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That time Genghis said...
Album of the Month - March
  • Pictures
    Pictures
    by Cyrax
Video of the Month - March
  • Heavy Metal Parking Lot
    Heavy Metal Parking Lot
    starring n/a
Great Metal Reading
  • Power Chord: One Man's Ear-Splitting Quest to Find His Guitar Heroes
    Power Chord: One Man's Ear-Splitting Quest to Find His Guitar Heroes
    by Thomas Scott McKenzie
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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
Wednesday
Mar042015

Battleaxe - Power From The Universe

If you never heard of Battleaxe, this is your chance to hear some bonafide old school NWOBHM, my friend.There are few metal genres more lauded than the fabled New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Sadly, amongst the Iron Maidens and Motörheads, you have bands no less crucial to the movement that tend to get forgotten in the tide of time. Thankfully, notable NWOBHM band Battleaxe's sophomore release Power From The Universe is enjoying a 30th anniversary re-release.

Everything you'd expect from an English band of the late 70s and early 80s is here in spades: Gruff, working man vocals, blues-tinged licks, stories of bravado and celebration and - most importantly - chugging grooves over seismic drums abound. I'm happy to say this music holds up pretty well for the most part. After 30 years of all sorts of metal evolution it's natural to be waiting for some real distortion to kick things into high gear, but to be fair, it's bands like the former that paved the way for the latter.

The Bottom Line: If you missed the train the first time it left the station, Battleaxe is worthy of attention if only for its place in NWOBHM history. You can easily hear elements of later bands like Quiet Riot or Mötley Crüe in their rhythmic explorations. Good stuff.

Tracks To Rock Out To While Trimming Your Handlebar Moustache: Metal Rock and Radio Thunder

- Genghis thinks he maybe needs a leather vest...

Wednesday
Mar042015

Cyrax - Pictures

Tell you what: if you're looking for the new home of original metal, it's gotta be Italy. What can I say?With bands like Destrage out there, it's hard to ignore the fact that there are bands eschew the trappings of musical categorization and just write what appeals to them as musicians - even if it may make it hard for people in the industry to explain them. This brings us to Cyrax. Like fellow Italian (seriously, where are all of these bands coming from?!) rockers Destrage, the boys in Cyrax like to let their musical ideas run wherever the fuck they want, but the results are undeniably compelling.

Their sophomore effort Pictures amply demonstrates this strange blend of classical, progressive, and heavy metal music with a fascinating mélange that never goes completely off the rails even if it damn well goes up on two wheels quite a bit in the turns. But for all of this seemingly barely managed chaos, listeners can easily make out individual influences should they pay attention. The 7th Seal is a good example, with Queen-like multi-layered choral moments accenting the rhythmic bombast of Symphony X or Dream Theater. The rest of the album has wonderful sense of dynamics, interspersing contemplative piano phrasing amongst the satisfying chug of guitar. And the three-part Shine Through Darkness piece should convince you of Cyrax's eclectic genius over its nearly 15 minute length as it juxtaposes the sounds of harpsichords and Hammond organs over a nice layer of balls and chunk. If I had to find one niggling factor in all of this, it's got to be the tendency of the quasi-operatic vocal stylings to get out of hand, almost sounding like someone's idea of a joke. Johnny Carson would likely have called it "weird, wild stuff", but I must say I really like it. 

The Bottom Line: Cyrax create an intriguing mix of progressive metal, classical music, and plain old heavy metal in typical Italian fearless fashion. The vocals can get a little overblown, but all in all this is some impressive sophomore release.

- Genghis is really tripping on all of this amazing Italian metal...

Thursday
Feb122015

De La Muerte (self-titled)

Italian metal posse De La Muerte has a little South of the border style, and the album cover looks boss.Italy continues to pump out serious metal. It's as if the whole country discovered the genre all over again, cuz they're puttin' out the tunes like nobody's freakin' business. Case in point, the band De La Muerte, who puts a nice southern rock twist on their heavy Adrenaline Mob-style modern sound. This is kind of what I imagine Dangerous Toys might sound like if they made a big comeback.

Inspired by Mexico's widely popular Nuestra Señora de la Santa Muerte cult, this self-titled debut album is packed with tunes loosely threaded together by their spooky narratives. This is another one of the up and coming bands shepherded by the prolific Simone Mularoni (DGM) who recorded, mixed, produced, and mastered this album. Dude, does this guy have Red Bull in his veins or what? Now if there's any complaint at all, the vocals get a little strange sometimes in that they almost sound like the singer is trying to be funny by overdoing it, which I doubt. But this isn't something that happens all the time, and the guitar work is fantastic. So, there you go.

The Bottom Line: This is good old hard rock in the vein of bands like Guns N' Roses, Adrenaline Mob, or Dangerous Toys. If you like a little Southern rock in your metal, this may scratch what itches you.

Tracks To Try Out New Tequilas With: Desaparecido, Secret Witness, and Malaguena Salerosa

- Genghis digs that José Guadalupe Posada style artwork...

Wednesday
Feb112015

Level 10 - Chapter 1

Don't know for sure, but I'd swear this album cover illustration was drawn by Greg Capullo. Either way, this album rocks. Hard.Hot damn, I love how Russell Allen (Symphony X, Adrenaline Mob) has become so ubiquitous in the metal world in the last several years. Having learned about him nigh 20 years ago for his stellar work with Symphony X, I've always been impressed with his vocals, able to go from clean to gritty in a heartbeat. And now he's joined up with bassist Mat Sinner (Primal Fear) for yet another heavy metal extravaganza in the form of the Level 10 project.

Being that Mat is joined by fellow bandmates Randy Black (drums) and Alex Beyrodt (guitar), Roland Grapow (ex-Helloween) and Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline, Voodoo Circle) on lead guitar and keyboards respectively, you've got some serious hard rocking locked and loaded. And a nice taste of classic European power metal is just what you get - with a good sense of melody to boot. This is the stuff.

While the majority of the material is expectedly fast-paced, there are some slower songs like Soul Of A Warrior, Voice Of The Wilderness, All Hope Is Gone where some of the best solos take place. For comparison, I'd say it's got a solid heavy feel with elements of late 80s/early 90s metal (think Whitesnake's self-titled masterpiece) that give it a steely edge and a nice neoclassical flourish, courtesy of Del Vecchio's accompaniment. Kudos to everyone on this thing.

The Bottom Line: This is classic power metal by some of the best in the biz. If you dig the idea of a neoclassical version of Whitesnake's classic 1987 album, this is your jam, tough guy.

- Genghis is waitin' for the night to c-c-c-cooooome *slide*....

Wednesday
Feb112015

Chiefs - Tomorrow's Over

Looking for melodic doom metal? Chiefs are something like that, so smoke 'em if ya got 'em...Things really took off for Arizona duo Chiefs when they relocated to San Diego and added a bass player to their ranks to fill out the low-end of their stoner rock sound. And their debut album, Tomorrow's Over, is all the better for this change.

Coming off a bit like a cross between the restless energy of old Soundgarden and the rumbling groove of Dopesmoker, I really dig the melodicism here that sets them apart from most stoner/doom metal outfits. Vocalist/Guitarist Paul Valle sounds a lot like Chris Volz of Five.Bolt.Main, which is to say he's got an earnest wail that smoothly rides atop the bottom-heavy groove this band is laying down. That's it. We're talking meat and potatoes groove-based heavy tunes here and I dig it mightily.

The Bottom Line: If you've been looking around for that 90s vibe of thick, melodic, Sabbathy grooves, you should check out Chiefs' debut. This fervent trio can rock a joint nicely.

- Genghis is pretty comfortable with denim...