That time Genghis said...
Album of the Month - November
  • For the Journey
    For the Journey
    Nuclear Blast
Video of the Month - November
  • Scott Ian: Swearing Words in Glasgow
    Scott Ian: Swearing Words in Glasgow
    starring Scott Ian
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


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

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...


Orange Goblin - Back From The Abyss

The Gobs know how to make some good stoner metal, tell you what.Across the pond, they know their way around some heavy tunes. And stoner metal outfit Orange Goblin knows it damn well after nearly twenty years in the biz. Which brings us to their latest release, Back From The Abyss, which is a worthy follow-up to their most successful album in the US to date, A Eulogy For The Damned.

Kicking around since 1995, this English quartet knows how to wreak some spacey metal grooves on ya for sure. And this album is no exception. From the loose swagger of opener Sabbath Hex and Demon Blues to the Motörhead gallop of The Devil's Whip or Bloodzilla, there's ample energy across the dozen new tunes on hand. But for the more laid back, there's more languid fare like the easy shuffle of Into The Arms Of Morpheus and the psychedelic sway of Titan. Great stuff, lads.

The Bottom Line: Fans of good stoner metal - assuming you're not already into the Goblin - should find a lot to like about their latest album, cuz this thing rocks ass. Check it out.

- Genghis plans to have this album on hand for the next road trip...


Kattah - Lapis Lazuli

This Kattah makes some good Brazilian metal with a unique Middle Eastern twist. Sweet album cover too.It's no secret to metalheads that Brazil is a hotbed of genre talent; they clearly take their music seriously and know how to rock a casa. And one of the cool aspects of metal in other countries is how their local musical influences make their way into what becomes a new permutation of the metal formula. Kattah is a great example of this, as heard on their sophomore release, Lapis Lazuli.

Not only do they incorporate traditional music in their writing like fellow metallers Angra (who was impressed enough to ask Kattah to join them on their 2011 tour), but lead singer Roni Sauaf proposed the idea of adding Arabian aspects to the band's style to founders Victor Brochard (guitars) and Cristian Alex (drums). The name itself is supposed to represent an Arabian aura. In any case this is some great Brazilian heavy metal in the aforementioned Angra vein, replete with chugging Iron Maiden style riffage, great melodic solo shreddage, and some of that Arabian influence that adds a nice flavor to the formula. What more do you need?

The Bottom Line: If you're a fan of that South of the border metal sound that is so perfectly embodied in the music of bands like Angra, you'll probably want to check out this album. Not saying they're a rip-off, just that they take what's become a regional sound and added their own unique something to it that's really worth a listen.

- Genghis would have loved to see that tour (Angra/Kattah), you betcha...


Saga - Sagacity

Saga is back with a great album that sounds old and new at the same time and in the best way. Now about that album cover...Ever since I first heard Saga's 1982 classic On The Loose on MTV back in the day (apparently they used to play music videos, like a lot), I've been a fan of their progressive sound - even when I didn't know what the hell progressive rock even was. My interest was no doubt due in no small part to Michael Sadler's distinctive voice which was - and, thankfully, still is - truly one of a kind and an integral part of Saga's sound. Equally important though was Jim Crichton's songwriting abilities as the band had elements of fellow proggers Rush, Yes, Genesis and Kansas in a very radio-friendly package.

Admittedly, I haven't kept up with them since Worlds Apart, so I was quite thrilled to hear their latest studio album Sagacity (their 22nd album, by the way) and that it was a double CD release with new material as well as live material from their recent performance at the SWR1 Rockarena festival last year. Bonus!

First off, the new stuff sounds fantastic, as the opening track Let It Slide kicks in (0:39) with a heavy riff that has a slight Celtic lilt to it that's echoed in the chorus. There's so much energy in this music, and Sadler's voice hasn't lost a note in the nearly forty(!) years of his career. It's a great preview of the first disc of all new material, letting fans know this is their Saga and they've still got it. Oh, and for a nice bit of guitar work, you have to check out Ian Crichton's [Ed. note - Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I couldn't find any info regarding any guest artists on this album, so I assume it's Ian] amazing solo on It Doesn't Matter Who You Are (2:16) which sounds like a tantalizing cross between Reeves Gabrels and Adrian Belew. I just couldn't be more pleased with this band, man, I mean it. Bravo!

The Bottom Line: One of the unsung bands of the golden age of prog rock, Saga has come back in fine form with a double CD that sounds relevant while echoing the beloved past. This album is just fantastic - and there's live stuff from their vast catalog to boot!

- Genghis would LOVE to see these guys rock the House of Blues here this year...


Xerath - III

Wow, lady, you're sure gonna have a hard time getting that dress clean again.Holy crap, Xerath. I've confessed before that I often will stop and check out a new metal band based solely on its album cover. And UK metallers Xerath's latest album III has a classic apocalyptic theme going for it with fiery reds on one side and icy blues on the other, and a lone woman standing amongst (or, perhaps more accurately, submitting to) all hell breaking loose. After listening to this album I feel like this is exactly what's happening sonically here.

Taking their metal assault on the senses (à la Meshuggah) in a new direction with a bonafide string quartet in the mix, Xerath lays down grooves like it's been personally put in charge of writing Armageddon's soundtrack (the biblical event, not the movie, kids). But there's a great sense of melodicism to be found here that many extreme metal bands lack, for my tastes. I'm also impressed with Irish newcomer Conor McGouran (replacing exiting Owen Williams) and his guitar solo work. Nicely done, lad. It's all pretty epic sounding, even if some of the songs seem to blend into each other after a while, but you won't lack for heavy, monster grooves here. Count on it.

The Bottom Line: Xerath's latest studio effort accomplishes the rare feat of laying down heavy as shit, complex rhythyms while still sounding melodic and...well, musical. Good on ya, boys.

- Genghis is itchin' for some serious new live heavy metal action...