That time Genghis said...
Album of the Month - August
  • Vampiro
    by HELSTAR
Video of the Month - August
  • Live at the NEC
    Live at the NEC
    starring Ian Gillan, Jon Lord, Ian Paice, Roger Glover, Steve Morse
  • Mean Deviation: Four Decades of Progressive Heavy Metal
    Mean Deviation: Four Decades of Progressive Heavy Metal
    by Jeff Wagner

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

Draconian - Sovran

Swedish doom metal masters Draconian do it again - this time with newcomer Heike Langhans's ethereal stylings.I maintain that one of - if not the best ways to hear doom metal is with a female vocalist. In this case, Swedish doom purveyors Draconian, whose melodic death metal sound has gradually become more black and doomy over the years, have released their latest album Sovran with newcomer Heike Langhans. And what a sound she lends to the gothic mood. Her look is even a good match, looking in promo photos like a dark earth mother/goddess with the rest of the crew surrounding her like musical priests. It's something.

Of course, the music has to serve the overall sound and it does that very well. Not all of the tunes on Sovran are doom dirges; tunes like No Lonelier Star and Stellar Tombs start out more like something from the band's melodeath origins before mellowing out to their morose conclusions. But, as it turns out, slower tunes like Pale Tortured Blue compliment Langhans' ethereal voice, who comes off like a dark reflection of Enya through a looking glass world of melancholia - and an effective counterpoint to Anders Jakobsson's gutteral vocals. Since mood accounts for most of the meat in this genre, it's clear Draconian has that covered just fine. the sludge of so much low end is often too muddy to appreciate for the music's nuances, but not so with this band, so kudos to the producers.

The Bottom Line: Gothic doom metal has its place, and few do it better than those crafty Swedes. Draconian's latest album mixes the vocal stylings of two very different singers to great effect with Anders Jakobsson's gutteral menace balanced by Heike Langhans' ethereal beauty. Nice work.

- Genghis really digs the doom metal from time to time...


Emil Bills - XX

German numetallers have shown their poppy side for their "candlelight" version of their greatest cuts.To celebrate their 20th year, German alt-metal band Emil Bulls has re-recorded new, or "candlelight", versions of their most popular songs for their latest release, XX. This is where, if only in the interest of intellectual honesty, I have to say this is some impressive stuff. It's easy to dismiss most a lot of nu metal and the like as angry guitar bashing and screaming about trite topics that everyone agrees are the bane of modern life. But to go back and re-arrange those songs into nuanced poppy anthems if a musical feat.

Tunes like Here Comes The Fire get polished to a mirror finish that would seem totally at home on a pop diva's next release. Sure, there's a bit of a disconnect between the mellow feel of the music and the incindiary lyrics.], but to turn your own work on its head, in a genre that is often maligned for its lack of innovation or depth, belies a certain self-awareness that puts the material a cut above the din. Not too shabby.

The Bottom Line: Fans of nu metal's Emil Bulls may have their minds blown when they hear the band's prime cuts transmogrified into tasty pop morsels - for better or for worse, you be the judge. But the mere fact of pulling it off this well should impress you as a music fan nonethless.

- Genghis was tapping his toes a bit to some of this stuff (is that allowed?)...


Welcome to Your Funeral - The Story of Rigor Mortis (Part 1)

Rigor Mortis was the first as well as one of the only Thrash Metal bands to emerge out of Texas, in the 80's.  If you think about it, there are just a handful of bands, if that, that have able to break out of the lone star state, so if you make it, it is quite an accomplishment.  To be honest, I was never a fan, but thought it would be interesting to see what these guys were about, as well as how they broke out of Texas; that is why I decided to check out their new documentary Welcome to Your Funeral.

Welcome to Your Funeral, takes you all the way back to 1983, to the inception of the band.  There is some really good vintage footage of the band.  I think it is really cool that these guys had the foresight to record a lot of their rehearsals early on.  As you would guess, the documentary spans about 4 years, up until the band is signed in 1987.  The documentary is narrated by Phil Anselmo, who seems to be a huge fan of the band.  The documentary was informative and included some great archival footage, but tended to drag on a bit. 

As you might of guessed, since this is labeled as part 1, there will undoubtedly be a part 2.  I can't believe there is going to be a part 2, because they could have condensed their story to 2 hrs on one disk, in this reviewers opinion.  That said, I would be interested to check it out, to see why the band eventually broke up and got back together.  I just hope they make it a little shorter.

Bottom Line: A good documentary about a fairly unknown band.  It is a good watch, but got a little long in the tooth at times.  I believe this one would have come off better, had they condensed it to about an hour.

-Ragman forgot these dudes were in The Decline of Western Civilization 2.



Dissona - Paleopneumatic

Out of nowhere, Chicago's Dissona comes to challenge your percetion of prog.I can't say I hear the city of Chicago mentioned in the list of progressive metal hotbeds, but clearly they have something to offer the genre in the band Dissona. The intriguing quartet approach the music through the prism of their backgrounds in classical and extreme metal with elements of jazz and other diverse sources.

From the get go, it's clear that this band has a different approach, seeming almost like new age or alternative prog metal if it's not too crazy to say. And that's not a bad thing at all; one of the biggest knocks against prog metal by those who are not fans is that "it all sounds the same, like Images and Words recycled again", so it's refreshing to hear a band in the genre that adds something to the mix. A big part of this sound is the use of guitar textures and ambient sounds as layering. Even the keyboards have an ethereal feel to themselves, as if floating in and out of existence.

Not that there's any lack of the genre's trademark pyrotechnics, as Craig Hamburger and Matt Motto (bass and guitars respectively) can lay a groove down as solid as you please. But the gothic flavor of David Dubenic's vocals lend a melancholia to the album that tempers the usually overwrought nature of proggy excess even as it screams over drummer Drew Goddard's moments of explosive brilliance as on Fire-Bellied. This isn't their first album, and I certainly hope it won't be their last. Especially when they come out with the inevitable progmetal staple, the full-blown concept album. Then again, that would be too predictable, wouldn't it? And Dissona ain't havin' it.

The Bottom Line: Dissona is the rare musical animal that combines several disparate genres into a cohesive whole that loses none what makes each unique while transmogrifying into something new and compelling. It's a juggling act that rarely works so well, and I will be following this interesting band.

- Genghis was tripping balls on this album at some point...


Brainstorm - Scary Creatures

You know, I'm preeeeety sure I don't want to attend this particluar show. Sorry, creepy doll guys.German power metal band Brainstorm hits your ears with their latest album Scary Creatures, and these cats aren't fooling around. Their previous effort Firesoul was understandably well-received, but they really get some traction with the cruncy in milk distortion of their latest offering.

Founded in 1989, Brainstorm has been crafting classic metal for over 25 years, with guitarists Torsten Ihlenfeld and Milan Loncaric laying down some of the nice harmonized leads and nasty rhythyms us metalheads crave. Tracks like We Are... have a great Judas Priest feel to them that must play great live. I can imagine an audience of people chanting "We are, we are!" in unison. Vocalist Andy B. Franck does a nice impression of Halford, deliberately or otherwise, and Antonio Leva and Dieter Bernert setup a solid foundation on which Brainstorm builds its epic sound. All in all, this is classic European power metal and there's little to dislike about it.

The Bottom Line: Brainstorm rolls over you like a frieght train of metal, so be prepared for some killer headbanging and no mistake. 'Nuff said!

- Genghis is rifling through his closet for his studded belt...