Many a metal band has attempted to cover a pop song over the years, and all too often they end up simply recording a gimmicky joke song with harsh vocals, that may serve as a laugh due to the comical juxtaposition of styles, but is doomed to never be listened to again. Children of Bodom’s cover of the Britney Spears hit Oops I Did It Again is a good example of this.
However, European power metal has long been the cheesiest, silliest, most vocally driven form of metal, making Italian quartet Arthemis’s latest EP a more promising proposition, as a power metal band covering pop songs is a concept that may just provide something that is musically interesting. The fact that it is freely downloadable from the band’s website is also a massive plus for the more financially restricted of us, who may not want to shell out cash for some joke cover songs.
Instrumentally, Pop Up Your Ass (the title being an allusion to the legendary Metallica demo Metal Up Your Ass) is fantastic. Full on metal instrumentation with blazing guitar solos and pounding double bass drumming heightens the music whilst never seeming out of place. If I hadn’t have known this was a covers album, I probably would have just thought of it as a typical German inspired power metal album à la Helloween and Edguy.
Now, whilst I consider my knowledge of all things involving heavy guitars to be impressively comprehensive, I live in my own musical bubble, under a rock on the moon, and, as such, I had never even heard some of the songs being covered here. Shocking, I know. So, I went on YouTube to do some research, and I can now categorically confirm that if Britney Spears wasn’t in a state of undress for the entirety of Womanizer, I wouldn’t have got to the end of the song. The Arthemis version is a definite improvement, but is still one of the weaker songs, mainly because the source material is so poor, but also because the song doesn’t make the transition to metal as easily as the others.
My introduction to Lady GaGa was a slightly better experience, and although I can’t say I really like the original Paparazzi very much either, no one can deny the absolutely massive hook in the chorus. The vocals in the cover sound a bit strained in comparison, due to it being sung by a hairy man without any layering or auto tuning, but it’s a great attempt, and his Italian accent definitely gives a sense of naturality to the chorus. It does make me wonder what could have been achieved if a singer of a calibre as high as Bruce Dickinson or Tobias Sammet tried such a thing. In any case, Paparazzi is one of the best songs on offer here.
The covers of Survivor by Destiny’s Child and Don’t Stop The Music by Rianna are both fantastic as well, the latter having a semi-thrash riff that totally transforms the song in a way you wouldn’t expect, but it really works. I’m also glad that they chose not to cover Umbrella, as no amount of comedy or metal will ever make me want to hear that massively overplayed piece of crap again.
Unfortunately, a ropey version of Michael Jackson’s Bad proves to be the worst cover on here, sounding far too clunky in comparison to the slick original. They clearly tried to do something very different to the original here, and to some extent it does work as an okay stand alone song, but with the original fresh in my ears, I just can’t stand to listen to the cover.
I’m not going to give this album a typical numbered rating, as it seems a bit pointless given that it’s a short collection of humorous cover songs that you can download for free. So I’ll end with this: if you’re one of those pretentious music fans that won’t listen to any music unless it’s deep and meaningful, you should avoid this like the plague. If, however, you don’t mind your music being fun, or spending a few minutes of your time downloading and listening to these metalized pop songs, they may well put a smile on your face. Just don’t blame me when you can’t get them out of your head.
Download the tracks here: http://www.arthemismusic.com/downloads/