Reinxeed – Swedish Hitz Goes Metal

October 29, 2011 in Reviews by Arno Callens

Swedish Hitz Goes Metal

It is often uncanny how well pop music lends itself to power metal covers, as if all that us powerheads have been listening to for years is commercial hit radio concealed with a few layers of guitars and drums. Case in point is Reinxeed’s intermezzo compilation of metalized Swedish pop songs taken from three famous artists: Roxette, Ace Of Base and inevitably ABBA. I would like to point out that this is Tommy Johansson’s fourth release in two years (three with Reinxeed, one with Golden Resurrection) and I’m sure that there’s an army of clones of him running around somewhere, because this just can’t be the work of one very talented man.

Now there are two basic attitudes to pop-to-metal covers: either you just copy the whole thing without adding much own flavor except for the addition of metal instruments and a different singer. For example, Avantasia’s straightforward cover of ABBA’s “Lay All Your Love On Me”, while good, pales compared to the treatment the song gets on this album. Reinxeed follows the second philosophy: to take a song and totally adjust it to the band’s own sound, like Therion did with ABBA’s “Summer Night City”.

While not quite as icy as the recent full-length “1912”, the trademarks of Reinxeed are very much in place. The unmistakably recognizable voice of Johansson layered in bouncy choir melodies, the almost frigid keyboard work from another world and the meticulous arrangement of every song. And yet the immortal melodies of the original pop classics never get lost in the mix and everyone who had some decent radio exposure in a far more innocent and far less badass musical past will remember most of the tunes on offer here.

Some of the greatest ABBA-hits are present so beside the aforementioned “Lay All Your Love On Me” you can enjoy the likes of “Mamma Mia”, “Money, Money, Money”, the instrumental “Intermezzo No. 1” and my favorite “Summer Night City”. It’s hard to pick between this and Therion’s slower more classy version, but if anything that’s a vivid reminder that this is a great song to begin with. Such splendid melodies, granted much better suited to a symphonic (power) metal environment. This holds true for “Super Trouper” as well, which turns into a speedy power metal romp you wouldn’t associate with ABBA at all.

Less represented are the other two artists. Ace Of Base only gets three tracks in, but they are all a lot of fun, even if you’ve never heard of them before (and I bet most of you will have). Personally “The Sign” was new, but I liked it immediately and “All That She Wants” and “Beautiful Life” are not far behind in sheer catchiness. Roxette gets a less favorable selection, but one of the most amusing songs in the energetic “The Look”.  “Joyride” is a little less lively, but still enjoyable. “Sleeping In My Car” and “Listen To Your Heart” are a little more dull though.

Swedish Hitz Goes Metal (isn’t there a grammatical error in that title?) would be a nice treat to keep the fans satisfied until the next Reinxeed-record, but being the busy bee that he is Tommy Johansson just releases it in between albums that were a little over a year apart. This man is just making fun of struggling musicians, isn’t he? Be that as it may, it’s still a very pleasing compilation not half as silly as it may look. If you’d like an album full of power metal covers like Twilight Guardian’s “La Isla Bonita” or Firewind’s “Maniac”, this might be for you. Those allergic to old-fashioned pop music better stay away, but then again you might not be that much into power metal anyway.

Arno Callens’ Rating: /