Various Artists Thriller: A Metal Tribute To Michael Jackson
Released: 2013, Deadline
I always get a kick out of these novelty albums. I call them novelty because they are fun and not really intended to be taken seriously. There have been a number of these albums across the spectrum over the years ranging from a Bluegrass Tribute to Van Halen, a Frank Sinatra tribute album, a Pat Boone doing Metal covers and a pair of Abba tributes... the list goes on. Now we can add the king of pop, (or is it king of poop?) Michael Jackson to the long list of novelty tribute albums.
THRILLER-A METAL TRIBUTE TO MICHAEL JACKSON is not the best package I have seen. It is a slim-line, digi-pak with no frills, no booklet, no pictures, just a simple list of credits. Released late in 2013, the 13-track album covers most of Michael Jackson’s big hits. Overall it is not that heavy. Most of the artists appearing on the covers are melodic Metal guys, with perhaps Chuck Billy of Testament being the biggest name on the tribute. There is certainly a very heavy, industrial/pop tone to the songs. It was great to hear past and present members of Kiss, Queensrcyhe, Iron Maiden, Whitesnake and Motorhead on the tribute. You know how these things work. Bob Kulick lays down the bass and guitar, Brett Chasson does the drums then everyone mails in their vocals or guitar parts from around the world and it is put together like Dr. Frankenstein and a monster is born!
I’m not really familiar with some of the songs because I’m not a Michael Jackson fan but I do recognize eight of the thirteen cuts. There are any number of other Michael Jackson’s songs that could have been included on the Tribute to make it a little cooler Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s version of ‘Beat It’ for example. I was disappointed by the number of kinda lame non-Metal people included on a ‘Metal’ tribute such artists from Nonpoint, Asking Alexandria, Alien Ant Farm and Sevendust. Highlights for me are the versions of ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’ with Angelo from Fishbone on vocals and underrated Power Metal band Icarus with doing a version of a song I don’t know called, ‘They Don’t Care About Us’. The center-piece and lead off track is of course Chuck Billy tearing up ‘Thriller’ which could only be improved if they had Alice Cooper doing the narration that was done by Vincent Price on the original version 30 years ago.
All in all it was a good attempt. I gave it an average rating because of the poor presentation and the non-Metal people involved and the fact I’m not a fan of the source material. In my home, when news broke of Jackson’s death no tears were shed I can tell you! There might have even been a beer or two opened in celebration actually. However, THRILLER is extremely well done musically and even the lamest pop songs can be improved given the Metal treatment. If I have to listen to Michael Jackson it might as well be this. It’s fun, it’s loose and even if you have a passing interest in these off-shoot, novelty tribute albums this is worth getting.
1. Thriller - Chuck Billy (Testament)
2. Man In The Mirror - Danny Worsnop (Asking Alexandria) & Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big)
3. The Way You Make Me Feel - Angelo Moore (Fishbone), Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake), & Rudy Sarzo (Queensrÿche)
4. Black Or White - Lajon Witherspoon (Sevendust), Bruce Kulick (ex-KISS), & Tony Franklin (The Firm)
5. Beat It - Priya Panda (Diemonds) & Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (Guns N’ Roses)
6. Billy Jean - Corey Glover (Living Colour) & Phil Campbell (Motörhead)
7. Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground) - Elias Soriano (Nonpoint)
8. Rock With You - Doug Pinnick (King’s X)
9. Dirty Diana - Chris Jericho (Fozzy)
10. Bad - Paul Dianno (ex-Iron Maiden) & Craig Goldy (Dio)
11. They Don’t Care About Us - Icarus Witch
12. Never Can Say Goodbye - Lonnie Jordan (War)
13. Smooth Criminal - Alien Ant Farm