Whenever a band announces they are doing an album full of covers I always have mixed emotions. One the one hand part of me is excited to see what direction they will go with them. On the other, I worry that there is a potential for some absolute butchering of rock and roll classics. Well, I am happy to report that HEAVEN BELOW totally sidestep that landmine and they stick the landing over and over. Led by lead singer/guitarist Patrick Kennison, what we get on Rest In Pieces: A tribute to the Departed is 12 songs that truly pay homage to the originals while putting their own spin on things. Alongside him guitarist Nikki Stringfield, bassist John Younger, and drummer Shad Wilhelm absolutely shine on with their parts.
By the way, this is only Part One of my album review(s). The second part, where we cover The Missing Pieces will come along shortly. But for now, let’s dig in here, shall we? Right away, the fast and hard version of QUEEN’S “We Will Rock You” kicks you in the balls and demands you wake the fuck up. On the other side of that coin the beautiful and poignant piano rendition of “Down In a Hole” from ALICE IN CHAINS had me in tears at my desk at work when I first heard it. The vocal harmonies between Kennison and Stringfield are gorgeous, and it definitely tugged at my heartstrings. A great way to honor a fallen legend in Layne Staley. “Motor Medley” is fucking balls to the wall from beginning to end and might have you wanting to break everything!
The biggest takeaway for me however, is the absolutely fantastic rendition of JOHNNY CASH’S instant classic “Ain’t No Grave.” It’s a favorite of mine, and hearing this group not only do it justice, but knock it out of the park had me smiling ear to ear. This is one of those tunes I have to play six or seven times before moving on. And since we’re playing the crying game, go ahead and listen to AUDIOSLAVE’S “Like a Stone” without tearing up…I dare you. If you don’t, you’re probably a robot. Or dead inside. R.I.P. Chris Cornell. You are missed every single day. Patrick sings with a conviction that is both moving and beautiful, and I hope that up there in Rock and Roll Heaven you hear it and it makes you smile.
Did you really think I was gonna talk about this record without mentioning two of the best tracks from favorite artists in “Hungry For Heaven” (DIO, duh!) and “Don’t Change” (INXS)? Holy Hell, I cannot love both of these versions enough, that’s all I know. And as an added treat, here comes “Somebody Put Something In My Drink” from THE RAMONES? Fuck me running, this is the tits! Hey man, when all is said and done I can honestly say HEAVEN BELOW did an excellent job with this one. A great selection of songs, emphatic deliveries, and a band that is having a great time while paying homage to heroes we’ve lost is a recipe for greatness. Rest in Pieces: A Tribute to the Departed is out now everywhere, so go get yours now!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Ain’t No Grave”, “Down In a Hole”, “Like a Stone”, “Hungry For Heaven”, “Motor Medley”