Sound: You love The Beatles. You love old school Metallica. Well, then you're exactly the target audience for the genre-crossing band Beatallica. In a nutshell, Beatallica takes well-loved Beatles songs and adds a variety of Metallica's musical touches -- from a spot-on impression of vocalist James Hetfield to some nicely executed guitar solo that at times are reminiscent of Kirk Hammett. While the novelty does wear off a bit along the way, Beatallica is obviously doing this out of love for the legendary bands and has to be given credit for attempting to fuse 2 very different (but equally impressive) bands.
It all comes down to fun when you listen to the band's first official full-length CD Sgt. Hetfield's Motorbreath Pub Band. Beatallica is comprised of solid musicians, but at times it's hard to get over the Weird Al Yankovic flavor in it all. The band actually overcame copyright issues by deeming itself a parody band, and it's a pretty suiting title. But behind the cleverly worded titles (Helvester Of Skelter, Leper Madonna), there is some great guitar work from Grg Hammettson and Jaymz Lennfield. Every song is rock-oriented, but the guitar work most closely resembles Metallica in Helvester Of Skelter. The track is arranged to be a balance between Harvester Of Sorrow and Helter Skelter, but it's one of the few tunes that ends up leaning more heavily toward the Metallica side by the end.
From the opening track Sgt. Hetfield's Motorbreath Pub Band, it becomes immediately obvious that vocalist/guitarist Jaymz Lennfield has a gift for sounding like Metallica frontman James Hetfield. While I'm not sure how the band originally formed, it's more than likely that it's directly related to Lennfield's gift of recreating the Enter Sandman vocal experience. It makes for a fascinating listen, but it does get a bit much after a while. It may have more to do with the mixing actually, with the lead vocals overtaking the backing instruments much of the time.
It's unfortunate that more songs on Sgt. Hetfield's Motorbreath Pub Band aren't as metal-sounding as Helvester Of Sorrow. To be fair, it's probably quite a task to take a pop song like Hard Day's Night and transform it into something that could show up on And Justice For All. Although not every song does have Metallica feel, there is still a lot of strong musicianship behind the parody. Anesthesia (I'm Only Sleeping) is one of the most impressive tracks, featuring a memorable bass solo from Kliff McBurtney and a nice Seek And Destroy line that pops up at the end. // 8
Lyrics: The songs on the CD have the appropriate dose of humor injected into them, although the lyrics aren't always clear because of Lennfield's delivery. The liner notes don't include the lyrics, but checking out the words online at places like AllTheLyrics.com is worthwhile. While the words might not be as clever as some classic Yankovic tracks, any Metallica fan should appreciate them.
There are Metallica references all over the place, and the opener Sgt. Hetfield's Motorbreath Pub Band is a solid example. Lennfield sings, James Hetfield's gonna sing a song; And he wants you all to thrash along; So let me introduce to you; The band who drank 1,000 beers. The track Sandman actually manages to mix some sweet nostalgia with caustic jabs at hair metal. In one section Lennfield recalls Metallica bassist Cliff Burton by singing, Now I lay me down to sleep; I pray for Cliff my soul to keep. In the next breath he tosses the sentimentality aside and sings, I am the beast under Don Dokken's bed; Sandman, f--kin' Dokken! It's little details like that which make for an amusing listen for anyone who lived in the '80s. // 9
Overall Impression: Although the humor and novelty of Beatallica is what has gotten them noticed, the band actually is proficient at what it does, even throwing in some unexpectedly awesome guitar and bass solos. It does get cheesy here and there (the last track ...And Justice For All My Loving goes a bit too much toward the pop side), but for the most part Beatallica is entertaining.
It's hard to not to be impressed by a band that takes the time to fuse 2 distinct bands into 1, particularly when the arrangement are pretty complex. While the vocals do tend to get a bit much because they are so prominent in the mixing, Lennfield is very good at what he does. He sounds eerily like the one-and-only James Hetfield, and manages to make that vocal style work for most of the songs. // 8