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Victory Records
        A year after the release of the phenomenal Alaska, arguably 2005's greatest album, BTBAM have released a covers album. This is perhaps the longest cover album ever, coming in at fourteen tracks within seventy minutes, and, as the title states, this is clearly a tribute to the essentials that inspired the band.
         Even one of the most technical and experimental bands to date are not without their earthly catalysts. The songs covered can be divided into two groups: songs by bands that are more obvious influences (Earth Crisis, Pantera, Sepultura), and songs by bands that seem to play less into BTBAM's sound (Smashing Pumpkins, Pink Floyd, Depeche Mode). None of the bands chosen were a complete surprise, except Motley Crue, who I can't imagine inspiring a band with actual musical substance.
         At first some were expecting to hear blistering metal modifications on Blind Melon and Counting Crows, but uh, they were wrong. The songs that were originally heavy, BTBAM magnifies the intensity, but songs that were originally softer are also replicated soft, with a little more guitar overdrive at most. Did you really expect Tommy Rogers to be screaming "I WANT TO RIDE MY BICYCLE" backed by blistering double pedal breakdowns?
         BTBAM respects all the bands they cover by not changing a whole lot. Tommy's voice seems to half imitate the original singer, while also staying true to his unique style. His keyboard skills are also included in many of the songs. Dan Briggs takes many liberties for the bass parts, and adds his virtuoso touch to almost all the songs. Blake takes it pretty easy on the drums, and the guitarists do as well, although they display their dueling skills in the King Crimson cover, the best song on the album, and in the electric-harmonics-over-acoustic in the Pantera cover.
         So if you don't like the original songs, this album might not be of much interest to you. If you're not all too familiar with this material, but like BTBAM, this album is worth your listening. These don't just sound like covers, they sound like half the original band and half BTBAM.
         Overall, these songs were all very well chosen; they are songs most other bands probably would not think of covering, and they all sounded like the band had a good time recording. If this was their attempt to take it easy, but at the same time not slack off, they succeeded.
         As far as cover albums go, this album has the broadest range of selections and the widest variety between track to track. BTBAM has taken the concept of a covers album beyond the typical Kidz Bop sounding imitation, combining their experimental hardcore tendencies with their appreciation for classics.
C.L. '06
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Band Website

1) Blackened (Metallica)
2) Kickstart My Heart (M?tley Cr?e)
3) Day I Tried To Live (Soundgarden)
4) Bicycle Race (Queen)
5) Three Of A Perfect Pair (King Crimson)
6) Us And Them (Pink Floyd)
7) Geek U.S.A (The Smashing Pumpkins)
8) Forced March (Earth Crisis)
9) Territory (Sepultura)
10) Change (Blind Melon)
11) Malpractice (Faith No More)
12) Little 15 (Depeche Mode)
13) Cemetary Gates (Pantera)
14) Colorblind (Counting Crows)