Reviewed: October, 2019
Released: 2019, Indie
Generally, I’m extremely tolerant and accepting of all the myriad quirky Metal off-shoots, joke bands, side projects, novelty acts, covers albums; all the Gwars and Hevisauruses off the world, celtic tributes to Metallica, monks singing Black Sabbath, a cappella bands, lullaby Metal, Christmas Metal operas…it’s all bizarre and fun and a pleasant enough distraction. However sometimes, enough is enough. I think for me this album finally crossed the line between weird, goofy fun and skirting into really lame territory.
A Hero For The world is a two-person project featuring Louie Ryan from the Phillipines on vocals and Jacob Kassgaard from Sweden doing everything else. This is one of those seemingly studio-only projects, kind of like Pellek. They have churned eight long albums in six years, all with some sort of theatrical/opera/movie theme. I like the band, I have many of their albums, their most recent releases, WEST TO EAST PART II-SPACE RANGER also from early 2019, is really solid. This newest experiment is not so solid.
The album in question is called THE LION KING ROCK OPERA. Yes…that Lion King. The Disney’s animated children’s movie from 1994. Seriously. This is an album of cover versions of songs from the sound track of a children’s cartoon. This is a new low, even for A Hero For The World.
It’s not the bands ‘fault’ however they do need to take responsibility for making such a poor choice to re-interpret the songs that at their core, fundamentally suck. It’s not A Hero For The World’s fault that the songs are generic corporate crap, that blame lies with Disney Corporation and the faceless, nameless army of cubicle dwelling, song-writers.
I’ve heard many, many other crappy, pop, soundtrack-type songs that have been salvaged by being ‘metalized’, namely, adding power, speed, aggression and/or a comedic element, for example Xentrix’s cover of Ghostbusters or Pathfinders version of Cher’s song, ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’, but this album just doesn’t work. As a side note bands like Children Of Bodom have mastered taking crap songs by pop artists by Eddie Murphy and Britney Spears and making them at least fun and interesting. This falls way below that benchmark. Adding a few crunchy guitar lines and a few 80’s Casio keyboard lines and a little bit of double-kick drum to already horrible songs is not enough to redeem the terribly flawed source material.
What’s worse is that there are multiple interpretations of these songs; acoustic versions, keyboards versions and redundant songs like ‘Circle Of Life’ with two versions (Heavy Metal version and Power Metal version) that sound virtually identical. I’d say the only high point is a decent reworking of the song ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’ originally a horrible saccharine ballad by Elton John which gets turned into a double-kick driven, Power Metal version. This whole 20-song, 85 minute (!) horse-pill of an album could have been reduced to this one song as a funny, one-time joke song added as a Japanese bonus-track…and it would have been a brilliant one-time, novelty song. As is stands the whole idea got stretched into this monstrosity. I suppose credit, where credit is due for trying something new, but THE LION KING ROCK OPERA fails in execution due to the terrible source material.
Like any lion in real life…approach this album with extreme caution or you might get mangled.
Jacob Kaasgaard-Vocals, Keyboards
1. Circle of Life (Power Metal Version)
2. I Just Can’t Wait to Be King
5.Shadowland / King of Pride Rock
6.The Lion Sleeps Tonight
8.Can You Feel the Love Tonight (Power Metal Version)
9.We Are One
10.Spirit (Epic Piano Version)
11.Shadowland / King of Pride Rock (Instrumental Version)
12.Circle of Life (Epic Acoustic Version)
13.Can You Feel the Love Tonight (Rock Ballad Version)
14.We Are One (Acoustic Version)
15.The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Acoustic Version)
16.Shadowland / King of Pride Rock (Acoustic Version)
17.Love Will Find a Way (Keyboard Solo Version)
18.Circle of Life (Piano Acoustic Version)
19.This Land (Instrumental)
20.Under the Stars (Instrumental)
21.Circle of Life (Heavy Metal Version)