I think I may not be far off the mark if I say that there are hundreds of tribute albums, and that only a handful are worth buying. Usually, tribute albums are a way for sub-sub-underground bands to get their (usually death metal style) songs out to a wider audience. Thankfully, I was happy to find that "A Tribute to the Beast" is an exception.

As usual, here's a track-by-track bit covering the album.

"The Ides of March / Purgatory" by Steel Prophet: Pretty faithful to the original. The vocalist even sounds quite a bit like Paul Di'anno at times.

"Aces High" by Children of Bodom: Given their vocal style, it's logical that this sounds like a more black metal version of the original. OK, though, if you can handle that style of vocals.

"The Trooper" by Rage: You can instantly hear it's Rage playing this track when the vocals set in. It's close to the original but still the song gets their own touch. Good.

"Hallowed be Thy Name" by Cradle of Filth: From their limited "Celtic Cross" edition of "Cruelty and the Beast", this is not the best cover Cradle have ever done ("Hell Awaits" was totally superb!), but pretty good. Given their style, obviously, this is a synthy black metal version of the original.

"Running Free" by Grave Digger: Much like the original, however with the typical, um, let's say vocal approach one expects of Grave Digger. If you can handle that, this track is pretty cool.

"Prowler" by Burden of Grief: Never heard of this band before, but for all I know they may be huge in the German underground. They play a black metal version of "Prowler". So-so.

"Die With Your Boots On" by Sonata Arctica: Faithful to the original. Nothing much makes it stand out (nor sink away).

"Children of the Damned" by Therion: Although done by Therion, it hasn't got a typically Therionized style. Also, I don't like the vocals at all actually.

"Transylvania" by Iced Earth: From what I have heard other people tell about their singer, perhaps it's good that this is an instrumental track. At the end, however, it leaves me wanting them to have added "Strange World"...which must mean they've done a good job.

"Remember Tomorrow" by Opeth: Good original, good interpretation that is still largely similar to the original. One of the best tracks on this tribute, I think.

"The Number of the Beast" by Sinergy: Is Kimberly Goss really American? You wouldn't say from her horrible pronunciation throughout the spoken bit at the beginning. But once she gets largely drowned by the music coming on it's really quite a good version.

"Stranger in a Strange Land" by Disbelief: This could have come straight off one of those dodgy Dwell Records dime-a-dozen tribute albums. Screamed death metal vocals that prove to me these guys don't have a clue really.

"Flight of Icarus" by Tierra Santa: Remember a Holy Records band called On Thorns I Lay? I don't recall how they described the genre, or the particularly peculiar vocal style of these Greeks. I don't think it was "semi-horny whispering in a Greek accent", but nonetheless that is how I remember it. Tierra Santa supply "Flight of Icarus" with this exact vocal style, except the accent is Spanish. Granted, they are the only band on this tribute that really give an Iron Maiden track their own treatment. But that doesn't mean I have to like it.

"22 Acacia Avenue" by Dark Tranquillity. Death metal Gothenburg style. I couldn't tell you what's different between this and Disbelief, exactly, but I like this track a lot.

"Wrathchild" by Six Feet Under: From their "Graveyard Classics" cover album. Really pretty good. I never did mind that album, nor do I mind Chris Barnes' vocals.

"Powerslave" by Darkane. Musically not bad at all, but the vocals are too mediocre. When I finished playing this track, I had a desperate need to put on "Live After Death" and listen to Bruce doing it.

"A Tribute to The Beast" is a good tribute album, also because it's over 76 minutes long. After the unusual "Tribute to Abba" this is another collection of cover songs released by Nuclear Blast. I hope they may do something like this again in the slightly distant future.

Incidentally, now I'm on the subject of tribute albums, I recently downloaded MP3s of Pat Boone's album "In a Metal Mood - No More Mr. Nice Guy" (I'd rather be caught dead then actually buying anything by Pat Boone, I mean, my dad digged Pat Boone in the 50's...). This is actually a pretty cool album containing remarkably OK covers of tracks originally by Ozzy, Judas Priest, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Van Halen, Megadeth, Dio, Guns'n'Roses, Metallica and others. In case you wouldn't mind being caught dead buying that album, you can click here :-)



Written April 2002


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