I've been an obsessed hard rock & heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.
Gengis Khan - "Possessed By The Moon"
Stormspell Records, 2022
Genre: Heavy/Power Metal
9 Tracks, Run Time: 40:47
Gengis (sic) Khan was a new name to me when the promo of their latest Stormspell release, Possessed By The Moon, arrived in my inbox, but a quick bit of Google searching revealed that this theatrical quintet hails from Bologna, Italy, and has been kicking around the Euro metal scene since 2012. Possessed... is their third full length, following 2013's Genghis Khan Was A Rocker, 2019's self titled EP, and 2021's Colder Than Heaven. I'm going to assume that the mis-spelling of "Genghis" is intentional, to differentiate them from the half dozen or so other metal combos who've used the Mongolian warlord's moniker as a band name over the years.
On Possessed By The Moon, the members of Gengis Khan have whipped up nine tracks of fast, frenzied, goth-tinged power/speed metal with a slightly tongue-in-cheek, humorous vibe (particularly in their outlandish image, which resembles a troop of evil, corpse painted medieval trolls!).
While investigating some of Gengis Khan's earlier work on YouTube, I noticed several commenters comparing them to Germany's Powerwolf. I was not familiar with them, but after checking out some of Powerwolf's stuff I can agree that there's a bit of a resemblance. I'd also add some Grave Digger and Rhapsody Of Fire comparisons (though Gengis Khan are not quite as gritty as G.D. and not as ridiculously over-the-top as R.O.F.).
All together, Possessed By The Moon is a treat for those who like their metal melodic, but don't want to skimp on the heavy, either. Let's enter Gengis Khan's dark world...
The first thing I noticed upon pressing "play" was how well produced this album is -- it fairly leaps from the speakers and grabs your attention from the very first note. The drums, keyboards, and lead guitar solos on this album were recorded by Simone Mularoni, a prolific Italian metal musician and producer whose vast resume includes stints with Sweet Oblivion (which was fronted by former Queensrÿche vocalist Geoff Tate), Sunstorm, and the Frontiers All Stars.
"Possessed By The Wolf" (not to be confused with the title track, which comes later in the running order) gets things off to a fine, rollicking start, with catchy, gang-shouted verses over some nice crunchy metal riffing and occasional horror-movie keyboard sounds. Frank Leone's snarling vocal style fits the music perfectly, and the guitar team of Mike Leone and Neil Grotti keep the heavy flowing.
"In The Name of Glory" grinds along at a nice, bruising pace ala Accept, and "Extreme Power" is straight up speed metal straight out of the early Helloween catalog. For an Italian band, these guys sure do sound awfully German! The fine ballad "Eternal Flame" pulls back on the accelerator at the album's midpoint, then it's back to the crunch with the all-men-play-on-ten title track.
"Sandman" is a speedy little number with a hint of Iron Savior (more Germans!), and the epic "The Wall Of Death," the longest track on the album at a hair over five minutes, is a big, cinematic opus full of head-bang-able riffage and burly vocal work.
"Long Live The Rebels" is another sweet, four-on-the-floor speed metal cut with a killer solo, and the album comes to a close with "Genghis Khan" (spelled correctly this time!), a "bonus track" that's apparently exclusive to Stormspell's CD version. It's another thunderous, chunky metal attack that ends the disc on a high note.
Summing It Up
It took a few spins before Possessed By The Moon finally "clicked" with me, but once it did, I found myself enjoying it quite a bit. These guys have got musical chops to spare, and their slightly off-center presentation and image makes me chuckle. I get the feeling that Gengis Khan would be a hell of a lot of fun to see live. If they bring even half of the energy that they show on this album onto the concert stage, then their gigs must be an absolute hoot!
If you like what you hear in the YouTubes accompanying this review, you can learn more about Gengis Khan at their official Bandcamp page, or visit them on Facebook. Possessed By The Moon CDs can be found at the official Stormspell store. Tell'em I said "hi," and as always, my friends, keep it heavy and support underground metal!
© 2022 Keith Abt