It always fascinates me when a unique song or album launches a genre. Apocalyptica’s 1996 release Plays Metallica by Four Cellos introduced to the world the “guys covering heavy metal on classical stringed instruments” genre, whether we thought we needed one or not. Before long, cello-playing dudes everywhere were churning out orchestral versions of Tool, Iron Maiden, and Led Zeppelin. Vitamin Records has made an entire career out of it, releasing close to 1,000 string tributes to every popular rock and metal band you can think of. One of their most recent releases is The Evil You Dread, a tribute to the mighty Slayer.
The Evil You Dread contains ten tracks — nine cover tunes and one original (“Midless Death”) — performed via violin, viola and cello. The versions presented here are often slower in tempo (especially the earlier tracks), but the spirit of Slayer is still somehow present. I’m not saying that the album will have you headbanging along, but the music does sound somewhat more frentic than the average classical compilation.
The only major annoyance is that the violin is often used to simulate a vocal track. They also used to use violins to simulate bugs and insects talking in old cartoons. The whole time I was listening to “South of Heaven” I couldn’t help but imagining a large mosquito standing at the mic stand, throwing up the devil horns (if a mosquito’s arm/leg can even do that) and rocking out with his two big buggy eyes. It’s probably just me.
If you have ever been in an elevator listening to bad musaz/instrumental versions of songs and thought to yourself, “Boy instead of Billy Joel I wish they were playing string versions of Slayer songs in here, Jesus Christ I would buy that and listen to it for hours at a time!” then Vitamin Records has your fix. And if Slayer’s not your bag, they have string tributes to Nine Inch Nails, Disturbed, Jennifer Lopez, and Limp Bizkit too. Run, don’t walk.
I doubt the guy who carved “SLAYER” into his forearm with a razor blade is spinning this CD, but if you’re looking for a calm version of “Mandatory Suicide” to play at your next tea party, this is for you.
01. Expendable Youth
03. Dead Skin Mask
04. Divine Intervention
05. Mandatory Suicide
07. Die By The Sword
08. South Of Heaven
09. War Ensemble
10. Mindless Death (Original)