Guaranteed to break the icy barrier which separates Metal and Jazz, Combo De La Muerte’s “Tropical Steel” widens the scope of confined music by taking Metal to the opposite end of the spectrum, Jazz. Now some of you are already familiar with Jazz Metal (check out this tag), a style that generally combines the intensity of Metal with the technicality of Jazz, but Combo De La Muerte focus more on mood and ambiance than technicality, which gives them a unique feel that’s both innovative and interesting to listen to.
Now I am not a big fan of the “tribute to Metal artists” type of releases, but for some reason, a female-sang Latin Jazz cover of Death’s “Pull The Plug” struck me as creative and utterly genius (this song would have made Chuck himself smile, especially with the double bass intro and the finger snapping). Here’s the video, give it a listen after checking out the original “Pull The Plug” in order to fully appreciate the cover.
Typically, after listening to such a cover, many ‘true Metalheads’ will label this as “blasphemous!”, and I totally understand. After all, how can anyone make Slayer’s “South of Heaven” sound like a peaceful journey to heaven instead of an evil descent to hell? “Such violators of the Metal cliche should be burned”… Well I think they should be praised for being courageous enough to play this kind of tribute to Metal, bringing Jazz audiences closer to the Metal ones and putting their own influences into what they play. After all, that’s what Opeth, Devin Townsend, Cynic and many other great Metal bands are doing.
The “South Of Heaven” cover can be streamed on the band’s Myspace page, but here’s a fun fan-made video for the song:
The 1 hour album goes through 20 Metal songs (including bonus track) from bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, ACDC, Slayer, Death, etc, using instruments like the marimba, theremin and double bass. The band’s influences range from Manowar to Gipsy Kings, Emperor and Diana Krall among others (full list available on their Myspace – see Links below).
More highlights from the album include a funky cover of Megadeth’s “Peace Sells”, and smooth Latin Jazz covers of Iron Maiden’s “Wrathchild”, AC/DC’s “Highway To Hell” and Manowar’s “Defender”.
A successful tribute is about playing a personal interpretation of the artists’ songs rather than emulating them by playing the song down to the very last details. Following that criterion, I can safely say that Combo De La Muerte’s “Tropical Steel” is the most interesting and creative tribute release I’ve ever listened to. Now you go ahead and give it a listen!