Reviewed: August 2022
Released: 2022, Stormspell Records
Reviewer: Simon Wiedemann
Gengis (sic) Khan are a five piece classic speed metal/heavy metal/power metal band from Italy who formed in 2012. Along with the expertly played typical metal instruments are atmospheric synths from Lee Under. Their third full length album ‘Possessed By The Moon’ was released on May 27th 2022 through Stormspell Records, and their latest single also called PBTM has a refrain that the band say ‘sounds like a hymn!’ It’s a story of love and death, and in contrast to much of their material isn’t a classic metal song.
Good? First up, it’s as if the singer is on the way to becoming fully professional, but hasn’t QUITE made it yet, and sounds ever so slightly amateurish. He has a nice semi-growl to his voice in the style of Alestorm, but at the same time maybe he doesn’t sound as confident as he could. Really that’s a relatively minor criticism I’m sure many won’t agree with. The shred guitar solos on the other hand are very good. First rate, even. Maybe even the album’s main highlights with influences from Alexi Laiho, Tony Macalpine and Marty Friedman. And I’m wondering how many frets the guy’s guitar has. It must be over 24 as things do get squeal-y. The guitar riffs are sadly often very typical, often relying on basic power chords, galloped chugs and moderately fast speed picking. To be fair some of the progressions are pretty musical, especially in the more melodic song ‘Eternal Flame’ but they’re not exactly daring for the most part. I guess most people don’t want to listen to truly daring music as it often sounds like ass. ‘Possessed by Moon’ does have more adventurous harmony that isn’t too weird, though. It kind of has a semi-serious horror vibe. Fun horror, if you will. A little bit like Murderdolls maybe, but more intelligent.
‘The Wall of Death’ and others add clean guitars to the distorted ones, creating much needed extra colours, but most of the songs are largely lacking in tasty, whole-band fills. The cherries on the cakes if you will. ‘Sandman’ does have some brief and cool mini breaks in the style of Iron Maiden, in particular they have a ‘Somewhere in Time’ feel, but again, the album could do with more of them. Short classic metal guitar licks every now and then do add spice, though. Sandman also has more of a thrash vibe in places with a pedal tone riff kind of in the style of Megadeth’s ‘Rattlehead’, upping the interest a little, but such ideas are still pretty cliched. ‘Long Live the Rebels’ has similar fast and chuggy riffs, along with some cool 80s style fuller major/minor chords. They are better than straight power chords, but again, they don’t stand out too much. Bonus track ‘Gengis Khan’ is another uptempo thrill fest, but it’s not quite as good. It does sound quite like a bonus track as by the time it arrives the sound is a little tired, but many will love it I’m sure, in particular Hammerfall fans. ‘Possessed by the Wolf’ and ‘The Wall of Death’ have keyboard riffs that are reminiscent of Children of Bodom, so melodic death metal fans should be at least partly pleased.
In conclusion, the music was at its best (for me at least) when it was flat out with speedy, pounding rhythms and flashy solos that take your breath away. To be fair, there are frequent not too distracting guitar melodies that combine with and add interest to the power chords we all know and love yet are simultaneously tired of, but whilst not bad and certainly not offensive, they’re not too memorable. So yeah, the songwriting has its ups and downs. On the one hand it is often very ‘feel good’, but on the other the songs are a little too similar to Helloween and Hammerfall in their more cheesy moments. The guitar playing alone makes the album worth buying as it’s highly skilled, pretty much as fluent and flowing as possible and crucially, isn’t overindulgent in the style of Yngwie Malmsteen, Stratovarius, etc. Even better, you get SO much wigging out. Certainly check the album out, but it’s not up to classic levels.