We all know compilations of cover songs can be a hit or miss affair, but when you've got bands doing their own wildly inventive takes on the music of one of their own favorite bands, that's when it gets interesting. This hefty double-disc compilation tribute to Iron Maiden was released by Meteorcity back in 2000, but I finally just picked it up for the first time after hearing the Eternal Elysium cover that appeared on here ater a friend played it for me. Their version of 'Innocent Exile' frankly killed, so I was curious to see if this set had any other cool mutations of classic Maiden tunes. Well, the tribute compilation is pretty much split down the middle in terms of how much liberty the artists involved take with the original; alot of the bands on here do solid if 100% faithful renditions of their favorite Maiden songs, like New Jersey doomlords Solace (who actually show up twice with covers of 'Another Life' and 'The Prophecy'), Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach (whose
cover of 'Chldren Of The Damned' is pretty awesome, as that dude has some of the greatest pipes in metal), Dofka, Shallow, power metallers Ian Parry and Kamelot, Holy Mother, Eleventh Hour, Iron Saviour (featuring members of Helloween, Gamma Ray, and Blind Guardian), killer Canadian proto-metallers Tchort, Cosmosquad (with Ray Alder from Fates Warning on vocals), Fates Prophecy, and Pharaoh.
The standouts on here that make Slave To The Power really worth picking up though are the wild cards that deviate bigtime from the original song:
the aforementioned psychedelic Japanese sludgelords Eternal Elysium turn their version of 'Innocent Exile' into a twisted psych jam that starts off as reggae-tinged blues, and then kicks into maximum heaviness with a lumbering Sabbath-strength version of the song joined by Yukito Okazaki's quirky singing before segueing back into chill lounge jazz. Really stoned, and incredibly groovy.
A Finnish band called Hoyry-Kone win the award for the weirdest version of a Maiden song with their orchestral prog-folk-metal cover of 'The Trooper' that uses trombones, cellos, and sax along with the requisite bass, drums, and guitar, and ends up sounding like a crazed Metal In Opposition jam from Sleepytime Gorilla Museaum. Very cool.
Electric Frankenstien do a snotty punk rock version of 'Aces High' that puts a ragged pogo attack spin on the classic Maiden jam; NOLA sludge masters Crowbar take 'Remember Tomorrow' and turn it into a psychedelic doom crawl that is unsurprisingly one of the heaviest jams on the disc; the heaviest Maiden cover, though, would have to go to the insane concrete doom of Boston's Warhorse, who turn 'Total Eclipse' into a slab of twisted monstrous dirge tuned so goddamn low that when the song kicked in, all of my McFarlane Dragons went flying off the top shelf. Stoner rockers Archie Bunker (who team up with Solitude Aeturnus singer John Perez to put a gritty, desert rock spin on 'Wrathchild', Wardog reinvent 'Purgatory' as old school 80's thrash metal, and Rotors To Rust do a neat heavy psych raveup of 'Invaders'. Las Cruces put their stoner desert doom twist on 'The Prisoner', Swedish stoner rockers The Quill push 'Where Eagles Dare' into the ultimate driving jam, and the final tr
ack on disc two is a progressive thrash version of 'Run To The Hills' as envisioned by John West and Chris Caffery from Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
One of my favorite tracks is from the shortlived Finnish doom band Conquest, which featured members of Nightwish...they do a doomed cover of 'The Evil That Men Do' that is fucking AWESOME, turning the already majestic melody of the original into molten doom metal a la Candlemass or Solitude Aeturnus, with swirling cosmic prog-rock keyboards floating around in the background. It's totally faithful to the spirit of the original song yet turns into something new sounding and even more epic and spaced out, a crushing prog-doom epic that had me hitting repeat about half a dozen times just trying to write this interview.
While I take issue with the fact that this set doesn't use the Eddie Maiden character anywhere in the album art, it does come with a thick booklet loaded with liner notes and writings from the bands regarding their feelings about the songs they chose. Pretty cool!