About halfway through ‘Possessed by the Wolf’, Gengis Khan suddenly decide to tell us that they are more modern than they were presenting as, dropping a change in riff that heralds the way for heavier, more technical, and more exciting content to come. Until then I had thought these Italians just another bunch of ‘80s revisionists mixing up power and heavy metal with strong production. In the end, I suppose this would appeal to those who like Primal Fear or other robust power/heavy metal acts, since it caters to heavy and singalong aspects without forgetting to introduce some flashy leads.
Possessed by the Moon has plenty of tricks up its sleeve to last an undemanding 41 minutes. ‘Eternal Flame’ is a relatively straightforward ballad with some piano and just enough room for emotion around the pumped slow guitars, and that piano adds an intriguing songwriting feature to the title track. A little tinkling motif appears as a lick early on in the song, which is then picked up by the lead guitar when it arrives to solo, effectively making the first melody line already a refrain, not to mention adding to the intrigue of the same moonlit piano coming back for its own brief solo towards the end. The chorus there has a little King Diamond character in its construction, while ‘Sandman’ explodes with the speed of a power thrash number, and ‘The Wall of Death’ shoots at an existing epic USPM target with its war theme. Even commonly fixed parts of traditional power metal are open for expansion, so the technical solo in ‘Long Live the Rebels’ really starts to melt down preconceptions by the time we arrive there.
I have a lot of time for smart, forward-thinking bands like Gengis Khan, especially when they have a foot in the traditions of their genre. Wrong-footing me once again before we part, I seem to have picked up a bonus track from somewhere, actually one titled after the band. As you might sort of expect, it’s a fucking banger and has probably the most epic chorus of the album to boot. You really have to get a version with ‘Gengis Khan’ on it, and you really have to hand it to the creators too – this is a delight of twisted trad.
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