Metal Militia I(Black Sun - 1994)
Sarcazm - Motorbreath
Slightly sped up, guttural vocals, and precisely played guitars and drums. Short, raw and good, but it doesn't add much over the original.
Luciferion - Fight Fire With Fire
Even more sped up with death growls and razor-sharp but mechanical blast beats. Well executed, but lacking in passion, and it therefore comes off as cold, boring deathgrind without the brutal effect of death riffs.
Idiots Rule - For Whom the Bell Tolls
Syrupy keyboards take over the role of the second guitar at times but they aren't overused. They also go well with the throaty female vocal interpretation and groaning guitars. An interesting cover.
Miscreant - Fade to Black
Starts off well with a different and moody guitar solo but then the playing gets sloppy, and the vocalist makes it unlistenable with droning, off-tune vocals.
Snotrocket - Escape
Rabid At the Gates vocals, some lead guitar embellishments and a clunky new midsection, but otherwise nothing new. Unflattering and uninteresting.
Pagandom - Battery
A horrible slow hardcore-sounding interpretation of this speedy classic with a totally different staccato riffing sound. Empty sounding and annoying.
Flegma - The Thing that Should Not Be
A faithful rendition with only lower guitars and different vocals, this time with clean ones for the chorus and guttural roars for the rest. Enjoyable but not enough is new.
Ceremonial Oath - Disposable Heroes
Another faithful cover only with scratchy rasps as vocals. Ho-hum.
Afflicted - Leper Messiah
Lower tuned roaring guitars, but otherwise, yet another inferior clone. Why bother releasing this?
Crystal Age - Damage Inc.
A great song that would sound awesome with a brutal death metal interpretation but unfortunately this band disappoints and teases with the same ol' guitar sound, a sloppy guitar solo and a vocalist that tries his sore throat at rabid growls but can't growl worth a squirrel's phlegm.
In Flames - Eye of the Beholder
Other than the Maiden-esque instrumental strain in the middle, this was very disappointing and uninteresting. Basically a copy of the original with clean, weaker vocals and a harsh background vocal that is hardly noticable.
Dark Tranquillity - My Friend of Misery
Another band I looked forward to hearing. But it seems that they weren't virtuosos at the begining of their career either. This is yet another clone cover with harsh vocals and competent execution, but nothing else worth mentioning.
Summary: A useless tribute with hardly anything new. Changing the vocals and adding to the speed or guitar sound doesn't count as an interesting cover in my book. Also, the production is weak.
Metal Militia II(Black Sun - 1995)
Lisa Gives Head - The Four Horsemen
Slowed down, heavy guitars, and thick clean vocals all in the vein of latter day Entombed. It relies too much on the guitar sound though and lacks in energy. It also features a light rock guitar interlude that doesn't do much for the song.
Buttfuck - Whiplash
More of the same, with heavy guitar effects and throaty, slightly altered vocals. Enjoyable, but I prefer the speed of the original.
Mobile Mob Freakshow - Phantom Lord
A great heavy sound, this time matching the speed of the original, but slightly marred by the eccentric I've-got-a-billiard-ball-in-my-throat low guttural vocals. And I miss the great clean guitar interlude from the original.
Exmortem - Metal Militia
Finally, some real death metal. A primitive but enjoyable, gargling brutal-death sound, but with a thin drum sound.
Furious Trauma - Trapped
Mixed guitar sounds, a chaotic lead guitar rendition and teen-growls as vocals. Not bad, but a tad unfocused.
Physical Attraction - Creeping Death
It's not a good sign for a tribute when I feel refreshed by how similar a cover is to the original. However, although the guitars are fuller sounding, the vocals are weak and immature. An inferior copy.
Blakk Totem - Battery
A very wooden introduction as if they were afraid to move. Then a good, mostly faithful interpretation, majorly flawed because of silly Dave Mustaine wannabee vocals.
