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That time Genghis said...
Album of the Month - October
  • z²
    by Devin Townsend Project
Video of the Month - October
  • Ozzy Osbourne: Memoirs Of A Madman
    Ozzy Osbourne: Memoirs Of A Madman
    starring Ozzy Osbourne
Good Reading
  • Bringing Metal to the Children: The Complete Berzerker's Guide to World Tour Domination
    Bringing Metal to the Children: The Complete Berzerker's Guide to World Tour Domination
    by Zakk Wylde, Eric Hendrikx
Feedback

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
Thursday
Oct162014

Project Arcadia - A Time Of Changes

Can't say I know of any Bulgarian metal bands, but Project Arcadia can rock like nobody's business, I tell you what.I can't honestly say if I've ever heard of any metal bands coming out of Bulgaria. But if Project Arcadia's new album A Time Of Changes is any indication of the kind of music they're making over in Eastern Europe these days, it might be time to book a flight.

This is just classic metal circa 1989 - and that's not a backhanded compliment by any means. Right away, with the album's opener, Here To Learn, you get a rush of nostalgia as the razor sharp distortion cuts through the atmoshperic spoken word greeting and it doesn't let up for the album's 46 minute running time. The band's musicians comprise a tight, talented crew of rockers, all of them Bulgarian save for their new Swedish vocalist, Urban Breed (Tad Morose), whose clean, powerful voice makes him a perfect fit here. Even on the slower songs like I Am Alive or The Ungrateful Child, the music is polished and pure, bearing repeated listens. Old school shredheads be sure to check out the solo for Shadows Of The Night (3:16), which is simply a study in classic metal wailing, melodic and tasteful.

The Bottom Line: For a dose of old school metal with a nice touch of modern, progressive-tinted orchestration, Project Arcadia has the goods in spades. I can't praise this band enough. Check them out!

- Genghis did in fact indulge in many epic air guitar sessions during this review...

Thursday
Oct092014

Allen/Lande - The Great Divide

Another eagerly awaited collab between two metal gods comes up a bit short compared to previous releases.I love it when I see a new Allen/Lande collaboration. Ever since the two vocal powerhouses of Russell Allen (Symphony X) and Jørn Lande (Masterplan) began singing over songs performed, composed and arranged by Primal Fear guitarist, Magnus Karlsson, the music has been great with the vocals taking already good metal to the next level. Since their 2005 debut (The Battle), we've had two other albums leading up to the their new, fourth studio release - and the first one without Karlsson as songwriter: The Great Divide.

Replacing Magnus is none other than Timo Tolkki (Stratovarius), though Lande did contribute to the songwriting as well. But the meat of these albums is the expert pairing of two of metal's greatest vocalists today. And were it not for their level of expertise, it could easily turn into a singer's pissing contest where two bad-asses try to outdo each other with no regard for the music. This is why these albums work so well, letting the music breathe underneath while the two metal gods go at it.

Sorry to say, however, I really miss Magnus Karlsson's writing. His subtly progressive brand of melodic metal just worked better with these vocalists. Timo's no slouch of course, but perhaps being away from Stratovarius for so long, indulging his other musical tastes has left him a bit rusty when it comes to ensemble writing. The music is energetic, there's good guitar playing, the vocals are solid, but in the end, it just doesn't come together like previous albums. Interestingly, the slower songs seem better, which is in almost complete contrast to Karlsson's stuff, where the slower stuff got a little boring. This isn't to say The Great Divide is a bad album by any means - there's just so much raw talent involved here, how could that be true? But when compared to previous works from this outfit, there just seems to be something missing. I'm willing to wait a bit longer to see if the next album's material solidifies for me a bit more.

The Bottom Line: The Allen/Lande collaborations have been going strong for four albums now, but with a change in the songwriting department has come a different feel to the whole thing that's a little less...intriguing. Hopefully, this is just an initial impression that will change with repeated listens. Sorry, Tolkki.

- Genghis really wanted to get into this album...

Friday
Oct032014

The Order Of Israfel - Wisdom

Doom metal may not be the newest and freshest sound on the planet, but this is some damn fine metal gettin' debuted here.Primarily the work of guitarist Tom Sutton (Church Of Misery) and bassist Patrik Andersson Winberg (Doomdogs), Gothenburg-based The Order Of Israfel (TOOI) is a pretty straightforward doom metal band with folk music accents and a progressive touch. This keeps things interesting, and not sounding like the self-important or preachy stuff that tends to ruin much of the retro offerings out there. Otherwise, Wisdom - the band's debut album - takes a page from the classic doom metal playbook.

