That time Genghis said...
Album of the Month - December
  • Clowns Lounge
    Clowns Lounge
    Frontiers Music s.r.l
Video of the Month - December
  • 35 Years And A Night In Chicago [Blu-ray]
    35 Years And A Night In Chicago [Blu-ray]
    starring Night Ranger
  • The Complete David Bowie (Revised and Updated 2016 Edition)
    The Complete David Bowie (Revised and Updated 2016 Edition)
    by Nicholas Pegg

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

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...


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.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...


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...


Deep Purple - Live in California 74

The California Jam in 1974, marked a critical point for Deep Purple.  They had recently lost their singer, Ian Gillan, so they had a lot to prove, and that they did.  The California Jam, was the first major appearance by the Mark III line up, which introduced vocalist David Coverdale and bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes into the band.  The show was electric and full of energy.  The set list comprised of songs from their Burn album, as well as a few classics.  The band were on fire that night, and it shows in this recording.

Live in California 74, was previously only released on DVD, but thanks to Eaglerock Entertainment, we now get to enjoy the audio.  I have to say, I'm not real impressed with the sound quality on this disk.  The sound is thin and comes off sounding more like a bootleg, than an official live release.  Thank God the band was on fire, or this one would have undergone a different filing system, if you know what I mean.  The sound is not terrible, but it could be a lot better.  The poor sound quality ends up taking away from the overall listening experience.  I mean, listen to how the band kills on Mistreated and then image if the sound was better, and you'll get what I mean.  Even though the sound quality is off, this one is essential for Purple fans.

The Bottom Line: Deep Purple unveiling the Mark III line up to U.S. audiences for the first time.  A nice document of this classic line up.  Too bad the sound of the disk is subpar.

- Ragman is thinking he needs to see the DVD for this one...


Dio - Live in London (Hammersmith Apollo)

Oh, how I've been waiting for a DVD from this era of Dio - and on BluRay, no less. It is a dream come true, and for most Dio fans this is a lost era of the band. The band was struggling to find their own, after hosting 3 different guitarists within the span of 5 years, so to make an impact Ronnie was having to mix things up a bit. The first piece of the puzzle was to find a new guitarist - and that he did when he locked in on newcomer Tracy G (Ex-WWIII), leading to a 6-year partnership. It also marked the debut of Ex-Dokken bassist Jeff Pilson. And if that weren't enough, it also marked the return of long-time drummer Vinny Appice, making this incarnation a force to be reckoned with, as is apparent in the new DVD release: Dio - Live in London.

The DVD was filmed '92, in London, on the the Strange Highways tour, and that album marked a new darker/heavier direction for the band - and was possibly the heaviest record Dio ever made. Live in London is a great document of that tour and record. First off, the band sounds amazing and was definitely on top of their game for this show. The setlist is a mix of classic Dio, with a heavy inclusion of songs from the Strange Highways album. Of course, there are the mandatory Sabbath and Rainbow tunes included, but for the most part it's Dio solo material.

Live in London is shot very well and the hi-definition video gives the viewer a sense of being in the front row.  The picture is next to perfect, albeit in a 4:3 aspect ratio, and the band all seems to be having the time of their life putting on one hell of a show. Ronnie's vocals are dead on, and Tracy's playing is very impressive. One of the things I enjoyed most about this DVD was Tracy's interpretation of the solos of his predecessors, keeping the basic ideas of Campbell, Iommi and Blackmore, but putting his own spin on them. I have to say, this is one of the better live Dio DVDs I have in my collection. It's simply a must have for any Dio fan. Go get it!

The Bottom Line: Dio proves once again that he is the greatest metal vocalist of all time. And this DVD is a testament to how good this era of the band was, with great musicianship and great songs executed to perfection.

- Ragman can't wait to see what the Dio camp releases next...