So, sometimes you’re kind of bored and you throw an album on just to see if it inspires you, and then much to your pleasant surprise, it does! That’s at least what happened when I threw on “Disco Balls to the Wall” by TRAGEDY, which came out on July 30th, 2021, via Napalm Records. This weird cover album serves up hard rock/heavy metal covers of classics by bands that you all know and love, from ABBA to THE BEEGEES. That’s right, bust out your disco balls and leather pants, because it’s time for a genre-fuck and if you’re anything like me, I think you’re going to like it.
This album is a 14-track piece of inspired musical creativity that is astoundingly diverse in so many ways. It opens with the dramatic high-energy heavy metal rendition of ABBA‘s “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight),” which is an immediate banger, but is followed up by the real genre clusterfuck that is “You’re the One that I Want” from Greece, which is going to be really hit-or-miss due to the wild combination of punk and growls thrown against the starkly different verses. “Evil – Baker Street” had another interesting combination of what felt like Billy Idol, HIM, THE BEATLES, IRON MAIDEN, and probably a few more. GUNS ‘N’ ROSES -era rockin’ opens “Stayin’ Alive,” the first of three THE BEEGEES covers. There’s a more upbeat chorus that touches closer to a thrashy sound (though it’s pretty tame) and it works surprisingly well with the disco beat of the original. “Sweet Caroline” has church organs droning, creating an empty echoing effect, before getting bouncier in the slightly punky chorus.
One of the most wonderfully ludicrous songs on the album is “Raining Blood / It’s Raining Men,” which is indeed pretty much what it sounds like, which is the classic THE WEATHER GIRLS hit, as done in heavy metal style, with a hefty dose of SLAYER‘s “Raining Blood” mixed in for flavor. What’s even more insane is that it actually works pretty well. Next THE BEEGEES cover “How Deep Is Your Love” is pretty straightforward mid-tempo rock track, which sounds decent but doesn’t stand out as much as some of the others, starkly contrasting “Aquarius / Let the Sun Shine,” in which they went full Phantom of the Opera. There’s no other way to explain it. Naturally, however, the chorus of the latter is more rockin’ with that punky bounce. TOTO‘s “Africa” is surprisingly mid-tempo but not necessarily in a bad way. It’s another one of those tracks that gives your brain a bit of a rest from the shenanigans of some of the other material. They then dared to touch Bonnie Tyler‘s beloved classic, “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” opening on a somewhat haunted note with whispering wind and distant dogs barking and I admit to being surprised at how reserved they kept their rendition of this very dramatic song (big bangs notwithstanding, of course). The vocalist does add a little of what sounds like an Axl Rose flare to his sound at times.
The final THE BEEGEES cover shares a name with the band: “Tragedy.” This is, once more, one of the less-insane songs on the album but maintains a nice dramatic arc to its progression. They push into a hard rock format again for ABBA‘s “Dancing Queen,” which has a nicely dressed-up melodic line, though the verses are really mushy – a bit of a miss for me, even if the chorus is less messy-sounding. They then take a very epic metal stance instrumentally on Adele‘s James Bond theme song, “Skyfall,” though the melodic vocals in the verses are beautiful and powerful. One of the album’s highlights for me, they put a nice, punchy, rockin’ feel into the original. The album then winds up with a live rendition of “Hot Stuff” (originally by Donna Summer) and features – of all people – Alex Skolnick of TESTAMENT fame as a guest. This lively and fun rendition is a great way to wrap up the album on a high note to leave listeners wanting more.
While not every cover is a winner, TRAGEDY have shown an incredible creativity in their covers. This isn’t an album for every day, per se, yet its pure nonsense fun energy permeates the album from beginning to end, meaning (if you’re not married to the originals) you’ll have plenty to explore and find amusing in “Disco Balls to the Wall” (and props to the ACCEPT reference in the title). If you like hard rock or goofy covers, this is an album you won’t want to miss!
- Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
- You’re the One that I Want
- Evil / Baker Street
- Stayin’ Alive
- Sweet Caroline
- Raining Blood / It’s Raining Men
- How Deep Is Your Love
- Aquarius / Let the Sun Shine
- Total Eclipse of the Heart
- Dancing Queen
- Hot Stuff
Disco Mountain Man – lead vocals, lead keyboards
Mo’Royce Peterson – lead vocals, lead guitar
Andy Gibbous Waning – lead bass, lead vocals
Garry Bibb – lead guitar, lead vocals
The Lord Gibbeth – lead drums
Lance – towel boy, complete idiot