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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
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
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...

Friday
Jul252014

Trioscapes - Digital Dream Sequence

It's just a crying shame that bands like Trioscapes isn't all over the damn place - especially playing sweet clubs in my hometown...When jazz metal neo-fusion group Trioscapes put out their debut album Separate Realities two years ago, I was instantly hooked. I've always been a fan of the incredible showmanship that master jazz musicians display onstage together, always challenging each other without it ever seeming to be a pissing contest. It's synergy of the best kind.

And luckily, they've decided to make another album of hardcore jazz beauty.  Case in point, the 3:55 mark of the title track is where some of the best jamming comes into play, carrying the player on a sonic flying carpet through a world of ethereal freeform grooviness I can't even (adequately) describe; you're just either into it or you're not, that's all I can tell you. Don't worry, it's not all breakneck riffs and runs. Tracks like From The Earth To The Moon has a sweet Chick Corea thing going on that breaks into a fuzzy bass stomp then into a haunting flute melody. There's some truly impressive dynamics going on with these cats, and I just can't get enough of it, and fans of old school fusion's audaciousness and musical innovation will surely pick up on this as the new generation of that great form.

The Bottom Line: More jazz than metal, Trioscapes is a power trio of the highest musical order. This is some of the best neo-fusion available today, period.

- Genghis so wishes he could play in a band like this...

Friday
Jul252014

Death Penalty - Sign Of Times (EP)

I'm diggin' this female-fronted doom metal band from the UK. Keep an ear open for the full length later this year.What happens when British doom metal legends Cathedral finally call it quits? Well, if you're riffmaster Garry "Gaz" Jennings, you hook up with a Belgian singer like Michelle Nocon and start working on a new album stat. And while it's too soon for that album to be out just yet, the band Death Penalty has shrewdly released a 7" with their forthcoming first single "Sign Of The Times".

Now, so far, Michelle isn't necessarily belting it out Ann Wilson style right from the get-go. But there's clearly some talent there, and her smooth vocals layer over Gaz' fantastically epic grooves in a very appealing mix of old school metal without sounding like just another retread. In a world where retro is the norm, this is some truly great sounding music on its own. And I mean that; there's some really sweet guitar playing in these two tracks that could easily stand up to anything out there today. Not too shabby, Gaz.

The Bottom Line: If Sign Of Times is any indication, when Death Penalty releases their debut full length album later this year, you're gonna hear some serious shit. And you can take that to the bank. The money bank.

Genghis is intrigued by Michelle's Belgian (read: beer, I want beer) heritage...