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Not as bad as some would have you believe. - 70%

tshred666, September 17th, 2013

Maybe it's my age and my fondness for metalcore. Maybe it was the whole process of how I got into metal. Maybe it was my indoctrination by hard rock radio and Fuse circa '05-'08. Or maybe I'm a downright poseur who doesn't know a good cover if it broadsided him like a bull. Who knows? I sure don't, but what I do know is I enjoy this cover. Excluding the rather sterile breakdown this is a fine demonstration of a band morphing a song into another genre.

I can understand some of the complaints levied against this cover. Where the band is just trying to have fun the grandeur and splendor of the original composition gets lost in translation. Where once clear lines were drawn the picture becomes distorted. But this is by no means a parallel to the botched restoration of Ecce Homo. This is more comparable to Machine Head's covers of classic NWOBHM tracks like "The Sentinel" and "Hallowed Be Thy Name". It lacks the same kick, but it delivers a nice bitch slap. Where Campbell's original solo played up enough enough tension to be the toppings of the riff sundae Stroetzel and Dutkiewicz play up a fun and catchy back and forth that functions like rainbow sprinkles on a sea of french vanilla and chocolate syrup. The solo goes from being an integral part of the song's progression and atmosphere to being a pretty dressing with little distinct flavor. And I also understand the gripes with Foley's drumming and Jones' harsh vocals.

But what I don't understand is all the senseless nitpicking that leads to distortions of the truth and outright absurdities. Take for example Mr. Jones' clean register. Any sane and rational individual would see him having a background in pop and rock music which makes the comparison to gospel singers a little silly and the comparison to a hack opera student downright stupid. If you're someone who listens to classical music and thinks that there's any similarity in the vocal technique between Placido Domingo wannabes and Howard Jones you need to punch yourself in the ears. No joke, if you think quirks in phrasing equates to similar timbres, even if you're trying to decry one as a half-hearted attempt at mimicking the other, you need to denounce your education as a musician.

While I am partial to the arguably heavier phrasing and production used on Dio's debut I have to give these guys credit where credit is due, this packs a nice modern edge. The layering on Howard's voice gives it the required presence in the mix, Mike D'Antonio's bass lays down a nice rhythmic foundation and adds a nice rumble to the mix, the axemen have a nice biting tone, and Foley's drums have a nice balance that sounds both modern and organic. The tempo shifts and variations on the original phrases all flow in an organic manner that lets you know this is a metalcore band paying homage to the Holy Father of the old guard.

Say what you will about my status as a metalhead for this, but please just learn how to spot the elements that are actually there and not create a metalcore boogie man. As the sardonic waiter said "Would you like some cheese with your whine?"