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

Winger - Better Days Comin'

Hard to believe that after being around nearly 30 years this is only Winger's sixth studio album.The more time passes, the more I relish getting new material from Kip Winger. Say what you want about his ex-Chippendale's dancer posturing days on MTV, but Kip and company is one of the few hair metal acts that can still put out good product, unlike some of their contemporaries (Dokken, I'm looking at you). And though that output has been sparse - their latest, Better Days Comin', being only their sixth studio release since 1988 - I'd stack the quality level of the music up against any other band's career.

Now, to be sure, I wouldn't claim that Winger's strength is innovation. You won't find some de rigueur progressive gymnastics or melodic death chug on this album (though Tin Soldier is satisfyingly unpredictable). This band's true talent lies in making great listenable songs and making it look effortless, as if they have this bag of great tunes from which to pull at any given moment. Even when they throw something in that's less energetic, possibly threatening to ruin the momentum, you still get a groovy track like Ever Wonder and it's all good. This I think is a testament to the group's dynamics and working relationships. Kip is usually the principal songwriter, and the synergy of him and Reb set the tone for the rest of the band. These cats just make great music when they get together. 

The Bottom Line: If you haven't listened to Winger in a while, or are curious about them ("Hey, is this that one band with the hairy, shirtless guy from back in the day?"), this album is a great way to check them out. They're still a great group of musicians that don't take themselves anywhere near as seriously as bands with half their talent. 'Nuff said.

Tracks To Do The Whole Rock Out In Your Underwear In Your Bedroom To: Midnight Driver Of A Love MachineQueen Babylon, Better Days Comin', Tin Soldier, So Long China, Storm In Me, and Out Of This World (with Reb Beach's patented mega outro solo)

- Genghis is practicing his one-handed bass playing while pointing technique...


Words Of Farewell - The Black Wild Yonder

Don't ask me why, but I've always loved album covers with pictures of beautiful women looking distressed with their eyes closed. Seriously.You may recall my enthusiasm for Words Of Farewell's debut full length album, Immersion, and the heralding of the burgeoning subgenre of progressive melodic death metal. Well, after nearly two years of making us wait the lads from Deutschland are back in fine form with their sophomore release, The Black Wild Yonder.

As previously mentioned with Immersion, WOF have a great foundation in that now legendary In Flames melodeath sound while keeping things more accessible with catchy melodies and a driving energy that never wanes. Factor in the amazing musicianship from vocalist Alexander Otto's iron throat to lead guitarist Erik Gaßmus' blazing but restrained fretwork and you're looking at a hell of a band; one that was good enough to be picked to open on tour for the likes of Dark Tranquility and Scar Symmetry.

Now while this latest album is as good as the previous one without a doubt, I do feel like the mix was a bit lacking on this one. I had a hard time hearing the guitars as distinctly as I would've liked, especially since blazing solos are one of the genre's hallmarks. But, truth be told, that's all I can find fault with on this otherwise fantastic disc. Ausgezeichnet, ihr alle!

The Bottom Line: Once again Words Of Farewell prove that not only is the subgenre started by bands like In Flames still viable, but it can even be improved a bit. Outstanding work!

Tracks To Make You Wish You Lived In Europe So You Could See Bands Like This All The Fucking Time: All of them

- Genghis would love to see these guys on a bill with Scar Symmetry...


Temperance (Self-titled)

The symphonic metal genre gets a really nice kick in the rear with some melodeath elements, courtesy of Temperance.So sure there's nothing new about a female-fronted band, even a heavy one. But often times the sticky wicket is that the overall sound suffers for lack of the aggressive edge that metal fans expect, relegating otherwise talented singers to mere novelty and eye candy.

Europe's latest rockers, Temperance, have just hit the scene with their self-titled debut album mixed and mastered by none other than guitar wizard Simone Mularoni (DGM). Right off the bat you can appreciate the band's committment to a heavy sound despite the symphonic metal trappings one might expect. Sure, they're there, but I've rarely heard this level of power - from the satisfying rhythmic punch to the addition of death metal growls - in bands like Nightwish or Lacuna Coil. Less gothic adornment, more balls and chunk™. Capische?

The Bottom Line: In this incredible modern age of metal it takes a lot to stand out from the crowd, but Temperance has a formula that works pretty well, taking symphonic metal and kicking it up a few notches with some heavy almost progressive elements. Nice debut, guys (and gal).

- Genghis can't get enough of Simone's shredding on YouTube...


Astra - Broken Balance

Holy shit, this may be album of the year right here, folks. Italy does it again with some amazing progmetal goodness.I couldn't be more clear on my love of progressive metal as a distinct and vital subgenre of heavy metal. And one of the reasons is that, when done well, it provides such excitement in its seemingly endless rhythmic permutations. It's the flip side of something like Bachman Turner Overdrive's Taking Care Of Business "with that incredibly simplistic drumbeat that even basic amoeba can keep time to." [Thank you, Dennis Miller]

Case in point, just when you think you've heard it all along comes a band like Italy's Astra. Centered around keyboard virtuoso Emanuele Casali (DGM, of course), the band got their start as a Dream Theater tribute band. And it shows in their ability to craft mature, complex - but, more importantly, listenable - progmetal tunes that both impress and entertain. There's no shortage of amazing musicianship here with blistering melodic solos from Casali, who is also listed in the credits as playing guitar, along with Silvio D'onorio De Meo. For all I know Silvio is just playing rhythym - in which case Casali is a fucking monster in the vein of the venerable double-duty Tony MacAlpine.

In any case, progmetal fans will no doubt be impressed with the music on Astra's third studio album, Broken Balance, replete with intense riffage and topped with smooth, harmonized vocals that wrap everything up into a complete package of some of the best music I've heard in a while. You'll find elements of Queensrÿche, Symphony X and Dream Theater with a nice touch of dirt à la Haji's Kitchen.

The Bottom Line: Astra is making some great progressive metal that pays homage to the best of the subgenre while offering their own unique sound. This is easily a contender for album of the year. Keep it up, guys!

Tracks To Make You Want To Start An Air Guitar Band: Hole In The Silence, Sunrise To Sunset, Broken Balance, Faithless, Break Me Down, and You Make Me Better

- Genghis really needed this album right about now...


Below - Across The Dark River

Man, I hope this dude made sure to pack plenty of under-wear. Get it? He's going to the under-world? Nothin'? Ahh, you guys suck.Sweden has long been the home of some of heaviest, darkest metal around, but a lot of doom metal tends to end up as so much droning with little regard to melody. Enter Below who seek to right that wrong with their debut album, Across The Dark River.

Moulded by great bands like early-era Black Sabbath, Below proves that the riff is king in the land of doom, and that good songs begin and end with a catchy riff upon which you build epic metal. Sounding like a cross between Ronnie James Dio and Zak Stevens, vocalist Zeb, clearly in his element, has the powerful voice you want in the midst of this intrepid death march.

Last year they released an EP that received enough buzz to catch the attention of major labels which eventually landed them in the studio of legendary King Diamond guitarist Andy LaRocque who stated "This is one of the heaviest bands I have worked with in the studio for a very long time". The results speak for themselves and fans of old school doom riffery like Candlemass and the Sabs should be very pleased indeed.

The Bottom Line: Fans of doom metal yearning for the days when the riff was a foundation for a song rather than an afterthought should check out Below's impressive debut. So, get your mind right, slap on those headphones, and fucking crank it.

Tracks To Be Listened To On A Cool Spring Night With The Windows Open: Bid You Farewell, Portal, and Mare Of The Night

- Genghis remembers fondly the days of listening to big console stereo systems...