[Black] Sabbathy tunes that have all of the customary weight of the ominous abound, as in the epic plodding of The Noctuus. But the particular aforementioned mix of styles gives the more introspective parts of songs a nice Opeth feel, as on the [Ennio] Morricone-flavored The Earth Will Deliver What Heaven Desires. But to show it's not all rubbery necks and closed-eyes, TOOI shows its more peppy side with tracks like Born For War or Morning Sun (Satanas) which call to mind the groovy chug of Black Label Society, or The Black Wings A Demon, which comes off like a thrilling version of The Doors meets Motörhead.

The Bottom Line: Don't let my mention of the word retro (which is becoming pretty stale these days) scare you off of this Swedish doom metal band's impressive debut. This is some damn fine metal. I dare say Zakk would approve.

- Genghis never did understand what the all the fuss was about The Doors...

Sunday
Sep282014

Podcast #178: Faith

The G-Man can rock the shit out of a house, no lie.Does religion belong in music? Some say yes, some say no, while others just don't give a shit [ed. - I'm in the latter group of people; if it sounds good, then that's all that matters]. Join Genghis & Ragman as they delve into Christian metal, musing that some of these bands rock so hard, it's hard to believe they're belting out the gospel. The boys also discuss the demise of the record store. Next, the boys are joined by the one and only Mr. Tracy G, for a heart to heart, as he discusses the release of the latest Dio DVD and what the G-Man is up to these days...

DVD of the Show: Demon Hunter - 45 Days

Beer of the Show: Bear Hug Chocolate Cherry Stout (Bridgeport Brewery)
 
Appearance: 3.5
Aroma: 3.5
Palate: 3.0
Taste: 2.5
Overall: 3.0
"A low ABV (7.5%) stout with a strong roasty aroma, this brew could've used a little more flavor for our tastes."
 

Featured Tracks: Emil Bulls - Behind the Sun; Flyleaf - Magnetic; Impelliteri - Ball and Chain; Demon Hunter - The Last One Alive; Helstar - Cursed; Ploar - Shadowed by Vultures; Kyng - Electric Halo; Night Ranger - High Road; Arch Enemy - War Eternal; Dio - Jesus, May and the Holy Ghost; Tracy G - Red House, Pain Savior, and Last Words

Ragman's Classic of the Show: Lizzy Borden - Notorious

Genghis' Classic of the Show: Damn the Machine - Lonesome God

Ragman's Pick of the Show: Avatar - Bloody Angel

Genghis' Pick of the Show: Corrosion of Conformity - Brand New Sleep

- Ragman is running on empty...

Podcast#: 178 - Faith

Thursday
Sep252014

Mr. Big - ...The Stories We Could Tell

The boys are back to rock the house with their signature mix of hard rock and AOR ballads.

When What If... came out in 2011, it heralded the much anticipated comeback of Mr. Big with some of their most mature and thoughtful songs to date, but without losing the energetic appeal of the band's most popular material. Songs like Undertow and As Far As I Can See showed a more focused and relaxed group compared to the quartet's last work together, 1995's  Hey Man. Well, that trend largely continues with ...The Stories We Could Tell. The name alone suggests a resolution to the sentence begun previously, as if the full statement were "What if they made a big Hollywood production of the story of Mr. Big? Oh, the stories we could tell."

The lyrics have become more introspective and philosophical over the years, and the playing has become more mature and refined. Back in the day, Paul Gilbert was barely 23, fresh out of Racer X and hungry to prove to the world his guitar mastery in a more radio-friendly but hard rocking ensemble. Today, he's a recording and touring veteran with scores of fans spanning the globe. Having nothing left to prove, his playing is restrained and confident (while still technically amazing), and perfect for the current version of the band he helped found a quarter of a century ago.

But, let's get to ...The Stories We Could Tell. For the most part, this is much like an extension of What If..., having the same "it's good to be back" easiness to it all. The heavier songs sound like they could be future bar band classics while the slower ones demonstrate the template for modern AOR ballads - right down to the string section backing the chimey acoustic strumming of The Man Who Has Everything. It's so "perfect" that it might be called formulaic if it were made by a younger, modern band, but here it's the simply the reflexive output of masters of their trade. If I'm forced to find any fault with the album, I would say that I wanted to hear a lot more from Billy [Sheehan], whose legendary fills and runs seemed more subdued this time. And Eric Martin, who's one of the best rock vocalists around, seems to be getting lower in the register these days, but his constant, infectious energy seems ageless. There's a reason these guys are a no-brainer for a go-to live band.

The Bottom Line: Fans of Mr. Big will surely enjoy another dose of these hard rock veterans, whereas new fans may likely come across this in their parents' music collection and find this to be a master class in rock music songwriting. Either way, this is the epitome of good rock music. If you're looking for the "next big thing", look elsewhere. Why worry about old dogs coming up with new tricks when they've already mastered (and can still do) all the best ones?

- Genghis is still addicted to that rush 25 years later...