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That time Genghis said...
Album of the Month - July
  • White Devil Armory
    White Devil Armory
    by Overkill
Video of the Month - July
  • Last Tangle In Paris - Live 2012 DeFiBrilLaTouR - Live 2012 Defibrila Tour (Blu-Ray+2xCD)
    Last Tangle In Paris - Live 2012 DeFiBrilLaTouR - Live 2012 Defibrila Tour (Blu-Ray+2xCD)
    starring Ministry
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
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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
Friday
May302014

Battleaxe - Heavy Metal Sanctuary

Can you really mention battleaxes and NOT have a bearded guy in a horned helmet nearby?Oh man, I love it when a band comes along like they stepped out of a time portal from the 80s. And in the case of Battleaxe (formed in 1979), they basically did just that. Having put out their last full studio album 30 years ago they certainly have the pedigree of an English heavy metal band from the greatest decade of heavy metal ever.

Right off the bat - vocalist Dave King, sounding like a cross between Udo Dirkschneider, Rob Halford and Brian Johnson - sets the tone with the title track, Heavy Metal Sanctuary. From there, the tunes come at you rapid-fire, awash in the familiar lyrical content of the military industrial complex and rebellion. It's not gonna break any molds or break new ground, but some stuff should be left for thems that wants it. Battleaxe is just here to crank some metal. This is what Rags often refers to as meat-and-potatoes metal, and it's nothing to sneeze at.

This is the kind of stuff modern metal was built on, and these lads are champions of an era not forgotten. Now, there's the occasional tune, like Hail To The King, whose opening riff sounds very familiar (Dio's Stand Up And Shout comes to mind), but I think it's really more of a case of music sort of coming full circle than any kind of rip-off. Either way, there's a conviction here amongst the riffage that can't be denied, and it's great to see bands from bygone days still putting out good material. This is just the kind of band where people generally split into one of two camps: those that think this is all just treading the same water, and those that fondly remember a legendarty era in metal. Which one do you fall in?

The Bottom Line: This band is flying the flag of classic 80s-era metal, something they know a lot about, and fans of that sound should find much to like in this no-frills approach. Check out Battleaxe and know why Britain will always be known as the birthplace of metal!

- Genghis needs a nice left-handed Gibson SG and a Marshall stack...

Thursday
May222014

Xandria - Sacrificium

Xandria's latest cover seems to say "Somebody run an' tell Mordechai there's another one o' them dadburn firebirds in the cathedral again!"There are times when I just can't listen to symphonic metal, and then there are times where I can't seem to get enough of it. Where that line divides the two sentiments I have no idea. But it must lie somewhere in how the symphonic elements blend with the metal aspect of the music. You can't just come into the metal studio with your keyboard loaded up with a "maximum strings" patch. Authenticity plays a huge part in how the music will be received; either it will sound majestic or cheesy, and the difference is all too critical to success.

Luckily there's no problem with Xandria's arrangements. Taking a cue from other successful genre bands like Nightwish, the proven formula of female lead vocalist, epic keyboards, and (best of all) some very tasty, dirty guitar for just the right amount of heaviness as if to say "hey, don't forget we're a metal band!"

With their sixth studio album Sacrificium, and the recent addition of vocalist Dianne van Giersbergen, Xandria is clearly bucking for the lead position in the symphonic metal genre. From the pretty epic opening title track, clocking in at a little over ten minutes, the band sets the tone. They're here to rock and they're not screwing around, that much is clear. And even when things mellow out for a moment, the stillness is threatened with a contained fury. You always have the feeling that big heavy riffs are being held in check like wargs in Saruman's pit, waiting to be let loose and lay waste to everything in sight. That's where Xandria really excels. The epicness can only be held back for so long, and when it gets released, it's...well, epic. Genre fans should definitely pick this up if they haven't already.

The Bottom Line: German symphonic metallers Xandria are poised to take on the current king of the hill, Nightwish, with furious guitars and majestic keyboards all held together by the confident, powerful soprano of Dianne van Giersbergen. Go get 'em.

Tracks To Make You Consider Getting A Velvet Waistcoat: Sacrificium, The Undiscovered Land and Little Red Relish

- Genghis can not do justice to vests...

Thursday
May222014

Arkona - Yav

"Hey, Genghis, where the hell can I find me some good Russian pagan/folk metal", you say? Hmmm....I have said it many times, metal's got something for just about everyone. And if you happen to be into, say Russian pagan/folk metal with a slightly progressive aspect to it, Arkona's your jam. Their latest album, Yav, comes after a three year absence, but these guys, while they may take a little getting used to, are actually pretty good. Most of, if not all, the folk melodies are played on authentic medieval instruments giving the album an otherworldly sound, a melding of the old and new.

