Covers albums are that oddity in a band’s catalogue that never quite attain the heights of an album of their own material and seemingly exist for collectors. Indeed many are compilations of B-sides and bonus material (Manic Street Preachers and Metallica are prime examples) and Skeletons in the closet is no exception with many of the seventeen tracks having been previously available in one form or another. That is not to say, however, that covers collections can’t be fun; more often than not they allow a band to pay tribute to their roots, while placing their own unique slant upon the material and that is where this album both stands and falls.
COB have chosen an admirably eclectic range of artists to cover, and the album succeeds where the choices are most ludicrous, allowing the band to indulge in some good old rock ‘n’ roll fun, while also seriously bothering their instruments in that over-the-top way that has attracted legions of fans over the years. The album fails, however, in the respect that some tracks are belligerently ‘Bodom-ed’ to the extent that they maintain the spirit of the originals in but name alone. Thus Iron maiden’s ‘Aces high’ sounds absolutely blistering and works as a fitting tribute to the original, while Kenny Rogers’ ‘Just dropped in’ loses its original poppish charm in favour of raw-throated screams and hell’s own rhythm section. That is not to say that it bad, exactly, just that a willing suspension of disbelief needs to take place if you’re familiar with the originals. That quibble aside (and when one considers it is a common problem with covers albums it is a minor quibble, at that) this album aspires to be a good-time metal album with the amps turned all the way up to 11 (no doubt there was a large quantity of beer at the recording sessions) and in this respect it succeeds admirably.
Those of you who picked up Spinefarm’s excellent re-issues of COB’s early albums will undoubtedly know some of the material on offer, and if you somehow missed the awesome (and hilarious) cover of Britney Spears’ ‘Ooops!… I did it again’ then you are almost obliged as a metal-head to purchase this album the second it hits the shelves. Other highlights include ‘Silent Scream’, ‘Rebel yell’ and a bizarre version of Creedance Clearwater Revival’s ‘Looking at my back door’, although the whole album burns with COB’s customary charm and vigour, and, of course, the musicianship on display is never anything less than blisteringly tight and technical. Perhaps this album is not the best place for the casual passer-by to discover COB, but for the already converted this is a fearsome blast of metal with a healthy dose of fun thrown in for good measure. Best served with a cold beer and a few mates, this will undoubtedly liven up those dreary winter months.