That time Genghis said...
Album of the Month - July
  • Periphery III: Select Difficulty [Explicit]
    Periphery III: Select Difficulty [Explicit]
    Sumerian Records
Video of the Month - July
  • Metal Meltdown (Bluray/DVD/CD) [Blu-ray]
    Metal Meltdown (Bluray/DVD/CD) [Blu-ray]
    by Twisted Sister
  • 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

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...


Gun Barrel - Damage Dancer

You might be tempted to say "this band is just a G&R ripoff", but when's the last time G&R sounded this good?It's been nearly 30 years since Guns and Roses hit the scene and very few bands have managed to capture that kind of raw, hard rock power with any sort of sincerity, much less efficacy. But then you run across a band like Gun Barrel, brandishing their latest studio album Damage Dancer, to try to change your mind. These German boys get pretty damn close to evoking the ballsy, bluesy feel of a bar band that's ready to explode onto the audience as much as rock them.

Formed back in 1998, this quartet has been slowly, quietly making a big name for themselves by the tried and true practice of paying their dues, and it shows on album with no fancy studio gimmicks, just classic sweat and swagger captured in 12 high energy tracks.

Guitarist Rolf Tanzius does a nice job of delivering dirty but tight riffs over the solid backbeat of Tomcat Kintgen (bass) and Toni Pinciroli (drums) while singer Patrick Sühl's alley cat wail wraps it all up with a bow for a potent package of heavy rock and roll right off the Sunset Strip. If only Axl and Slash still had this kind of rocket sauce.

The Bottom Line: Gun Barrel do an amazing job of delivering the feel of being at the Whisky A Go Go circa the mid 80s, and while that time may be past, it's great to know that someone can still rock like that when the originators of the style couldn't do it anymore if they tried.

- Genghis would love to see these dudes tear up a joint live...