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Album of the Month - April
  • Horizons
    by Anubis Gate
Video of the Month - April
  • Led Zeppelin - Good Times, Bad Times
    Led Zeppelin - Good Times, Bad Times
    starring Led Zeppelin
Good Reading
  • The Art of Metal: Five Decades of Heavy Metal Album Covers, Posters, T-Shirts, and More
    The Art of Metal: Five Decades of Heavy Metal Album Covers, Posters, T-Shirts, and More
    Voyageur Press


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

Teenage Casket Company - Best Kept Secret

Looking for some great rock music for your summer soundtrack? Look no further than the Teenage Casket Company; power-pop punk done right.Well, it happened again! I found a band that has totally kicked my ass. Teenage Casket Company [TCC] pack a power pop punch unlike any band I have heard in a while. In the late 90s and early 2000s there was an influx of bands that were just one-offs that didn't stick around long enough to really make a name for themselves.  TCC was one of those bands, having formed in 2003 and putting out a couple of releases before sinking into obscurity. Fortunately, there was enough of a demand for the band to strap on the guitars again, resurfacing in 2012 after a 6 year hiatus thanks to a small but loyal following. 

TCC is a hard rock, power pop, trio with a punk edge (sounds cool, doesn't it?) making for a fusion of 80s alternative and hard rock (imagine a punk version of Cheap Trick). Their recent release, Best Kept Secret, is a best of collection consisting of their only 2 releases: Dial it Up and the Eat Your Heart Out EP.  This CD is chock full of melodic songs with catchy-as-hell choruses. From start to finish there is no shortage of killer tracks. 

I think I dig the mid-tempo rocker Cocaine the best, ably driven by a killer riff and an infectious chorus. I really like how these guys blend in the 80s alternative to their sound, as heard in the INXS-flavored Thank You for Nothing. Killer stuff. This CD reminds me a lot of the soundtrack for Not Another Teen Movie from a few years back, itself a compilation of power punk/rock bands doing covers of classic 80s alternative songs.  TCC has that power punk feel, over a solid foundation of 80s alternative mixed with hard rock.  I think this is my official CD for the summer. Great party rock!

The Bottom Line:  Power pop with a punk attitude. Well-written, fun songs that will stay with you and leave you wanting more.

Standout Tracks: Cocaine, Best Friend is My Radio, Down on Luck and Don't Look at Me Like That

- Ragman recently dyed his hair green. "But you're bald"? Uhh, then don't ask...


Lykaion - Nothin' But Death

Described as a blend of metal, hard rock, thrash and gothic, I'd say this Italian band is a cross between In Flames and Type O Negative. Oh, and they kick ass.The melodeath movement has clearly had a profound influence on European metal - which isn't a complaint, mind you. Italy's Lykaion shows this inspiration on their debut album, Nothin' But Death, while managing to differentiate themselves. True, the juxtaposition of heavy riffs replete with howling harmonics and very singable, melodic choruses are a staple of the melodeath movement. 

After kicking around in various forms since 2003 and putting out a handful of demos, they've put together a damn fine first album. Lykaion's hundreds of live shows have helped it develop into a well-realized rock band with a familiar at first sound that offers more upon subsequent listens. This is just great rock music, folks.

The Bottom Line: Lykaion's gothic vibe hearkens back to [bands like] Type O Negative's surreal moods and atmospheric textures, which makes for an energizing sound with a melodic smoothness to balance it all out. Funny, it's making me think of good beer.

Tracks to Make You Want To Crank It Up at Work: A Cold Summer Day, Free From All Your FearsFuck You (I Love Myself) & Together

- Genghis can't believe how much good new music he's discovered recently...


District 97 - Trouble With Machines

I may have a thing for chick singers, but only the ones that sound good. And Leslie Hunt sounds great.I have gone on record before about my penchant for female singers. They simply bring a unique sound to modern metal music with the potential to make any of its subgenres richer by the inclusion.  Case in point: Chicago's District 97, whose sophomore effort Trouble With Machines is one of the best things I've heard in a while, period.

