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Kublai Khan - Annihilation (CD)

Kublai Khan
by Yiannis Doukas at 25 October 2009, 8:42 AM

The first time I heard this album some years ago I was impressed a lot; not only by its fiery music but also due to the band's name. Their base was in Minnesota and Greg Handevidt was known also for being a member in the very early days of MEGADETH back in the June of 1983. The reason for that was his friendship with Dave Ellefson when they were kids. But in the end, Greg wanted to follow his own musical roads, he left Mustaine's band and the Bay Area returning to Minnesota. There, he met Kevin Idso and together started KUBLAI KHAN. Together with John Fedde -behind the drum kit- and Mike Liska -in bass- they recorded during March 1987 inside Westwood Sound Studio their debut, and last, album Annihilation. Before that probably they had done some demo recordings of the majority of the album's tracks but these tapes had not reached yet my ears and I cannot say anything about.
Now let's move to the album itself. Most of the metalheads will place it to the Thrash sound (and they will be right, sure) but personally I consider that KUBLAI KHAN is a definition of Speed Metal. Annihilation starts in such way that leaves no air for breath. It grabs your balls (or your clitoris if you wish) immediately. With the simplest of the simple but very effective song structures and speed drumming like the neck ripping Death Breath and Mongrel Horde with vocals having some echo similar to a Jeff Becerra whose inverted crosses are replaced by spandex. Also the solos are fabulous. Of course what is good -or not- is relative for each person isn't so? Here what you'll hear is a sonic attack straight to the listener's face including a lot, I mean A LOT from Kirk Hammet's guitars Kill 'Em All era. The thing here is, that they pull it so much that leads you to a frenzy state like drills are raping your eardrums. Paroxysms. And that is good, perfect to my point of view but probably some other will find it too much.
Down To The Inferno is a slow song, comparing to the others but absolutely head crushing and specially in the end the screams from Greg's throat are pure enjoyment and the same goes to the bass line in the bridge part. A speed orgy you will meet in Liar's Dice, Kublai Khan and to the Whiplash - based Battle Hymn (The Centurian). The influences from METALLICA in music and in vocals are evident in high levels. And from METALLICA's children of course. For example friends of the German PARADOX or the Danish ARTILLERY will raise their fists in the air during Annihilation.
To complete this review I must write about the song with the most complicated composing line; Passing Away that has in the middle an good acoustic part (same goes to Death Breath) while the instrumental Clash Of The Swords is more IRON MAIDEN-ish but it is butt penetrating.
Although their debut was a bomb, KUBLAI KHAN didn't had any success except some opening gigs for METAL CHURCH, KING DIAMOND and KREATOR, with their ending coming around 1989. Fourteen years passed and the label Exit Only Records will re-release this album (the original was through New Renaissance Records) and there were some rumors about a comeback. In the end what you hear I hear too. Silence. What we have here is a new version of the album, this time by Cult Metal Classics and it's a very good opportunity to enjoy some nice and ripping Speed Metal. Although such obscurities goes mostly to 80ies freaks with the Thrash virus inside their blood I believe that everyone will have maniacal moments with songs like Death Breath and Mongrel Horde.

4 Star Rating

Death Breath
Mongrel Horde
Down To The Inferno
Liars Dice
Passing Away
Kublai Khan
Clash Of The Swords
Battle Hymn (The Centurian)
Greg Handevidt - Vocals, Guitars
Kevin Idso - Guitars
Mike Liska - Bass
John Fedde - Drums
Record Label: Cult Metal Classics Records


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