Artist: Doom Side of the Moon
Album: Doom Side of the Moon
Label: Music Theories Recordings
One of the most iconic works in the canon of popular music, The Dark Side of the Moon (1973) by Pink Floyd has been covered in its entirety by other musicians in numerous styles, including reggae, a cappella, and bluegrass. The Sword guitarist Kyle Shutt is the latest musician to give a nod to the classic, in the form of a release called Doom Side of the Moon, which will see the light of day in Europe on the 8th of December. As the title implies, doom/stoner metal is the name of the game, and Shutt has assembled a lineup featuring his Sword bandmates Bryan Richie (bass) and Santiago Vela III (drums), as well as vocalist Alex Marrero, keyboardist Joe Cornetti, and saxophonist Jason Frey for the project. According to Shutt, the idea behind the album came to him while he was stoned and wanted to hear a metal version of “Time.” Could this be just another horrible brainfart conceived under the influence or a stroke of genius?
Reviewing a cover of an album you have a deep affinity for can be hard, as it’s easy to get protective and dislike every little change, but despite being a big fan of Pink Floyd’s classic 70s opuses, I went in with an open mind. Luckily the variety of Doom Side of the Moon is a positive surprise, as Shutt and co. don’t simply play the songs in a slower tempo and with more distortion. For example, “Breathe” is an acoustic piece here, and the transition from it into the noisy “On the Run” is remarkable. The saxophone and the retro vocal effects serve as a nice link to the original album, and the cowbell on the hard rocking rendition of “Money” is a nice touch.
Floyd’s music is popular among stoners, just like stoner rock and metal (duh!), so the genre change on the album isn’t a giant leap in that sense. On top of that, Roger Waters’ musings on war, greed, insanity, and the inevitability of death translate quite nicely into metal. This can be heard best in the industrialized “Brain Damage”, on which the demented, half-spoken vocal delivery reeks of Marilyn Manson and the theme of madness has been captured successfully. My favorite version is “Us and Them”, the verse arpeggios of which have been changed quite creatively, and the dynamics of the song have been amplified.
The album isn’t without its flaws, though: “Any Color You Like” [sic] is rather aimless, the abrupt ending of “The Great Gig in the Sky” pulls the rug out from under you and makes the version come across as unfinished, and the hockey organ in the middle of “Money” is pretty corny. Besides, the use of interview samples and sound effects was one of the things that made The Dark Side a revolutionary record in its day, but sadly none of them have been recreated on Doom Side, which makes some sections sound a little too bare-bones and vacant. These aren’t major dealbreakers though, and the flow of the music is almost as good as on the original, without too many unnecessary breaks.
Doom Side of the Moon is a well-done tribute to one of the greatest albums of all time: imaginative and different enough to justify its existence while managing to maintain the spirit of the original in a fascinating way. To be honest, I can’t see myself specifically reaching for it instead of the Floyd album, but I applaud Kyle Shutt for his effort and recommend the record to anyone who’s into this style of metal, even if they haven’t heard (gasp!) The Dark Side of the Moon before.
Rating: 8/10, 4 stars
1. Speak to Me
2. Breathe (In the Air)
3. On the Run
5. The Great Gig in the Sky
7. Us and Them
8. Any Color You Like
9. Brain Damage