A Tribute to ABBA

Various Artists

Track Listing
1. Summer Night City - Therion
2. Thank You For the Music - Metalium
3. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! - Sinergy
4. Money, Money, Money - At Vance
5. Voulez Vouz - Morgana Lefay
6. S.O.S. - Paradox
7. Take A Chance On Me - Rough Silk
8. Chiquitita - Spiral Tower
9. Eagle - Sargant Fury
10. One of Us - Flowing Tears
11. Waterloo - Nation
12. Super Trouper - Custard
13. Knowing Me, Knowing You - Tad Morose
14. Dancing Queen - Glow

Nuclear Blast 2001

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Another ABBA Tribute:
Black Sweden - Gold (2001)
Even More Tributes/Cover Albums:
Holy Dio (1999)
Yngwie Malmsteen - Inspiration (1996)


Metal bands are known for their off kilter covers, and ABBA is currently one of the most popular bands to try and come up with a heavy fired remake. Their songs were simple pop ditties with a disco flavour and surprisingly that translates well into a hard rock setting. So everyone has been covering the 70s Swedish supergroup from neo-classical shredder Yngwie Malmsteen to the female fronted Karma. Its gone so far as to spawn a hybrid cd of half ABBA - half classic rock called "Gold", played by mysterious Scandinavian musicians that call themselves "Black Sweden". So naturally some other metal outfits are going to get in while the getting's good and crank out a cd all funded and most likely dreamed up as well, by the metal oriented record label. Thus "A Tribute to ABBA" is born and even more shocking is the fact that its pretty darn good as well. Some of these tunes have popped up on various albums over the years, most notably At Vance and Tad Morose, but others seem to have been done just for this project, and are fresh out of the box.

Going in, one might wonder what to expect. A smattering of well respected metal outfits covering a disco band, whoever heard of such a ridiculous thing? But here it is nevertheless… and thankfully its heads and tails better than the millionth tribute to Aerosmith, Black Sabbath or Motley Crue that have shamelessly flooded the market in the past few years all in the pursuit of making a quick buck. Songs should be covered to breathe new life into them, give a brand spanking fresh take on an old theme to both surprise and delight the listener alike. With material that plays close within a given band’s genre, covering a song is often quite useless. Who needs another dead on copy of “Smoke On the Water” or “Stairway to Heaven”? Wasn’t the original good enough? But when say, Yngwie pops up and blows people out of the water with an aggressive remake of Rainbow’s classic “Gates of Babylon” or Gotthard picking up Beatles classics like “Let It Be” and bringing the song kicking and screaming with a new blues rock vibrancy for the 90s, a worthy tribute is actually made. This is where albums like “A Tribute to ABBA” come in, music that was originally kitschy, wildly popular and buried deeply within the times of its release are turned over on their prissy heads and let loose with a raw flame of metallic power.


Therion’s “Summer Night City” is a prime example of this phenomenon. They integrate the catchy chorus right into their own style and end up making the track all their own. It sounds like a blistering rock sizzler from 2001’s “Secret of the Runes”. “Knowing Me, Knowing You” absolutely burns by Tad Morose. Its doom kissed spin is the perfect compliment to the simple yet satisfying hook that is the perfect recipe for a metal masterpiece. And who can forget the mediocre Malmsteen wannabe outfit At Vance, who some (including myself) have dubbed the ABBA covering masters? They are absolutely fabulous with their covers tunes and “Money, Money, Money” is one of their finest. There’s just something potentially amusing about a macho voiced guy singing the lines: “in my dreams, I have a plan, to find me a wealthy man…” Its all for the sake of staying true to the original! The song is injected chock full of pomp and thunder, although not quite of the same superb caliber as their “Winner Takes It All” cover. It’s a shame the boys compiling this little release neglected to include it since that song is missing from this compilation completely, yet “Eagle” makes an appearance here, done in pure kickin' ass style by Sargant Fury. It has a world of fire in its belly, and comes out roaring like a flame breathing dragon. It has that influence over the emotion that urge one to take up arms and dive into battle. All thanks to the pure power metal pumping in the song's veins, straight to the harded heart core. More cool cuts include Morgana LeFay’s take on “Voulez Vous” where they manage to give it a halfway creepy atmosphere. It was previously seen on their "Past Present Future" release, and its a real treat to see it pop up here. “Waterloo” was never one of my favorite ABBA songs but Nation whips it into a hard rocking hurricane with hooky guitars and a vocalist that handles the mic with a natural ease and some backing vocal cheese. Super stuff there! Rough Silk’s “Take a Chance On Me” takes a cue from the source material and turns up on this tribute as catchy as hell. The throaty vocals and more down to earth hard rock antics with an electronica knife in the gut twist, turn their hybrid mix into a nostalgic trip back to the band’s “Roots of Hate” glory days. Finally, “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!”, is nicely whipped out by Sinergy, which is one of two female fronted bands to grace the tribute. Goss’s vocals are arresting and her death metal influenced backing band burns the rafters down with waves of heaviness.

