigger longer songs and just stopped. From this economy of songwriting, comes the half dozen tracks on their eponymous debut EP.

Whether this kind of approach will gain any traction for the band may as yet to be determined, but there's no question that there's some great sounds on this disc. Heavy, razor sharp riffs, raucous drum beating and no small amount of moxie in the context of math metal, where songs can often go on long tangents. One thing's for sure, their live shows could be seen during a coffee break. BONUS!

The Bottom Line: After years of self-imposed exile, influential musician Pen Rollings is back with a new band and some pretty damn fine - if pretty damn brief - tunes. Here's hoping this introspective, metallic stew is a long-lasting recipe.

- Genghis was just getting into this album when it ended (doh!)...

Monday
Aug112014

Podcast #176: Roadie

"Say, could you play a little guitar for us, Sam?"Roadies are clearly unsung heroes of rock 'n' roll. Without these guys there would be none of the big productions we see at our favorite concerts. Join Genghis & Ragman as they discuss the importance of the road crew and how they can make or break a performance. Next, the boys rounded up guitar slinger Sam Totman from Dragonforce, for a heart to heart who discussed the band's latest release, Maximum Overload, and the lads' future tour plans.

DVD of the Show: Anathema - Universal

Beer of the Show: Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout (Stone Brewery Collaboration Ale)
 
Appearance: 3.5
Aroma: 3.5
Palate: 3.5
Taste: 3.5
Overall: 3.5
"This [13% ABV] collaboration ale risked collapsing under the weight of its complex origins, but fares quite well indeed. Bravo!"
 

2nd Beer of the Show: Andechser Doppelbock (Klosterbrauerei Andechs)

Featured Tracks: Saints of Rebellion - Better Days; Anathema - Dusk; Steelshine - Paparazzi; The Chant - Spectral Light; Motörhead - Death Machine; Blue Oyster Cult - Burnin' for Youand Harvest Moon; Iron Maiden - Wrathchild; Dragonforce - Through the Fire and the Flames, The Sun is Dead, No More, Ring of Fireand Cry Thunder

Ragman's Classic of the Show: Soilwork - Figure #5

Genghis' Pick of the Show: Annihilator - Alison Hell

Ragman's Pick of the Show: Zodiac - Moonshine

Genghis Pick of the Show: Outline in Color - Beautiful Secrets

- Ragman usually says something pithy here...

Podcast #176: Roadie

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...