Little Emo Quartet - Anatomy Of Evil: The String Quartet Tribute To Iron Maiden

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Vitamin
Catalog Number: VIT-8765
Format: CD
Total Time: 50:23:00

I was happily grazing on the shelves of my favourite record importer when this caught my eye: Anatomy Of Evil - The String Quartet Tribute To Iron Maiden. Well, I'm sure you understand this wasn't just something I could leave in the shop. If only for curiosity's sake. According to the cover inserts, Vitamin Records has also released numerous other string tributes, among them Tool, Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, Nine Inch Nails, The Cure and Rush. Being thoroughly intrigued, I've given it a fair bit of listening time and I can say it's ... interesting. A talking point, certainly, but not really something that would be necessary to have.

My main question, of course, was "how on earth do you play Maiden with a string quartet?" I was expecting something maybe like a metal version of the electric pop-quartet Bond, perhaps with a sound and mood a bit like Apocalyptica, who are of course famous for doing Metallica covers with cellos. I was expecting at least some electric instrumentation and maybe a drum kit (that's what I'd use). But no, it's as it says, a string quartet ? two violins, viola and cello, all acoustic, and only very minimal percussion ? nothing fancy. This is not string instruments playing metal, as with Apocalyptica. This is Iron Maiden music arranged to be string quartet music.

Unfortunately I don't think it really succeeds. The instruments are trying too hard to generate the mood of Maiden when they don't have the right sound to start with; they try to recreate the aggressive energy of the original music with overuse of harsh attack, jazz glissandos, dramatic vibrato and sharp accents, all of which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. When it does work, it sounds kinda good, but when it doesn't it just sounds ... well, not quite clumsy, just wrong. To go back to Apocalyptica, I've found I vastly prefer the material from those mad cellists when it's actually been written by them for cellos (i.e., their latest two albums Cult and Reflections) rather than the cover material which originally made them famous (their first album, Inquisition Symphony). I find their cover material sounds awkward, trying to fit it onto instruments that weren't originally meant to play the music.

It's the same here; the one song I really liked from Anatomy Of Evil was the title track, which is the only non-cover of the lot. As for the rest, it seems to work best when they don't try to sound "metal," when it just sounds like string quartet music whose melody lines bear some resemblance to Maiden tunes. There aren't really any specific covers which stand out as being better or worse, because on all tracks there are some bits that I think are quite cool, and other bits which are very average. I actually do commend the Little Emo Quartet for having the balls to do this, because it's certainly not something that immediately springs to mind as an easy pastime ? hey, I feel like doing an Iron Maiden tribute with string instruments! They've done the best they could with what they had, which is pretty good, considering. In all it is a rather fascinating listen. Not much more than that though.

If you think you'd be interested to hear how "Run To The Hills," "The Number Of The Beast," and "Two Minutes To Midnight" (among other classics) are played on violins, by all means investigate. Purist Maiden fans may prefer to stay away though. I liken this to the difference between the original version of Shakespeare's "Romeo And Juliet" and its modern rendition by Baz Luhrman; and I recall with amusement the reaction to the latter by my dear grandfather, who is a professor of Shakespearean literature. This album will not impress those who regard Iron Maiden to be the unchangeable Shakespeares of metal.

[This review originally appeared November 2003 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]

Run To The Hills / Number Of The Beast / 2 Minutes To Midnight / Wasted Years / Hallowed Be Thy Name / Powerslave / Aces High / The Trooper / Iron Maiden / Anatomy Of Evil



Genre: Other


Added: January 1st 2005
Reviewer: Karyn Hamilton
Hits: 890
Language: english


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