Holocaust - Master of Puppets
Smudgy sounding guitars that lose all the crunch and energy of the original and otherwise, a very similar but inferior rendition with dull vocals.
Fantasmagoria - Blackened
An eerie dissonant introduction, a chugging interpretation with small touches here and there and a nice sounding outro make this into a well rounded, above-average cover. Good.
Grope - ...and Justice For All
Roaring death guitars, and vocals that switch to gargling growls during the chorus. Nice sound and energy, and although the composition wasn't changed at all, it's pretty enjoyable.
Ungrateful - One
Nice guitar playing in the intro but lacking in power later. The vocals have too much vibrato, and not enough flair or power as well. A couple of personal touches. Nothing interesting.
Color Blind - Harvester of Sorrow
A rough vocal performance slightly reminiscent of Overkill, slow heavy riffing... and that's it. I keep waiting for it to do something. And waiting...
Colossus - Sad but True
Another track that just doesn't work. The track was slowed down - already a mistake. Add to this some thin operatic vocals that ruin the dark heavy effect of the riffing and you have a dud.
Summary: More interesting than the first but basically it's amateur night, with a collection of mediocre or flawed covers. Tribute bands need to work much harder than this to make these things worthwhile.
Overload(Dwell - 1998)
Crematorium - Whiplash
Mixed into the intro is an interview with Metallica from (I believe) the Puppets era in which they state that they aren't selling out just because they are now on a major label and aren't playing at 1000 miles an hour. Then they state that they'll play the same stuff as always. Crematorium erupt into a speedy, brutal and precise cover that basically comes off as an enraged tribute to what Metallica was and what they promised. Hear, hear.
From the Depths - Creeping Death
Full, roaring guitars and a great sound in general until the vocalist comes in. He sounds like he has an inflamed sore throat and lets off with a weak, raspy whisper. Oh well.
Terror - Jump in the Fire
Very faithful and pretty well done, but who needs an almost exact copy?
Habeas Corpus - Fight Fire with Fire
Very sloppy intro, then a badly produced but energetic cover with boring, barking vocals. Nothing new or interesting.
Diesel Machine - The Thing that Should Not Be
Yet another copy, this time with a vocalist that lacks in energy and tries to fake rough, raspy vocals with distortion effects. Otherwise, the only new item is a slightly altered guitar solo.
Steel Prophet - Fade to Black
A band I tend to see quite often in tribute albums it seems. Steel Prophet render this one into a harmonic soft ballad with atmospheric keyboards that builds up but retains its harmony. Kudos for working on the cover but it didn't appeal to me much for some reason.
Prototype - Trapped Under Ice
The drums make a lot more noise on this one but they were recorded so poorly the cymbals may as well be white noise. The occasional pointless lead guitar arpeggio flourish and solo were added and the vocals are clean and instantly forgettable. Bah.
Sickness - Eye of the Beholder
OK death growls, wooden playing that lacks in energy, and a mostly faithful approach to the composition. They could have easily death-metalized the music as well - why didn't they? Instead there are only glimpses of a blast beat and a horribly off tune guitar during the guitar solo.
Fongus - Enter Sandman
Slower; weaker; stiff annoying vocals; boring.
Castle of Pain - King Nothing
Ironically, this is probably the most interesting and solid cover on this tribute, but who chooses a recent commercialized hit to pay tribute with? Very well used keyboards add a whole new layer to this song, adding gothic syrup and dark atmosphere to the crunchy romp of the guitar. Nice.
Fist - Damage, Inc.
Back to energy and brutality. A raw sounding cover with bad production but with sick guitars and death growls. Good garage, raw metal sound for fans of underground metal only.
Engrave - Metal Militia
And the album ends the way it started: With an energetic, speedy but straightforward cover, with rough growls as vocals and some conversion to death metal. Good.
Summary: A mixed bag of covers and styles with the scales definitely favoring the negative. This makes the third Metallica tribute failure. They deserve better than this.