The Dark Side of the Moon – Metamorphosis (Napalm Records)Wednesday, 7th June 2023
Losing a bet typically results in something negative – a loss of money, having to do something embarrassing, etc., but in Melissa Bonny’s case, losing a bet to Hans Platz of Feuerschwanz meant getting to make a metal cover of “Jenny of Oldstones” from Game of Thrones. Napalm obviously loved it, signing the band based on this song alone, and they quickly got to work on Metamorphosis. Considering Ad Infinitum released Chapter III – Downfall back in March (link to review), and with Feuerschwanz having Fegefeuer coming out in July, one has to wonder when Bonny and Platz had time to sleep. Of course they aren’t in this alone; Morten Løwe Sørensen (Amaranthe) showcases his talented drumming abilities, while Jenny Diehl (who has been a guest musician for Feuerschwanz in the past) dances her fingers over harp strings to add a unique element to this project, plus some notable guests.
It’s fair to claim there’s no shortage of metal covers of many of the more, shall we say, geeky songs (shoutout to The Foreshadowing for their amazing cover of “The Rains of Castamere”). A quick YouTube search will bombard one with many results to choose from – in varying degrees of quality. The question here is if this offering will stand out amongst the crowd. In this scribe’s opinion, absolutely it does! It can be difficult to cover beloved songs and make them something new, while still being a tasteful rendition of the original. “The Hanging Tree” (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1) and “Double Trouble / Lumos! (Hedwig’s Theme)” (Harry Potter) are very distinct as they add so much more to the original. The former adding more instrumentation and increasing the pace of the song, while the latter is one of two tracks featuring the amazingly talented violinist Rusanda Panfili, plus the addition of lyrics in the form of the rhyming couplet from Shakespeare’s Macbeth (Act 4, Scene 1) – such a fitting combination. Speaking of combinations, Charlotte Wessels (ex-Delain) joins Bonny for “May It Be” (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring) and they transform a beloved song into an even better metal version. Diehl’s harp pulls you back to the original, while Platz’s guitar leads and crunchy riffs give this track a life of its own. Bonny even has some growls just under the surface, but what is not under the surface is Sørensen’s drums; no they are driving the rhythm of the song forward and really bringing it all together. It’s hard to think of that song being metal when listening to the original, but they pull it off with the utmost grace, resulting in absolutely being one of the best songs on the record.
In contrast, “Legends Never Die” (2017 League of Legends World Championship song by Against the Current) does not add much to the original. It’s still enjoyable, but not different enough from the original to be noteworthy. Another track that falls short of the original is “Misty Mountains” (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) featuring the hauntingly beautiful baritone of Tom S. Englund (Evergrey). While vocally both Englund and Bonny put on a top notch performance, this is one track that could have benefited from less of the more standard progressive/power metal feel. The opening has a very ominous atmosphere, and while there are interludes in that vein, if the whole track had maintained that, it would have greatly benefited the song.
Clearly, covers are the primary focus, but there are 3 tracks that are originals – “The Gates of Time,” “First Light,” and “New Horizons.” These all fit perfectly with the sound and theme; if one didn’t know better, they might even think these were covers from some obscure movie or show. Did I initially think “The Gates of Time” was going to be about a Stargate episode before I listened? Perhaps. “New Horizons” will get stuck in your head, fair warning. Fabienne Erni’s (Eluveitie) striking vocals harmonize perfectly with Bonny’s, creating an incredible ambiance. If any future Star Trek series wants to have a theme song, this would be perfect. On that note, a metal cover of Enterprise’s theme “Faith of the Heart” needs to happen.
When the “Jenny of Oldstones” single was released back in 2021, the band stated “We’ll show you the dark side of songs you thought you knew!” Clearly they have, and based on social media posts, it seems this isn’t the last we’ve heard, and this scribe is very excited to hear what they decide to cover next.