Cover albums seem to be the latest fad in Metal, SIX FEET UNDER had started the whole trend and more and more bands seem to feel the need to express their gratitude to their influences and Swedish Power Metal stalwarts HAMMERFALL also are following down this road, offering us their “Masterpieces” album, which contains a collection of all the different cover versions they have released so far (be it on regular releases, as bonus tracks or off tribute albums) plus three brand new ones. So argue about the sense a release like this makes, but let me tell you one thing, it is entertaining and they have covered a whole bunch of bands the young Metalheads never even have heard the name of, so that alone already makes it worth it, no?
And it is their choice of cover tracks that makes “Masterpieces” so entertaining, because it shows that the band has stayed true to their hearts by mostly concentrating on the good old Eighties when picking the bands, so basically when many older Metalheads started to love this genre, such as myself (yes, I just called myself “older”!). Obviously it doesn’t make it easy for the reviewer to review a release like this, because of the variety in different sounds and styles, so I guess I will point out the highs and lows for easy reference. STORMWITCH’s “Ravenlord” always has been one of my favourites from the German band and even as cover version the song has not lost any of its magic, which lurks in the mystic atmosphere, the catchy rhythms and all. Also PICTURE’s “Eternal Dark” is one of my all time faves (and it still is a shame that not more people know about these Dutchies! And PRETTY MAIDS’ “Back To Back”, dynamic, fast, catchy, need I say more?
You know what, this reads pretty damn positive so far and I must say that this is very enjoyable front to back, because it lets us relive the glories of the Eighties and the gentlemen definitely know how to pick them, so to say. How can you not hear “Man On The Silver Mountain”, “Head Over Heels” (with Udo, btw), “Breaking The Law” or “Youth Gone Wild” and not go into a frenzy? One song I just have to mention specially and that is the Roger Pontare cover “När Vindarna Viskar Mitt Namn” (“And The Winds Whisper My Name”), which caught me by immediate surprise. Many, many years back the Swedish singer had participated in the Eurovision Song Contest (yes, the one that LORDI won) and I had loved the song and when I heard it in its original here, I loved it to and only later on found out that this actually was the same song!
Some people might have grown weary of the sheer amount of releases with the HAMMERFALL on them, but as long as the quality is as good as this here, I don’t care. This is a true tribute to the 80s and it feels heartfelt, I support this CD!
(Online September 1, 2008)