Forgotten Gems-Kublai Khan
This band actually had a small buzz back then just because their guitarist/vocalist Greg Handevidt had briefly played guitar in an early version of Megadeth. Handevidt was a childhood friend of Dave Ellefson. The two moved to LA to get into music and met Dave Mustaine shortly after he was out of Megadeth. The three formed Megadeth, but Handevidt moved back to Minnesota not long after. In 1985 he formed Kublai Khan who would release just this one album. This album has always received very different reviews. The album suffers from poor production, but that was standard with anyone on New Renaissance. Also despite having been released in 1987 this album sounds more like it could have been done around 1985 or even earlier. Because the style often falls between early speed metal and thrash. Plus there are only seven songs and one is an instrumental. Despite all that this album shreds. Opener "Death Breath" has deep heaviness and follows a solid beat while the solos are fast and furious. "Mongrel Horde" alternates between heavy pounding with a slight early Celtic Frost feel, but then picks to a speed metal frenzy. "Down to the inferno" has deep heavy parts centered on a swirling riff and this may be my favorite track. The next three tracks "Liar's Dice", "Passing away" and "Battle Hymn" are all similar to early Megadeth and Metallica. They have basic raw riffs, but plenty of them."Clash of the swords" is an instrumental with lots of heavy grooves and the guitars let loose all over the place. The rhythm section is simple, but solid and the guitars are raw and slightly sloppy but they are far more hit than miss. Greg Handevidt also does a respectable job on the vocals. His voice is clean, but he has a strong tone and manages to sound melodic at times too. It's a shame they didn't push on and do another album hopefully with better production, but that never happened. Still an enjoyable album in the speed metal/early thrash style and I love the almost over the top guitar style and the mix of early gallop and heavy, slower riffs. It showed they had some of their own ideas and were not afraid to mix them in with their influences. Track this one down.