Alright, now that we have that out of the way, let’s begin with this whole thing, shall we?
Tempers of music fans ran high from the day stories were posted on various sites that specific bands were to be covering songs that are heralded as classics in the genres of punk rock and hardcore. A metalcore band covering Bad Brains?! A pop-punk band covering the legendary Gorilla Biscuits?!? Surely this is some sort of joke? Surely not.
Say what you might about a lot of these bands, as I have in the past; however, few of these songs come off as much of a joke. In so many of these songs, you can tell that the band covering them put as much effort and heart into the song as they possibly could to create a faithful reproduction.
Buddy Nielsen and friends, collectively known as Senses Fail, start off the album, covering “Institutionalized” by Venice, California’s Suicidal Tendencies. Kicking off with the same drum beat and trademark guitar riff, it’s not long before you hear Buddy’s mom yelling his name, and exclaiming “YOU’RE ON DRUGS! Normal people don’t act that way!,” after which Buddy pleads for nothing more than a simple can of Pepsi. The band does a damn fine job of recreating the mood of anger and frustration as Mike Muir did in 1983, when Suicidal Tendencies was released.
Bands like the Bled and Fall Out Boy cover songs by Bad Brains and Gorilla Biscuits, respectively. The former nails the song “House of Suffering,” even adding a bit of their own flair, vocally, towards the end of the song. To some, the replacement of the harmonica break in the hardcore classic “Start Today” with a catchy, more Fall Out Boy-esque guitar riff may come as a disappointment.
I was particularly worried about Rise Against’s choice for a second Black Flag cover, the Keith Morris-era song “Fix Me.” Prior to this I had heard the band’s take on another Morris song, “Nervous Breakdown,” one of the best punk rock songs ever written in this reviewer’s humble opinion. While taking on a song of that magnitude would be a tough task for any band, Rise Against’s version of it seemed to come off quite bland, lacking any sort of anger, or any other emotion for that matter. However, the band redeems themselves here, knocking out “Fix Me” in a mere 54 seconds, with frontman Tim McIlrath spitting out Morris’ words with the same anger they were delivered with in the first place.
The only cover I have any sort of complaint with is My Chemical Romance’s take on the Misfits classic “Astro Zombies,” my personal favorite Misfits track. Gerard Way’s vocals are just too up and down to really sound as though it fits with the song. The way it comes out vocally, it seems almost forced at times. A solo at the end of the song adds some flair to it.
That’s the beauty of this compilation. Bands paying respect to those that came before them, and that paved the way for them. Paying tribute, but at the same time, putting a unique spin on a song that may have changed their lives, and the lives of too many others to count. Again, say what you will, but this album is filled with nothing but honest tributes to some of the best bands our scene has offered up in the years since its inception.