Yeah, cover bands are a bit of a weird musical anomaly. Financially, they’re a certified winner on the live circuit because who and their dancing grannies hasn’t seen an ABBA tribute act, right? But creatively and artistically, it seems they don’t have much of a leg to stand on. If all your purpose is to imitate the artist your trying to portray down to the last hair of their outdated and horrendous mullets, then is artistic integrity even really relevant here?
Well, life finds a way, as a made-up scientist played by Jeff Goldblum once said… Brass Against are one such band you may have seen floating around YouTube in recent days. As their name suggests, Brass Against are indeed just that; a brass band that consists of 23 musicians who are fuelled by the fires of hip-hop and rock, who’re taking a stand against an ever-corrupting world. Brass Against, led by band leader and guitarist Brad Hammonds, are reigniting the flames of musical revolution, covering bands such as Rage Against The Machine, Black Sabbath and even Pantera. Songs we all know and love have been given a new life in an utterly new light that deserve the same respect as the originals. Even surpassing in places.
So, here’s our crash course as to why this covers band actually matter:
- Literally, ALL the TOOL!
Anyone ballsy enough to cover Tool is either insane or deluded. Taking on their enigmatic musical back catalogue is a musical endeavour that should only be attempted by someone with a PhD. So, to hear a brass band take on one of metal’s most brain knotting artistic achievements and nailing it makes it that much more of an accomplishment. Their understanding of the source material goes beyond simply transcribing guitar riffs into musical manuscripts for a tuba. Never compromising the artistic integrity as click bait gimmick, this is Tool like you’ve never heard it before.
Seriously, there’s just no way of simply choosing one track from their handful of absolutely mind melting renditions of arguably Tool’s more iconic tracks. Samuel Hope’s uncannily nails Maynard James Keenan vocals that make you think twice about whether or not the Tool/A Perfect Circle/Puscifer frontman is actually featured here. With ‘The Pot’ raking in over half a million listens on Spotify, it seems pretty clear that fans of the original seem to approve wholeheartedly. The fact that a Tool song is on Spotify at all is a miracle, but we’ll leave that conversation for another time.
Though not diverting from the original’s structures in any way, the added brass adds another unique angle and vibrant, vivid texture to the Tool labyrinth that by all rights shouldn’t work. Yet, here we are. And it is glorious. So, instead of just limiting your enjoyment to one, all three covers need and are more than deserving of your attention.
- Gasoline (Audioslave Cover) ft. Amanda Brown
Though their Rage Against The Machine covers are hailed as the band’s central vocal point (given that their name is a play off the band in question), there’s just something a little bit special about Amanda Brown’s soulful vocals lending itself so well to this Audioslave classic that has it ranking up so high on this list. Taken from the supergroup’s debut album, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that at least instrumentally that Audioslave would be a natural fit for them to take on. When that chorus hits it strikes hard, making for a perfect vehicle for Brown to blast full pelt from those iron lungs of hers. Cornell himself would be more than proud of this we’d have no doubt.
- Bulls On Parade (Rage Against the Machine Cover) Mazz Swift
By far their strongest Rage cover and where they really grit their hip-hop chops, ‘Bulls On Parade’ encompasses what this band stands for. Rebellion, aggression and some pissed off sounding trumpets that would send Reel Big Fish crying, let alone Mazz Swift spitting out the rhymes that defined a generation that could send governments crashing. This is your introduction to BA. Rage on!
- Wake Up (Rage Against the Machine Cover)
Soul is definitely a weapon in Brass Against, however it’s here that they really establish themselves as an aggressive force to be reckoned with, as they so claim to be. The sheer wall of fucking ‘BOOM!’ here smacks your head around the way the original would demand of anyone ballsy enough to take it on. Fist clenching musical liberation right here!
- Kashmir (Led Zeppelin Cover)- Live at Brooklyn Bowl
Though not officially realised, this live rendition of this classic Zepp XXL banger was made for a cover like this. Catering perfectly to the smooth, funky, blood, sugar, sex, magic grooves BA bring to the table. The riffs push forward with a hypnotic force that cradles Urista’s vocals that at this point sounds like Robert Plant collaborated with Amy Whitehouse. Now, what’s not to love about that? When something so genius is this simple it works on so many levels.
Make sure to catch Brass Against’s UK and Ireland tour from June 1 – 11 [Supporting Lenny Kravitz at the London O2, June 11].