Patrick Kennison and Heaven Below are at it again. Always busy and usually putting a creative spin on life for the rest of us with their music, Heaven Below took it a bit of a different direction and now give us Rest in Pieces. This new release contains 12 cover tunes from artists/singers/band members we’ve lost over time as it’s central theme, or as they say “A Tribute to the Departed”.
Now, many people have a notion of what a cover tune should be. Just like the original; totally different, new and improved, honestly the list never ends. Cover tunes are risky simply because it evokes memories of our past we don’t always want changed up. Then people have their own criteria that ranges from being like the original to being nothing like it with a million reasons why along the way to justify their point.
For me, I keep it simple. Did you honor the original while also making it your own? I mean, if you’re going to do it, to me that is the path to take in a cover. So that said, how did Heaven Below do with Rest in Pieces?
First things first is a quick scan over the list of songs. Johnny Cash to Queen to Pantera. As always, Patrick Kennison and Heaven Below show off a wide range of influences. I’m only going to comment on a few from the release to give you an idea of what to expect then leave the rest up to you. Music is something personal, so go personalize it when you check out Rest in Pieces. The band sure put some personal touches on some heavy classics.
Wanna put that to the test? We do that right off the bat with arguably one of the greatest singers of all time we’ve lost in Freddie Mercury. Covering We Will Rock You, I’ll just say even knowing what was coming, Queen didn’t hit me when the guitars immediately kick in. The clapping and stomping has been replaced with heavy guitars that have an Eric Serra feel to them. (no idea if aimed for or not, but I was digging the hell out of it). While you’ll recognize the song, the style is something so very new.
Down in a Hole; Alice in Chains. In all honestly I was never a “grunge” person so a lot of the covers from this time I simply don’t have a huge personal connection to. This simply means I can take it as such without flogging it with past memories of my youth. That said, while Kennison has a habit of cranking things up, going to 11 isn’t his only direction and when he changes it up, he can change the tone to soften things up as well. While this certainly “sounds” like Alice in Chains, it also certainly feels like something new.
But take the breather while you can as Motor Medley fires you right back up again and I’ll leave that right there.
Ain’t No Grave. You’re going out on a limb to do Johnny Cash. Cash could flat capture the raw emotions of the working man of his time like no other. For this rendition, we’ve got the blues in here, we’ve got the vocals going strong, we even have some “plucking” of strings in the background to help build the emotional cries coming from the music. We’ve got a working cover that captures the original and turns it into something new.
Now one of the releases Kennison has put a lot of time and thought into is Audioslave – Like a Stone. I’ll simply include the video here from Heaven Below and leave it to you to close your eyes and get lost in the song drifting in and out of your own memories.
Last mention is Don’t Change, INXS. If there is any song on here that I’d say is pretty close to the original, here it is. Even then however, it’s something more and made its way to one of my favorites off this release. Somehow it successfully brings me back to my own memories without changing a thing. No, pun not intended; it just happened that way.
The running theme seems to be that you’ll find traces of the original songs scattered throughout the song itself but seldom will you sit back and go “wow, that was a cover tune that reminds me so much of the original”. Good or bad I suppose would be up to you. However a key criteria is – did you honor the song while also making the music your own?
Heaven Below did that 12 times in my book with Rest in Pieces. Check it out from any major retailer or get it direct from the bands site. If you want to know more about their dynamic front man, Patrick Kennison, you can check out my in depth “An Evening With” interview when he and I virtually sat down and went over his entire career up to that point.
Rest in Pieces fills my own Heaven Below gap until they can come out with some more originals and they can one day make it to Dallas and I can see them live one day. Pick it up and make it your own too!