My enjoyment of the band is largely due to Leslie Hunt, who some may remember as a finalist on American Idol a few years back. The band was originally an instrumental prog outfit a lá Liquid Tension Experiment before deciding they wanted to add a vocalist. Leslie's voice (sounding like a cross between Swing Out Sister's Corinne Drewery and Björk) is refreshing, being a rock singer that doesn't downplay the higher registers and soulful tambre of her natural voice within the medium of a heavy (at times) prog rock outfit.  Sure, there are others that resist the temptation to try to compete with the cookie monster roars of their male counterparts, but Leslie isn't afraid to put some real soul into it, providing a beautiful contrast to the colder, more technical side of such music.

The music alone would still get a high rating from me, reminding me of simliar bands such as Spock's Beard or Gordian Knot with a more guitar-oriented sound.  Guest spots by such prog luminaries as John Wetton (King Crimson, Asia) and Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson, Gordian Knot) don't hurt either.

The Bottom Line: This relatively new band scratches my prog rock itch in a big way, and the vocals of Leslie Hunt on top really put things into a refreshingly unique soundspace. I'm loving this band!

Tracks to Make You Search for District 97 on YouTube: Open Your Eyes, The Actual Color, The Perfect Young ManWho Cares?

- Genghis won't stop playing this album at the office today (suck it, co-workers!)...


Words of Farewell - Immersion

One of the best CDs I've heard in a while. I'm loving this progressive death metal subgenre, dude.Hot damn! Let's hear it for Words of Farewell's debut, Immersion. Following a couple of smaller releases over the last few years, the German prog death metal band has crafted an amazing sounding album full of everything you'd expect from one of my favorite new metal subgenres.

In the vein of classic In Flames or Scar Symmetry, you get the melodies and growly vocals of melodeath but with a progressive twist that makes for interesting music you can enjoy risking whiplash to. While the former may have played a huge part in creating melodic death metal, In Flames sadly strayed away from their innovative formula of heavy rhythms, melodic choruses and - most importantly - technically amazing guitar solos. And while technical death metal gets closer to that formula than most metal outfuits, that subgenre tends to favor dispassionate technicality in lieu of melody. Like Gandalf said, "It is in progressive death metal that we must place our hope."

At least I'm sure that's what he meant.

The Bottom Line: Picking up where melodeath left off, Words of Farewell perfects and improves the formula with a progressive edge that is just what the subgenre needed. One of the best debut CDs I've heard in some time. I can't wait to hear more.

Tracks to Make Your Nickelback T-shirt Wearing Roommate Do a Spit Take: Project: Daybreak, Ever After & Sundown Seranade

- Genghis cannot wait to enjoy some good beer tonight...


SOiL - ReLiving The Scars in London

Soil has always been a band that has intrigued me.  On paper, you would think that they were a death metal band, based on the resume's of many of the band members; but in reality they are a Alt-Metal band with balls and chunk.  Formed back in the late 90's the band has put out 5 studio albums and just recently their first and only live album/DVD Re-living the Scars in London

The band has been fairly active since their inception, but has unfortunately not been able to achieve the success that they deserve.  Not sure if is was the departing of original vocalist Ryan McCombs, early on to front Drowning Pool, during their peak or just the market.  McCombs left the band, but returned to the fold just this past year, after the departure of his replacement A.J. Cavalier.  The band released (3) albums before his departure, and two since.  The last of the albums being Picture Perfect, which made some waves on radio, but never exploded. 

The live DVD is sort of a celebration of the Scars and Redefine records.  The set list on the DVD/CD is compiled from these two records, omitting material from the non-McCombs era of the band.  Too bad, because there was some strong material on those records as well.   That being said, what has been included rocks.  The band look and sound great, and what a great package, being a DVD/CD combo set.  The show is a concert film, with some special camera work, that is tasteful and not distracting.  All in all a nice package and a great way for these guys to get back on track and start trying to take over the world again.

Bottom Line: A solid performance by a band with new found life.  It is amazing when a band reunites and just starts clicking again.  A nice heavy show, from a band that is going places.

-Ragman loves the Scars record and will pull it out of the library to prove it.