I never thought of myself as someone with a particularly demanding taste. However, my recent cover/tribute album purchase binge has taught me that, perhaps, I am. It is great to discover, though, that there are still certain types of tribute album that you can pretty much buy without a second thought. Triage Records always makes pretty good ones, and Magna Carta, and of course Nuclear Blast. What you get are good musicians (some of them rather well known) who couple their particular style with the original. And, usually, that style is not "death metal with a vocalist who sings only because he can't play an actual instrument".

Disadvantage of the Nuclear Blast tribute albums in particular is the fact that the covers on them have mostly appeared on other albums already. "A Tribute to the Creatures of the Night", for example, boasts 14 tracks of which a mere 2 are previously unreleased. Luckily my personal CD collection is such that only 2 of the tracks were previously heard.

Kiss was the band that everything started with for me. I recall it was 1980, "I Was Made for Loving You" was a hit single and I had just discovered some old stuff in the shape of "Alive II". By now I have listened to "Alive II" so often that I swear I would recognise it instantly if one mere bit on the CD would accidentally be somehow changed. Or, on the contrary, by now my mind might fill in entire parts if that have somehow been omitted...who will tell?

It's cool to hear other artists' renditions of songs that I grew up with, especially if the bands in question are pretty good to begin with.

Most of the tracks on this tribute are good, be they played by Hammerfall or Six Feet Under or Iced Earth or Helloween. Pretty Maids don't do "Hard Luck Woman" justice, I think, and Doro's "Only You" is repetitive and decidedly wimpy. "Parasite" by Anthrax was old and familiar, as was Six Feet Under's "Machine Head" (though not quite that old). Galactic Cowboys use their trademark harmonies in the quieter bits of "I Want You", Maryslim provide "Comin' Home" with a Ramones touch and Bathory created a very cool, moody version of "Black Diamond". The Melvins make "Goin' Blind" sound even sadder than the original, and Hypocrisy sound utterly not like Hypocrisy with their clean-vocal version of "Strange Ways".

If you were - or are - into Kiss, there's a whole lot of albums that you shouldn't buy until you've got "A Tribute to the Creatures of the Night".



Written June 2003


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