Cover Albums: Personalization Without Imitation

After performing amazing cover versions of songs like Joe Jackson’s “Got the Time” and Trust’s “Antisocial,” one would think thrash legends Anthrax would know a thing or two about doing covers.  That assumption is doubted by the band’s covers EP, Anthems.  While the instrumental portion of the band makes the songs heavier than their original versions, Joey Belladonna seems to weigh down their impact with his vocals.  That is not to say that Belladonna is a bad singer, because he’s not.  He has arguably one of the best voices in thrash metal, if not all of the metal sub-genres.  However, Anthems does not portray his unique vocal style.  Instead, he is found imitating each lead singer featured on the original songs.  For instance, on “Anthem,” originally performed by Rush, Belladonna distorts his voice into a very nasally falsetto to match Geddy Lee’s signature sound.  While that is probably the most obvious one, he does it with all the other songs on Anthems.

Unfortunately, Anthems sounds like something a classic rock tribute band would release, not an established thrash act simply performing some cover songs.  That is not the case with Adrenaline Mob’s Coverta, which was released a week earlier than Anthems, on March 12, 2013.  Coverta has Adrenaline Mob written all over it, despite the entire release being cover songs.

One stand-out track on Coverta is Adrenaline Mob’s version of “Barracuda,” by Heart.  Singer Russell Allen does not attempt to sound like Ann Wilson of Heart, because that would just be plain silly.  No, he hits similar notes in his own vocal range, and it works.  The whole band sounds great and maintains its style.  Another key track is Led Zeppelin’s “The Lemon Song.” Again, Allen does not try to reach Robert Plant’s almost unreachable notes.  Also, the band maintains their heavy, rough-edged sound while still honoring the original version.  As for “Kill the King,” “Stand Up and Shout,” and “The Mob Rules,” Allen can handle a similar vocal range to that of the late Ronnie James Dio.  Therefore, he is able to excel on each of those songs.

Needless to say, Adrenaline Mob personalized their covers while Anthrax sadly went the “imitation” route.

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