Heaven Below is a band that quite frankly I should have written about a long time ago. I hope this makes up for my previous oversight. Patrick Kennison (vocals, guitar), Jesse Billson (guitar), John Younger (bass), and Shad Wilhelm (drums, percussion) are a hellacious four-piece that play hard-nosed, kickass rock and fuckin’ roll songs that will punch you in the face, then help you back up and buy you a shot. There’s no other way I can describe them. They’ve got a seriously killer catalog that you should check out, guys. But that’s not why I’ve called you here. I’m here to talk about their just released EP Sleeping Giants. “What’s that?” you say? Glad you asked. It is a COVERS EP.
Now, no one loves these more than me, and we’ve been lucky enough to get some great ones last couple of years from the likes of Anthrax, Halestorm, and Adrenaline Mob. Well, I am very, very happy to report that this one is every bit as good as those, and at times better. You heard me. I mentioned earlier that this band plays straightforward rock music that can be a lot of fun. But what I, and I assume others didn’t know is that Heaven Below are heavily influenced by some giants if you will that have left some big-ass footprints in the musical landscape.
We start with “Pull Me Under” from Dream Theater. “That’s madness!” you say, and normally I’d be right there with you, signing their commitment papers, but these guys nail it perfectly. And on top of that, they follow it up with “Subdivisions” from Rush!! I have been listening to this track nonstop since last week and I am absolutely floored by how awesome it is. So, clearly Mr. Kennison and company have chops…BIG brass ones. Plus, as an added bonus they got the one and only William Shatner to speak the “Subdivisions” part on it. Anyone who can do that gets 100 bonus points for that alone in my book.
A most unconventional pick is next in Judas Priest’s “Out In the Cold”, a song that has long divided the Priest faithful. Me personally, I love it; always have, always will. Now, Judas Priest is a band I hold sacred, and anyone who fucks up one of their songs is on my list. Heaven Below not only sidestep that landmine, they bring a rawness and intensity to it without bastardizing the song itself. Well done, boys! Bassist John takes over the lead vocals for “Losers and Winners” from Accept’s landmark Balls to the Wall album. I’m a big Accept fan and this version more than does it justice, giving it just a hint of punk to kick it in the ass a bit.
So overall was I happy with Sleeping Giants? You bet your fucking ass I was!! And if I have my way Heaven Below will play all four of these songs on their next tour stop here in Dallas. Pick this one up; it’s the perfect driving album.
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM