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Album of the Month - April
  • Horizons
    Horizons
    by Anubis Gate
Video of the Month - April
  • Led Zeppelin - Good Times, Bad Times
    Led Zeppelin - Good Times, Bad Times
    starring Led Zeppelin
Good Reading
  • The Art of Metal: Five Decades of Heavy Metal Album Covers, Posters, T-Shirts, and More
    The Art of Metal: Five Decades of Heavy Metal Album Covers, Posters, T-Shirts, and More
    Voyageur Press
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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
Thursday
Apr242014

Prong - Ruining Lives

Hey, the lads are back. And I think their motto should be "Keep Calm and Punch Hipsters". Just spitballin' here...It's been a couple of years since venerable hardcore band Prong released their last album, Carved Into Stone. And singer/guitarist/founder Tommy Victor claims that their latest, Ruining Lives, "is the fastest written and recorded PRONG-album ever and it has more great songs than any previous PRONG-record". Bold words, but when it comes to all things Prong, but he is the authority.

And in the 12 years since the band reformed after a few years of hiatus, Victor and company have seen the evolution of the band's core sound without sounding like they're boondoggling while their longtime fans lament the erosion of a once great sound. This band is a great example of how to grow as artists without losing what makes you so great in the first place.

On Ruining Lives, the band takes their classic New York hardcore style of music and upgrades it with a little of the time signature bending rhythmic elements of progressive and technical metal, as on Come To Realize. And Tommy's signature vocal delivery has a great earnestness that belies the band's no-bullshit approach to heavy music. Look, metalheads, the simple fact is that you just can't go wrong with Prong! Amirite?

The Bottom Line: Prong is back with a slightly different, updated sound, but thankfully have lost none of their potency. If you need a soundtrack to your weekend's cathartic release of all that aggression built up over the preceding five workdays, this is your jam.

Tracks To Punch Hipsters To: The Book Of Change, Self Will Run Riot, Come To Realize, and Limitations and Validations

- Genghis needs to get some more black concert shirts for the weekend...

Wednesday
Apr232014

Winger - Better Days Comin'

Hard to believe that after being around nearly 30 years this is only Winger's sixth studio album.The more time passes, the more I relish getting new material from Kip Winger. Say what you want about his ex-Chippendale's dancer posturing days on MTV, but Kip and company is one of the few hair metal acts that can still put out good product, unlike some of their contemporaries (Dokken, I'm looking at you). And though that output has been sparse - their latest, Better Days Comin', being only their sixth studio release since 1988 - I'd stack the quality level of the music up against any other band's career.

Now, to be sure, I wouldn't claim that Winger's strength is innovation. You won't find some de rigueur progressive gymnastics or melodic death chug on this album (though Tin Soldier is satisfyingly unpredictable). This band's true talent lies in making great listenable songs and making it look effortless, as if they have this bag of great tunes from which to pull at any given moment. Even when they throw something in that's less energetic, possibly threatening to ruin the momentum, you still get a groovy track like Ever Wonder and it's all good. This I think is a testament to the group's dynamics and working relationships. Kip is usually the principal songwriter, and the synergy of him and Reb set the tone for the rest of the band. These cats just make great music when they get together. 

The Bottom Line: If you haven't listened to Winger in a while, or are curious about them ("Hey, is this that one band with the hairy, shirtless guy from back in the day?"), this album is a great way to check them out. They're still a great group of musicians that don't take themselves anywhere near as seriously as bands with half their talent. 'Nuff said.

Tracks To Do The Whole Rock Out In Your Underwear In Your Bedroom To: Midnight Driver Of A Love MachineQueen Babylon, Better Days Comin', Tin Soldier, So Long China, Storm In Me, and Out Of This World (with Reb Beach's patented mega outro solo)

- Genghis is practicing his one-handed bass playing while pointing technique...

Wednesday
Apr162014

Words Of Farewell - The Black Wild Yonder

Don't ask me why, but I've always loved album covers with pictures of beautiful women looking distressed with their eyes closed. Seriously.You may recall my enthusiasm for Words Of Farewell's debut full length album, Immersion, and the heralding of the burgeoning subgenre of progressive melodic death metal. Well, after nearly two years of making us wait the lads from Deutschland are back in fine form with their sophomore release, The Black Wild Yonder.

