This enigmatic band knows the secret corridors and monstrous labyrinths from where it emerges.
Obsessed record hounds be forewarned. This platter should not be confused with any from the sartorially striking German competitors for the 1979 Eurovision Song Contest. Their eponymous entry “Dschinghis Khan” was transliterated into “Genghis Khan” for the foreign market. While part of the “New German Wave” of Boney M garish pop, that outfit has no connection with their contemporary, an identically named group from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Neither one of these ensembles has any relation to a minor U.S. speed metal band from the end of the ’80s.
This may explain the reason for the challenging orthography, yet again, of Dzjenghis Khan. Disonnected by any lexicographical lineage from its competitors in the Mongol name game, what has been claimed as this neo-psych band’s latest lineup leans far into sharp metal and away from fluffy pop. Heavy Psych Sounds, the label for this self-titled release, offers what may be a send-up of press kit blather. If we believe the trio comprised Binksebus Eruptum (a sly nod to Blue Cheer) on bass, Tommy Tomson on drums and Lane Rider on guitar, then we may wonder about booking the band, as their distributor directs us, or the band’s supposed origins back past “333 lineup changes” to “three young savants” in 1977. No singer’s credited. Supposedly the band left for Holland thirty years after their founding, to record this LP. Unable to discern facts amid fakery, a review pivots from mysterious musicians to their music.
So on to the tracks themselves. Tribal drums and obsessive riffs, Ozzy Osbourne’s doomed wails, and Black Sabbath’s inimitable conjuring of dread seep into the first two songs. Both respectably delivered yet nothing extraordinary. “The Widow” steps in with an oddly mixed, warbling vocal, and this effect helps this cut earn its attitude.
Dzjenghis Khan faces a formidable challenge, when following in the eerie wake of sinister predecessors. Like later Sabbath, this purportedly Dutch trio meets its own stumbling block, into formulaic blues-rock and mindless boogie. “Avenue A” feels like New York City, circa the Summer of Sam. It increases the tension semi-convincingly, given that presumably the band avoided Travis Bickle’s meaner streets.
“Against the Wall” sustains the tempo. “Black Saint” keeps up the urgency. “End of the Line” falls back on a staple of many hard rockers: the endless riff. Like the song titles, these do not grab one’s attention as anything but derivative. They may satisfy any listener wishing to revive the mood of that decade, when punk staggered, metal swaggered, and the two, if after a prolonged hesitation of mutual suspicion, courted.
Eight minutes of a whole lot of “Rosie” returns to take in the primeval gloom and the cosmic dankness of the darker earlier ‘70s. A folksy guitar exercise, “Sister Dorien,” closes this album softly. What does this all add up to? An artifact, if we can believe the claims of its marketer, three dozen years past the peak of its inspirations. And after another 12 years, perhaps a fresh audience, curious about the enduring appeal of Sabbath and its funereal heirs, will roam from an encounter with Dzjenghis Khan to trek back to meet their fearsome progenitors. This enigmatic band knows the secret corridors and monstrous labyrinths from where it emerges, even if we do not.