I have to admit to being a pretty big fan of cover albums. It’s always interesting to me to hear a band pay tribute to their influences, and to just cut loose and have a little fun. Sometimes they turn out great, sometimes not so much. I would say that this particular one falls somewhere in between.
The one thing you can say about this album is that it incorporates a pretty diverse array of artists. However, this is both good and bad. There are places where the band excels, especially on the Dio Sabbath tune “Neon Knights” (which is simply tailor made for Tate’s vocals), and on Pink Floyd’s “Welcome to the Machine”, which retains all of the creepy grandiosity of the original.
However, there are also songs like the O’Jays’ “For the Love of Money” and Crosby, Stills, and Nash’s “Almost Cut My Hair” that just really didn’t fit with the band’s style or Geoff Tate’s vocals. Also, I nearly groaned in protest when I saw Buffalo Sprigfield’s “For What It’s Worth” was included on here, not that I have anything against the song, but it’s already been done to death. Ozzy and Rush both already did this song on their own cover albums, and neither really brought anything new to the original. However, this particular version is done a bit different from the original. It’s not amazing or anything, but at least they sort of made it their own.
In between, the rest is pretty decent. The Police’s “Synchronicity II” and Peter Gabriel’s “Red Rain” are both done well, and the band takes some interesting ventures outside of the norm with “Odissea” and “Heaven On Their Minds”, which are reverent and well-accomplished nods to Tate’s background in opera and broadway, respectively. If I had to pick a favorite here, I’d say that Queen’s “Innuendo” is arguably the standout. This is an insanely difficult song to recreate, but the band never misses a step, and Tate does the late great Freddie Mercury justice like few people could.
The album ends with a live cover of U2’s “Bullet the Blue Sky”, which is pretty cool, but kind of goes on for too long. This is one of my favorite U2 songs, and the band rocks it for sure, but I don’t know, I would have preferred a studio recording to this long rambling version.
Overall, not a bad album. Not a must-have by any means, but it’s a fun buy if you like covers.