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It's 1999 and Dwell Records couldn't wait to release another IRON MAIDEN tribute, the first one sold so well. That is more of a testimony to the power of Iron Maiden and their early albums than Dwell's first tribute, A CALL TO IRONS. The first tribute did have some outstanding covers though, which sent me to the stores fruitlessly searching for bands like ANGEL CORPSE and ABSU (Can somebody please get these bands some decent distribution?).
One of my biggest gripes with the first Tribute, and the reason I gave it such a low score (a just barely earned 3 Perplex Skulls), had far less to do with the bands presented than the crappy way Dwell Record's treated them.
Inside the cover, the bands were simply listed - Boom! That's it! No line up or contact or anything telling me about the bands. Were these recorded specifically for the tribute? Were these old covers the bands had done years before? Is the band's line up - right now - the same as when they recorded the song? It was a real shitty thing to do since most of the bands on that first tribute were/are strugglers who lacked good distribution or even representation. How about a little credit where its due, Huh?
For this second tribute album, A CALL TO IRONS 2, Dwell Records got it right. They listed, not just the bands, but their individual members as well, even including e-mails and websites where applicable so fans wowed could contact these bands for info on their stuff. If you haven't listened to the first tribute, its really worth it, though it can be frustrating finding more music from those bands.
So let's see what we got in the A CALL TO IRONS 2 toybox this time.
From the album THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST comes ENGRAVE's version of Invaders. This song is a good beginning to this disk. While not as good as the original, Emilio Marquez' Drumwork is impressive and while Singer Robert Cardenas goes for the trendy gutter growl vocals, he keeps the words coherent. IRON MAIDEN was once described as the thinking man's metal and for good reason. Losing the words in a coughing hack of undecipherable vocals is always a dead loss.
STEEL PROPHET makes a good cover of Gangland (NUMBER OF THE BEAST). The problem I have with this cover is the same one I had with STEEL PROPHET off the first A CALL TO IRONS. Just as the lead singer mimic'd Paul Di' Anno's vocals for the song Iron Maiden, so Rick Mythiasin does an almost perfect imitation of Bruce Dickinson. The rest of the band is content to merely copy the original song note for note. While I recognize that this is not an easy thing to do, neither is it creative. If I wanted to hear Iron Maiden note for note, I'd buy a freakin' Iron Maiden album! NEXT!
Next up is FROM THE DEPTHS which does a totally high intensity version of Iron Maiden (IRON MAIDEN's 1st album). If anything, this one is faster and more ripping than the original version. Considering that this song was Iron Maiden at its youngest and most raw, this is really saying something. Keep an eye out for this band! Outstanding version!
TERROR keeps up the pace with a screamingly good cover of Total Eclipse (B-side of RUN TO THE HILLS). What is special about this song is that is hasn't been heard enough by the majority of Maiden fans (unless you are a completest like me). This is an altogether worthy cover of a Maiden song that hasn't got near enough attention.
ACHERON drops the ball on their cover of Wrathchild (KILLERS). There is nothing fresh or original to this song, least of all the trendy vocal posing of lead singer Rev. Vincent Crowley. Kinda sad because as soon as I saw his picture I was really hoping that they would do a kick ass song. Oh well, just because you look as cool as me doesn't mean you ARE as cool as me.* NEXT!
POSSESSION grabs that ol' ball and kicks it clear across the field with Revelations (PIECE OF MIND)! Its so good that I'm listening to it again as I write this review! GODDAMN WOW, MAN! If this band doesn't love Maiden, then they must hate them so much that they wanted to kick their ass on their own song. Whatever the case may be, this band is unmerciful!
Russ Klimczak of ION VEIN has the kind of crying vocals that Geoff Tate of QUEENSRYCHE possesses. While both Bruce Dickenson and Tate have similar range (before Bruce blew his voice out), that almost sobbing voice ruined for me what sounded like an otherwise good cover of Killers (KILLERS). Considering that the song is from the viewpoint of both witness as well as murderer, the vocal stylings here seem way out of place.
There is probably no better example of the differences I'm describing than the very next song on the disc, courtesy of MYSTIC FORCE with their version of Where Eagles Dare (PIECE OF MIND). King Fowley has the high pitch comparable to both Tate and Dickinson, but never allows his voice to lapse into crying punctuation at the end of every verse. MYSTIC FORCE does an adequate job with this song, but there is better to be found.
For example, DECEASED hits hard with 2 Minutes to Midnight (POWERSLAVE) and tears a huge hole in the feel of this album, staking their own territory apart from the mundanes. Like the other standouts on this disk, the entire group is a full driving force. Another excellent band to look for.
OCTOBER 31 stands just as tall with their version of Public Enema Number One (NO PRAYER FOR THE DYING). While this band doesn't try to tackle IM at their lean and hungriest, their version is even better than the original!
PROTOTYPE gives us an outstanding 3 in a row with their razor sharp version of Sea Of Madness (SOMEWHERE IN TIME). This band gives this song the respect it deserves. The musical interlude is cool enough that I only wish it had gone on longer.
For me, DIESEL MACHINE's Children Of The Damned was a tough call. This isn't really a slam against the band since the song is one of my least favorite Iron Maiden tunes and the least of the songs on IM's NUMBER OF THE BEAST. Any Maiden fan who may like this tune knows that the song doesn't really find itself until about halfway through when the drums take over and the maudlin opera stuff stops. DIESEL MACHINE doesn't disappoint here as they take that midway point and really run with it. I only wish I could have heard this band on a better IM song.
Another adequate cover here, this time by ABATTOIR doing Sanctuary (IRON MAIDEN). The song rocks as it was truly written and there is nothing wrong with the cover except for the most important thing that a cover band should do on a tribute: Make The Song Uniquely Theirs! This cover is merely a copy of a song that can stand on its own just as well without any ABBATTOIR.
While I found only six stand outs out of 13 songs on this album (FROM THE DEPTHS, TERROR, POSSESSION, DECEASED, OCTOBER 31, and PROTOTYPE), nearly all the others (with one exception) did adequate covers which shouldn't make you go lunging for the skip button. Like the first A CALL TO IRONS, A CALL TO IRONS 2 is worth getting. Though it still gets 3 Perplex Skulls, they are well deserved this time and the album stands entirely on its own merits.
This review copyright 1999 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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