Lead vocalist Masha "Scream" Arkhipova leads the lads of Arkona with an at times Enya-like etheral quality, while other times she slips right into guttural fury though it can get lost in the mix. But it's when the band goes on extended musical interludes (songs average about seven and a half minutes) that things can get more interesting, with progressive-inspired jams that get satisfyingly heavy.

The Bottom Line: If you're looking for some pagan/folk metal (we know you're out there) and aren't too concerned about knowing all the lyrics, you should check out Russia's Arkona. Their medieval modern sound works well while standing out in a crowded world of heavy metal bands.

- Genghis needs to get back to practicing his mandolin...

Monday
May192014

Marty Friedman - Inferno

Been wondering where the hell Marty Friedman went? Well, he's back, tough guy! And he's ready to shred your face...off...your face.Ex-pat Marty Friedman virtually disappeared 15 years ago after a memorable stint with Megadeth leaving the newer of his converts wondering "where can I get more of this guy"? Certainly older shredheads know of his legendary work with Cacophony and even his work in between playing with Megadeth, which included one of my favorite instrumental albums of all time, Scenes.

The closest he comes to the Eastern leanings that began to show on that highly Asian-influenced album (co-produced by Kitarō, no less) is Undertow with Greg Bissonette and Tony Franklin, one of many impressive collaborative efforts. Horrors, co-written by his old Cacophony co-hort Jason Becker, is unsurprisingly an amazing piece of work complete with acoustic interlude à la [Becker's] Air. The world beat-friendly Wicked Panacea bears a delightful, heavy Latin flavor thanks to guest Mexican duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, who are known for their strong connection to heavy metal music. Lycanthrope features some shred-off exchanges between Alexi Laiho and Marty that never descend to mere brinksmanship. There are plenty other moments on this album where Marty is content to share the stage with his peers rather than just name drop on the label while wanking away. Simply put, this album is a great example of how a great shredder can grow into a bonafide master musician that serves his muse - rather than just hoisting up her shirt from behind to show off her tits to the crowd.

Oh, one final note to give you an idea of Friedman's inventiveness as a collaborator, musician and songwriter: check out Meat Hook with jazz-metal saxophonist Jørgen Munkeby (Shining) where Marty and Jørgen trade off some amazing phrases in a frentic but controlled solo section that builds to an abrupt climax. Great stuff.

The Bottom Line: Marty makes a triumphant return to American ears with a highly collaborative album that shows an impressive and very satisfying degree of diversity and depth. Friedman's matured nicely into a shredder's shredder and I couldn't be happier about it. Arigato, Hebimeta-san!

Tracks That May Make You Appreciate Instrumental Guitar Albums Again: Wicked Panacea, Meat Hook, Sociopaths, Lycanthrope, and Horrors

- Genghis is is digging through his cassettes...

Friday
May162014

KXM (Self-Titled)

Who said there ain't such things as super groups anymore?  Not sure, but they need to get their head out of their ass, because their are some killer side projects being formed, by some of the greats.  Some of these supergroup experiments go array, but some work.  The latest to catch my ear is the collaboration of dUg Pinninck (Kings X), George Lynch (Lynch Mob) and Ray Luzier (Korn).  The band is called KXM, which features a letter from each members day job. 

KXM is a raw, stripped down, nasty piece of rock n roll.  The foundation of their sound, is based in heavy blues, but there is also abit of soul mixed in, thanks to Mr. Pinnick.  dUg sings his ass off on this record.  And that is the thing about this album, because it seems that each guy is at the top of his game.  Lynch is on fire on every track, even when he experiments a little, displaying some of his best work in years.  I also have a new respect for Ray Luzier, because this guy does some nice work on this CD.  I don't tend to pay too much attention to what the drummer is doing, but with this one, Luzier, has my full attention.

This CD is full of rockers, a ballad and an instrumental.  Each musician is at the top of their game, as if they had something to prove with this release.  You can tell the guys had a good time making this record, because it is apparent in their performances.  If I were to pick one band, that I hear more of, out of the three, it would have to Kings X.  One, just because dUg is the vocalist, but secondly, the record features those signature Pinnick harmonies, that I've been missing, from the last few Kings X releases.  Also, there is some heavy Lynch Mob overtones, but what do you expect.  This a groove laden rocker that will stay in the rotation for some time.  Go get it.

The Bottom Line:  KXM proving that they live up to the name supergroup.  Kings X meet Lynch Mob, with a whole lot of soul mixed it.  This is one of the best realeases of the year, by far. 

Standout Tracks: Rescue Me, Faith is a Room, Stars, and Do it Now

- Ragman hopes this isn't a one off - but it's too good to stop at one release...

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