|Posted by THE DUKE on August 11, 2012 at 10:20 PM|
Slander- Get ‘Em Slandered
Entries in the journal have been quite sparse as of late. Sometimes, I just need to come across something that inspires me to write. Well, an impetus came by way of a brand new covers EP by NWOBHM stalwart Slander. There have been some changes in Slander camp as of late. Original guitarist Andy Saxon-Lamb and drummer Andy Edwards are now joined by newcomers Pete Hewitt on bass and new vocalist Simon Staples to give the band a proverbial shot in the arm. The band plans to release a follow up to their legendary “Careless Talk Costs Lives” demo compilation. However, their second release will occur in the near future. Until then, the band has prepared an appetizer to satiate fans until their second release will be unveiled to the masses.
This appetizer that Slander serves is like the best plate of hot wings found in a Buffalo bar. The cover tracks are very tasty renditions of classic songs by bands from all over the globe. But enough of the cheesy food references, let's get down to business. The first thing that struck me about this release was the variety of bands covered in a mini album. The album samples music by legendary bands from the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany. The bands covered on the EP include Diamond Head, Judas Priest, and Maiden, while others sampled include Kiss, Anthrax, and Scorpions. Slander puts their own stamp on these classics. There is an energy present in each cover tune that in many cases exceeds the original recordings of these same songs.
I’m going stray from what I regularly do in the journal by commenting on each of the six tracks contained on this EP. The first song that I heard was a cover of Diamond Head’s “Am I Evil?” I appreciate Slander’s treatment of this song. They stay true to the original version by keeping the introduction and guitar solo intact. It was almost as though this song was recorded live, and Slander didn’t use an intro. tape like Diamond Head had done for years when playing it live. Also, the Slander version is heavier than the original. It is much more similar to the Metallica cover of the same song. It is long, epic, and very well executed.
The second song that I’m discussing is Judas Priest’s “Diamonds and Rust.” At first, I was a little skeptical about covering this song, mostly because I have no appreciation for Joan Baez’s music. I love the "Sin After Sin" album, but it has always been hard for me to listen to the Priest version due to a distaste for Baez. However, after a slow build up, the track picks up the pace and gallops nicely. Next up is Kiss’ “Detroit Rock City.” It is a nice addition to this covers disc. I grew up listening to Kiss on 8-track tape, and I found the Slander version particularly satisfying for this reason. The band’s cover of Scorpions’ “The Zoo” is a nice choice. Simon Staples’ voice suits Klaus Meine very well. The cover version also has a stomp to it that was only hinted at on the original version. Some of it may be due to a different production, but it seems that Slander has deliberately tried to augment the stomp that accompanies the song’s central riff.
Finally, I saved my favorite two cover versions to discuss last. Slander’s versions of Iron Maiden’s “Hallowed Be Thy Name,” and Anthrax’s “Madhouse” really stand out. If there were any doubts about Simon Staple’s range, they are squelched when listening to “Hallowed Be Thy Name.” When I first recognized what song was being covered (it only took about 5 seconds), I waited to see how Staples would handle carrying the note when singing “Running Low.” I was very impressed at his ability to sustain his voice on that part of the song. Staple’s voice is a little more nasal that Dickinson’s, but no less powerful. The Anthrax cover I loved probably more than any of the others. I think it is mostly because it is a less obvious choice for a band so heavily steeped in the NWOBHM. The energy on it is also just so infectious. On this song, I think Slander went outside the box, which really makes for a satisfying listening experience. There is one last thing that I think needs to be mentioned. This goes outside the music and pertains to the cover art. The cover art on this disc truly stands out. It depicts the man running on the cover of the "Careless Talk" album, but in a different scenario. This time the same gentleman is perched atop the Empire State building warding off airplanes in an obvious homage to King Kong. I love it, and think it suits the tunes contained therein very well. This man with the t-shirt and jean jacket has become Slander's mascot of sorts similar to Iron Maiden's Eddie. I applaud both this concept and its execution. The end results are outstanding.
I think most people know from reading previous entries in my journal that my love for this band goes beyond that of the casual fan. I consider myself an avid supporter of the cause. For a long time now, Slander has been toiling away in near obscurity. They are well know as a cult band to those metal people who are “in the know ,“ but deserve much more than that. I think that the Stormspell release reminded the metal community as to just how good this band was, and with the second disc of newly recorded tracks, still is. This EP builds on that momentum, and serves as an affective introduction to the second album, which is currently being worked on. Until it is released, do yourself a favor and purchase this killer covers disc at firstname.lastname@example.org. It was pressed in very limited quantities, and probably will not be in circulation long. Join the cause, and show your support.