Monuments To Arson: A Tribute To His Hero Is Gone
14 bands giving praise to one of the greatest bands of the '90s.
When I saw the phrase “His Hero is Gone Tribute Album,” I’ll admit, I was skeptical. It’s not just because I think covers albums are often uneven, or because HHIG are one of my favorite bands (one of my projects takes its name from a line in a HHIG song) but, more importantly, that HHIG are a band that seems incredibly difficult to cover.
I played drums in a band that performed a set of HHIG covers for a Halloween show a while back and we learned that the hard way. There were so many songs that we were sure we were technically playing “correct,” in the sense that we were playing the right notes and beats, yet somehow it felt like we weren’t capturing the essence of the song. Kind of like how “Master of Puppets” is notoriously difficult to satisfactorily cover because the rhythm and vibe of that song is so dependent on the specific way that Metallica plays, HHIG has several qualities that I think make them difficult to replicate. This includes, (a) that unmatchable guitar tone and (b) a sort of looseness in their style, where they simultaneously sound like the tightest band in the world even as their songs always felt like they could fall apart at any moment.
As someone who is just old enough to have seen HHIG when they were around, that combination of precision and chaos really came through in their live show, and it’s an incredibly fine line to walk. Few bands since them have, I would argue, captured it quite as well as HHIG did. All that to say I was not expecting this covers album to be as good as it is.
I was pleasantly surprised by a lot of the songs on here. I think it wisely starts off with a cover of “Paranoia Secured” by Many Blessings which is mostly a wall of electronic noise that, frankly, doesn’t even try to replicate the original, setting the tone for the rest of the album. Eventually, after going through some slightly more outside the box covers, notably Isenordal’s version of “Headless/Heartless” that relies heavily on piano and strings, the album settles in to some pretty traditional covers, including “Friendly Fire”, “Surrender”, and “Raise the Curtain” by HEEL, Nightmare Fuel, and Githyanki, respectively, each of whom acquit themselves well.
Overall, this is a pretty well done covers album, all things considered. Standouts, for me, include Old Iron’s particularly heavy version of “Chain of Command”, Blast Cell’s nicely atmospheric rendition of “Epidemic”, and Nuclear Dudes’ noisy take on “Concrete Cage/Abandoned”. In some ways, I would have liked to see a few more particularly weird takes on HHIG songs like that first track—I would have loved to hear more bands actively rework the songs tempo-wise, or try using different instrumental to play them—but if you like HHIG, I expect you’ll enjoy at least some of these covers, and probably find some new bands to check out along the way.
All proceeds from this release will be donated to the Fairbanks Native Association, an indigenous organization that assists with drug and alcohol dependency rehabilitation, mental wellness, and more.