Reviewed: February 2022
Released: 2022, So Cal Records / Alliance Entertainment
Reviewer: Kat Knite
In early 2020, drummer Joel Maitoza decided to make a collaborative release featuring other artists and his close friends in the wake of the changing world. He would stay a constant as the drummer on the songs, the others joining on their respective instruments throughout. The album was fittingly titled, Quarantine Covers, and is loaded with tracks most of us have heard and loved through the years. The guys on this project are seasoned musicians, Joel himself previously a member of 24-7 Spyz, Seventrain, and Shockhead. Each contributing member was well equipped to take on these iconic songs and make them their own. Creativity and resources abound, the group of musicians evidently had a blast getting the project made, and on January 1st, 2022, they brought the New Year in with a bang.
Joel on the album:
“When the pandemic hit, bands stopped touring and the world shut down. I decided to contact some musicians I’ve always wanted to work with and record an album of cover tunes with a hard rock/metal vibe. The songs are some “hand-picked” favorites of mine that I thought everyone involved could have some fun with and the fans would enjoy hearing. It all started releasing two videos in 2020 featuring Last in Line/Lynch Mob vocalist Andrew Freeman and it just took off from there. I recorded the drum tracks in the studio by myself without any music, just a click track and the arrangement in my head. Then I sent the tracks out to the individual musicians I wanted to have perform on the songs. The artists recorded their parts in their own home studios and sent them back to me. It was amazing to hear how each musician interpreted and performed their parts and the songs just evolved. The creative process was absolutely fascinating and I think we captured some amazing performances on this album.”
Kicking it off is a modern cover of ‘Carry on Wayward Son’ by legendary rock band Kansas. The key elements are there – good production, solid arrangement. Andrew Freeman‘s vocals accentuate the track with more rocking grit than what you’d hear in the original, which adds a nice spice to the classic tune. Following this is Judas Priests legendary ‘Hell Bent for Leather’. During this hot and powerful anthem, it’s easy to hear how much genuine fun playing music is for these guys.
Next, an unexpected rock version of Bruno Mars’ radio hit ‘Locked out of Heaven’ takes over. While I struggled a bit with some strain in the vocal tone here, it was easy enough to appreciate the detailed work in the arrangement, not to mention the kickass guitar solo that nearly defined the entire thing. This wouldn’t be the last time the guitar leads took the cake on these tracks. 80s soft pop love ballad ‘Words Get in The Way’ by Gloria Estefan was creatively adapted by each musician to invoke the spirit of rock, but the guitar solo, which cascaded with chromaticism, was what caught my ear the most.
One of my favourite songs to get a little crazy with at my local rock bar is Montrose’s energetic banger ‘Rock Candy’. I’m glad The Frequency Conspiracy took this one on, as it also happened to be my favourite on the album. A great opening vocal line by Freeman (whose vocal quality is just incredibly powerful overall in grit and gravity) is layered underneath by shredding leads from Joshua Jones, and heart-thumping drums by mainstay Joel accentuated by Rick Skatore’s heavy bass. Jones displays another slaying guitar solo later, in ‘Shapes of Things’ by the Yardbirds, where Jason (JMR) Richardson also takes his chance to let his vocals truly shine through.
If you’ve heard Christopher Cross’ beautiful ballad, ‘Sailing’, you’ll know what I mean when I say it’s one of those absolutely stunning 80s tracks (’79, actually), with just a fair bit of cheesiness and a signature resonance across the board. While I was excited to hear The Frequency Conspiracy‘s spin on it, I found it to be a tad lacklustre due to sound quality and a slightly buzzing bass tone. I’d love to hear what they could do with the song given the right production, or even better, in a live setting. Closing Quarantine Covers is an iconic song by The Eagles: ‘Life in the Fast Lane’. It doesn’t just end there, though, as right in the middle of it I’m hit in the face with a Pantera medley! That’s right, Pantera’s ‘Walk’ rears its signature riff in a place I never expected it to appear. Big points for creativity… I can’t help but feel, though, that I’d almost prefer a cover of ‘Walk’ in its entirety. The band could really amp up the brutality on this one and close the show with vigor! A thought for next time…
Thanks for sharing your work, artists, let’s keep the music alive!