Sunday, December 07, 2008

Tribute To The Mountain King ...

Tribute albums can be hit & miss at best. I love the idea behind them, but when they are done poorly it hurts. I couldn't get into the Black Sabbath tribute "Masters Of Reality" or Queen's "Dragon Attack-A Tribute To Queen". Even the Megadeth tribute album "Megaded" is hard to listen to. However, "A Sikk Tribute To Kiss" is great and Six Feet Under's "Graveyard Classics" are fun.

Another fine example of a decent tribute album is "Return Of The Mountain King" a tribute to Savatage from the Italian label Underground Symphony. I also own the Dwell Records release album, but bought the Underground Symphony version with 5 extra songs. The bonus songs were worth it.

The first 5 tracks are bands who are on the Underground Symphony label and perform their covers with conviction. Despite the slight language hump, they strive to bring an original feel to the Savatage songs they've chosen. Projecto does a faithful version of "Follow Me" (One of my favourite Sava songs) and add symphonic flourishes.

Shadows of Steel's "Strange Wings" and Wonderland's "Tonight He Grins Again" are faithful as well with thunderous drums and slightly more groove. "Tonight He Grins Again" has a more haunting feel thanks to guitar effects. Icycore's version of "Gutter Ballet" is pretty straight forward and then we have Eddy Antonini's cover of "Sleep" which if you know Eddy's solo work and his stuff with Skylark, you can imagine what his cover is like. A faithful and more upbeat piano cover.

Division and Cage do fiery renditions of "Power Of The Night" and "Dungeons Are Calling" respectively and Opposite Earth's and Wraith's covers of "Of Rage And War" and "24 Hours Ago" are vicious metal assaults, aggressive and heavy.

I don't care for Civilian's "Prelude And Resurrection Of The Mountain King" an experimental cover of "Prelude To Madness", but Dofka's "Hall Of The Mountain King" is brutal with the vocalist doing his best impression of Jon Oliva with solid results. Mesmerize's "Sirens" is bleak and intense and heavier then the original.

The standout tracks I skip to are the metalcore-ish "Chance" by Cipher who add brutal breakdowns and black metal like screams to create a unique yet familiar cover of Savatage's first epic song. A brilliant interpretation. The other song is Cyrcle IX's raw and passionate cover of "Believe". I was nervous as "Believe" is my all time favourite song, but the bands simplified cover is sheer emotion from the vocalists compassionate wails to the point of breaking and the bare bones solo makes this one of the most poignant cover song I've ever heard.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable album and every band does a fine job at honouring a great metal band. This is a must have for Savatage fans and fans of cover albums.


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