Along with Metal Blade Records, Roadrunner Records, Nuclear Blast Records and Earache Records, Century Media Records rounds out the “big five” of metal indie labels. This group essentially brought the metal underground to a global audience and maintained a solid lineup of artists that helped shape heavy metal as we know it today. In celebration of its twenty-year anniversary, Century Media Records has done something unique and original. Since they already compiled a box set of tracks from its past for its tenth anniversary, CENTURY MEDIA – COVERING 20 YEARS OF EXTREMES takes songs from the label’s rich history and has other bands currently on its roster cover them. Some have been heard before on various artists’ releases but most are new and unreleased, so fans of both the original artists and the artists who have reworked the songs will find plenty of interesting material here.
Like most cover versions, sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. First the good…
Arch Enemy really takes Dream Evil’s “The Book of Heavy Metal” and makes it their own by turning a tongue-in-cheek power metal anthem and twisting it into a vicious thrash assault. Angela Gossow’s vocals are as demonic-sounding as ever (listen to hear wrap her venomous pipes around Snowy Shaw’s lyrics) rendering Arch Enemy’s version nearly unrecognizable to the original. Wolf take on Moonspell’s “Alma Mater” and the high-pitched power metal vocal style of Niklas Stålvind adds a different angle to Fernando Ribeiro’s dark, baritone-sung original. Brand New Sin turn in a faithful cover of Iced Earth’s “Watching Over Me” as (now ex-) vocalist Joe Altier does his best Matt Barlow impression. Likewise, Greek metal gods Firewind do little to reinvent Nevermore’s “Believe In Nothing” but that song is so strong, it would be difficult to improve upon. Fans of Vancouver’s Zimmers Hole should take note of the radical step from their frantic, comic take on the genre by wading through Old Man’s Child’s “Doommaker” and really doing a great job.
On the negative side, Finnish gothic/forest metal newbies Kivimetsän Druidi messes with The Gathering’s “Leaves” and the appallingly bad vocals destroy everything, leaving Anneke van Giersbergen every right to litigation. Others like The Agonist’s version of Dark Tranquillity’s “Monochromatic Stains” and Cryptopsy putting its stamp on Strapping Young Lad’s “Oh My Fucking God” are so instantly forgettable that they can be classified as “filler” at best. The absolute low-point, though, is the collaboration between Manntis and In This Moment’s Maria Brink on Lacuna Coil’s “Heaven’s A Lie.” Whoever green-lighted a metalcore version of an electro-Goth hit should be forced to endure the merciless of tortures.
If nothing else, CENTURY MEDIA – COVERING 20 YEARS OF EXTREMES serves as a great marketing tool for people who will seek out the original versions of the songs here or get turned on to the newer acts. Buoyed by the marquee names of Shadows Fall, Arch Enemy and Lacuna Coil, it won’t take much to get people to take notice of this collection but it certainly is a mixed bag, as is to be expected. The lineup here runs the gamut from early dwellers like Asphyx and long-forgotten acts like Stampin’ Ground to new-school thrashers Warbringer and metalcore upstarts The Agonist, so there are a great many styles and interpretations to wade through in well over two hours of music. Century Media Records gets a big “thumbs up” for originality, though, by letting its artists stretch a little and pay homage to those who helped put its name on the map.
1. ARCH ENEMY covering DREAM EVIL's "The Book of Heavy Metal"
2. DARK TRANQUILLITY covering SENTENCED's "Broken"
3. HEAVEN SHALL BURN covering TIAMAT's "Whatever That Hurts"
4. SHADOWS FALL covering ONLY LIVING WITNESS's "December"
5. BRAND NEW SIN covering ICED EARTH's "Watching Over Me"
6. WOLF covering MOONSPELL's "Alma Mater"
7. MERCENARY covering ARCH ENEMY's "Burning Angel"
8. GOD FORBID covering MERAUDER's "Master Killer"
9. WARBRINGER covering UNLEASHED's "Execute Them All"
10. GRAVE covering ASPHYX's "Vermin"
11. ARCHITECTS covering STAMPIN' GROUND's "Officer Down"
12. NAPALM DEATH covering DESPAIR's "Outconditioned"
13. KRISIUN covering DEMOLITION HAMMER's "Human Dissection"
14. CRYPTOPSY covering STRAPPING YOUNG LAD's "Oh My Fucking God"
15. MAROON covering SAMAEL's "Baphomet's Throne"
16. WATCH THEM DIE covering BLOODBATH's "Breeding Death"
1. FIREWIND covering NEVERMORE's "Believe In Nothing"
2. DREAM EVIL covering ARCH ENEMY's "Let The Killing Begin"
3. FEAR MY THOUGHTS covering HEAVEN SHALL BURN's "The Weapon They Fear"
4. THE AGONIST covering DARK TRANQUILLITY's "Monochromatic Stains"
5. THE FORSAKEN covering GRAVE's "You'll Never See"
6. DEVIAN covering MORGOTH's "Isolated"
7. HEAVEN SHALL BURN covering MERAUDER's "Downfall of Christ"
8. ABORTED covering TURMOIL's "Playing Dead"
9. TERROR covering SUBZERO's "Boxed In"
10. NAPALM DEATH covering HELLHAMMER's "Messiah"
11. ASPHYX covering CELTIC FROST's "Os Abysmi Vel Daath"
12. ZIMMERS HOLE covering OLD MAN'S CHILD's "Doommaker"
13. FU MANCHU covering PENANCE's "Words To Live By"
14. MANNTIS (feat. IN THIS MOMENT) covering LACUNA COIL's "Heaven's A Lie"
15. KIVIMETSÄN DRUIDI covering THE GATHERING's "Leaves"
16. INTRONAUT covering EYEHATEGOD's "Dixie Whiskey"