DRIVING MRS. SATAN – ‘Popscotch’
(Out May 19th on Augualoca Records)
HEAVY METAL COVER ALBUMS have never been done like this before. Claudia, Ernesto and Giacomo triangulate their vocals, acoustic guitar and double bass to form stripped-back ditties of your favourite tracks from the Marshall-stacked 80’s era. The musical score and most of the melodies have been changed but the lyrics remain and the overall effect for some tracks is magical. Metallica’s ‘Battery’ stands out with its cutesy pre-verse ‘lah-la-lah-la-lah, bap-a-dap-a-da-da-dah’ before Claudia daintily annunciates James Hetfield’s throaty stanzas.
Other highlights are Anthrax’s ‘Caught in a Mosh’ and opener ‘I Want Out’, a track on which Claudia laid down her vocal track without hearing the Helloween original. And that’s the beauty of this album, the majority of songs stand on their own with just a subtle nod to their 30 year old counterparts. Driving Mrs Satan should be praised for not sticking to the obvious tracks when producing this type of album. There is no Enter Sandman, Ace of Spades or Paranoid. They’ve gone for quality over popularity and the love they have for these tracks shines through like smiling beams of nostalgia.
Still, it’s not what it used to be, and certain tracks sound like they didn’t quite getting the attention they deserved. The Iron Maiden covers don’t quite cut it with ‘Killers’ a slow turgid grind through the Di’Anno ageless classic and ‘Two Minutes to Midnight’ is just too similar to the original. It’s a similar criticism for Slayer’s ‘South of Heaven’, it just doesn’t have that unique Driving Mrs Satan authenticity stamp on it; and yes, she does sing ‘that’ line. Popscotch is well worth a listen but it’s not for everyone. Like my friend said, “I can’t decide whether I love it or have just wasted 40 minutes of my life”. (8)