As previously mentioned with Immersion, WOF have a great foundation in that now legendary In Flames melodeath sound while keeping things more accessible with catchy melodies and a driving energy that never wanes. Factor in the amazing musicianship from vocalist Alexander Otto's iron throat to lead guitarist Erik Gaßmus' blazing but restrained fretwork and you're looking at a hell of a band; one that was good enough to be picked to open on tour for the likes of Dark Tranquility and Scar Symmetry.

Now while this latest album is as good as the previous one without a doubt, I do feel like the mix was a bit lacking on this one. I had a hard time hearing the guitars as distinctly as I would've liked, especially since blazing solos are one of the genre's hallmarks. But, truth be told, that's all I can find fault with on this otherwise fantastic disc. Ausgezeichnet, ihr alle!

The Bottom Line: Once again Words Of Farewell prove that not only is the subgenre started by bands like In Flames still viable, but it can even be improved a bit. Outstanding work!

Tracks To Make You Wish You Lived In Europe So You Could See Bands Like This All The Fucking Time: All of them

- Genghis would love to see these guys on a bill with Scar Symmetry...

Wednesday
Apr162014

Temperance (Self-titled)

The symphonic metal genre gets a really nice kick in the rear with some melodeath elements, courtesy of Temperance.So sure there's nothing new about a female-fronted band, even a heavy one. But often times the sticky wicket is that the overall sound suffers for lack of the aggressive edge that metal fans expect, relegating otherwise talented singers to mere novelty and eye candy.

Europe's latest rockers, Temperance, have just hit the scene with their self-titled debut album mixed and mastered by none other than guitar wizard Simone Mularoni (DGM). Right off the bat you can appreciate the band's committment to a heavy sound despite the symphonic metal trappings one might expect. Sure, they're there, but I've rarely heard this level of power - from the satisfying rhythmic punch to the addition of death metal growls - in bands like Nightwish or Lacuna Coil. Less gothic adornment, more balls and chunk™. Capische?

The Bottom Line: In this incredible modern age of metal it takes a lot to stand out from the crowd, but Temperance has a formula that works pretty well, taking symphonic metal and kicking it up a few notches with some heavy almost progressive elements. Nice debut, guys (and gal).

- Genghis can't get enough of Simone's shredding on YouTube...

Wednesday
Apr162014

Astra - Broken Balance

Holy shit, this may be album of the year right here, folks. Italy does it again with some amazing progmetal goodness.I couldn't be more clear on my love of progressive metal as a distinct and vital subgenre of heavy metal. And one of the reasons is that, when done well, it provides such excitement in its seemingly endless rhythmic permutations. It's the flip side of something like Bachman Turner Overdrive's Taking Care Of Business "with that incredibly simplistic drumbeat that even basic amoeba can keep time to." [Thank you, Dennis Miller]

Case in point, just when you think you've heard it all along comes a band like Italy's Astra. Centered around keyboard virtuoso Emanuele Casali (DGM, of course), the band got their start as a Dream Theater tribute band. And it shows in their ability to craft mature, complex - but, more importantly, listenable - progmetal tunes that both impress and entertain. There's no shortage of amazing musicianship here with blistering melodic solos from Casali, who is also listed in the credits as playing guitar, along with Silvio D'onorio De Meo. For all I know Silvio is just playing rhythym - in which case Casali is a fucking monster in the vein of the venerable double-duty Tony MacAlpine.

In any case, progmetal fans will no doubt be impressed with the music on Astra's third studio album, Broken Balance, replete with intense riffage and topped with smooth, harmonized vocals that wrap everything up into a complete package of some of the best music I've heard in a while. You'll find elements of Queensrÿche, Symphony X and Dream Theater with a nice touch of dirt à la Haji's Kitchen.

The Bottom Line: Astra is making some great progressive metal that pays homage to the best of the subgenre while offering their own unique sound. This is easily a contender for album of the year. Keep it up, guys!

Tracks To Make You Want To Start An Air Guitar Band: Hole In The Silence, Sunrise To Sunset, Broken Balance, Faithless, Break Me Down, and You Make Me Better

- Genghis really needed this album right about now...