The rest of the cd is touch and go, Spiral Tower covering “Chiquitita”, which was never one of the Swedish outfit’s career highlights and their rendition doesn't do much for it. Flowing Tears “One of Us” is slipped into a strange goth setting which might turn some diehards off. In my opinion however, its one of the best interpretations on the disc! The overly pleasant female vocals seem breathless with their sense of loss and coo comfortingly over the sparse landscape with a beckoning edge of intimacy absent from the poppier bent original. “Super Trouper” by Custard could have benefited from some additional beefing, but hey its not all bad, just sadly shallow. Oh and those high pitched wavering vocalists contributed by their lead belter kind of grates on the nerves after the initital introduction. The same can be said of Paradox’s “S.O.S.” as they butcher the track and leave little to latch onto for the sake of repeated listenings. One time through is more than enough to decide its fate. Its too frantic, too fast and devoid of emotion. The chorus is supposed to explode right out into your face, but instead they just thrust this run-of-the-mill thrash thing in your face. Even worse than boring, its really irritating! “Thank You For the Music” by Metalium is not necessarily bad, but then again it has to stand up to such excellent pieces by Tad Morose and Nation making it seem worse than it really is at first glance. The chorus kind of falls flat on its face and the rhythms don't really fit. The composition is unnecessarily cluttered. It ends up sounding like some weird Savatage cross, with that "broadway metal" stage feel. To put an end to it all is the not so grand finale and poor marketing move with "Dancing Queen" a punk-ish tongue and cheek cover that feels like a last minute tack on and doesn’t gel with the rest of the disc which is dominated by power metal bands and their cleaner cover creations. The other bands have tried to make something fresh and creative out of the raw materials from these pop ditties, but Glow is obviously on a different page, seeming to be making fun of ABBA than anything else. As one would imagine, this is not exactly fitting into the theme which is supposed to be ‘tribute’.


All in all, ”A Tribute to ABBA” turns out to be not such a bad purchase, and you don’t even have to be a die hard fan of the 70s top pop charters to enjoy it. The disc assumes you have a smattering acquaintance with the band, but nothing else is necessarily needed, for the song’s were 70s hit makers for a reason. The tunes all had catchy hooks that made them irresistible to the mainstream masses and many of these metal bands have been able to tap into those precious resources and pull out the very best of the songs for their own metallic takes. The results often speak for themselves as At Vance and Therion are waiting within to demonstrate. The cd’s main drawback is a few of these lesser rock workouts and the cringe worthy punk ending. Most of these so-called tributes carelessly whipped out on a low budget are pure unfiltered crap, but this one is a gem, making the way smooth sailing for those wanting to test their toes in the turbulent tribute album waters.

Ratings and Wrap Up:
Songs - 8.5, Performance - varied, Production - 7.5, Lyrics - 6.0

Hot Spots: Therion's "Summer Night City", At Vance's "Money, Money, Money", Sargant Fury's "Eagle"
Bottom Line: Who knew that songs by disco pop sensations ABBA could so easily translate over to heavy metal?

Review by Alanna Evans -

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