Released: 2007, SPV
Covers albums are a sketchy idea at the best of times. While most fans enjoy a cover song here and there, a whole album of covers is usually met with a lukewarm reaction at best. That’s probably because they usually suck (Six Feet Under’s two attempts being the most glaring examples). Or, it’s because they are obvious cash-grabs to keep a band’s name active while they work on their next “true” album.
I don’t know if that’s the case here with guitar-hero and long-time metal veteran Axel Rudi Pell, but I’m guessing it is. Mr. Pell’s last album, MYSTICA was a powerful slab of hard rock/metal taken into the stratosphere by Johnny Gioeli’s excellent vocals. A year later and the band is presenting us with some of Axel’s favourite songs from years past. The catch? They’re not necessarily metal or even hard rock songs. Seriously, take a gander over the track list and see how many metal songs there are (my count is at four – “Love Gun” is out because they do an acoustic version). A bit grim, no? Making matters worse is the fact that there are some truly horrible songs chosen, regardless of genre. Seriously guys, Phil Collins and Michael Bolton?
OK, so the track list leaves something to be desired, but not all is lost. The band’s cover of Riot’s “Warrior” is equally as ripping as the original. Free’s “Heartbreaker” is a good bluesy dirge, and their run through of Montrose’s fun “Rock the Nation” is entertaining. “Love Gun” is OK too, despite the emasculation.
Beyond those songs though, it’s a different story. The non-metal originals sucked when they were made, and they still suck now. “Stone” and “Like a Child Again” are passable ballads, but the cover of the immortal “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is just plain bad.
Sadly, DIAMONDS UNLOCKED is yet another in a long line of failed covers albums. Axel is a talented guitarist with a great band and at this point they should stick to their own material.