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Various Artists

Thriller - A Metal Tribute to Michael Jackson

Review by Gary Hill

I know the title says this is a “metal” tribute, but I question whether the person who gave it that title knows what “heavy metal” is. I went back and forth about whether this really fits under metal or not. Ultimately almost half the songs are metal and a few of the others have some metal moments, so it gets placed under metal. I’d say this set is quite good. It’s not great, though. For one thing the quality of a lot of it is sort of flat in terms of production. It feels rather thrown together in some ways. Also, there is a bit too much of a samey nature to a lot of it. Still, there are enough magical moments to make this well worth having. It’s also just a fun disc to put in and get your groove on with it.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 6 at

Track by Track Review
Thriller - Chuck Billy (Testament)

Incredibly heavy, this is awesome in this format. Of course, the original was cool, too. I do miss the Vincent Price bit. The section is still here, it’s just not Mister Price. This is just a great version, though.

Man in the Mirror - Danny Worsnop (Asking Alexandria) and Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big)
This isn’t quite the winner that the previous tune was. Yes, it’s got some cool moments, but overall it’s just a little weak. It’s also, I’d argue, not heavy metal. I’d land this thing somewhere between King’s X and hair metal. It’s okay, but I could live without it.
The Way You Make Me Feel - Angelo Moore (Fishbone), Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake) and Rudy Sarzo (Queensr├┐che)
This is a killer tune. It’s perhaps not really metal, either, but it’s a smoking hot rocker. The guitar solo section does land more in the territory of metal, though. Whatever you call it, though, this is a lot of fun. It should be noted that lineup information I’ve included here is directly from the album cover and presented just as they presented it. Keep in mind with multiple lawsuits under way, pending the results of those there are two bands calling themselves “Queensrÿche.” Sarzo is in the Geoff Tate fronted version of the group.
Black or White - Lajon Witherspoon (Sevendust), Bruce Kulick (Ex-Kiss) and Tony Franklin (The Firm)
More of a mainstream hard rocker than a real metal tune, this is a cool number, nonetheless. There is a more metal section later, but they also take this out into some real funk, too. 
Beat It - Priya Panda (Diemonds) and Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal (Guns N' Roses)
Now, this is metal. It’s got a cool groove and tasty female vocals. Of course, this song was pretty metallic even when Jackon did it. All in all, this is one of the better tunes here.
Billy Jean - Corey Glover (Living Colour) and Phil Campbell (Mot├Ârhead)
I absolutely love the bass sound on this. Of course, I could say the same thing of the guitar sound. This is more of a pure metal tune. Thanks to the vocals this calls to mind Living Colour. I like this one a lot, but then again I’ve always liked Living Colour and Motorhead. This is a standout tune.
Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground) - Elias Soriano (Nonpoint)
A cool hard rocking groove, this works well. The thing is, it’s another that’s definitely not metal in my mind.
Rock with You - Doug Pinnick (King's X)
This one I’d consider metal. It’s a pretty accessible tune. It works pretty well, but doesn’t really blow me away. There’s almost a Kiss vibe to this as far as I’m concerned.
Dirty Diana - Chris Jericho (Fozzy)
Definitely a heavy metal tune, this is raw and straightforward. It’s also very cool. I don’t think I ever heard the original of this song, but I really like this version. It’s a smoking hot tune.
Bad - Paul Dianno (Ex-Iron Maiden) and Craig Goldy (Dio)
Here we go with another that does fit under “metal.” This is gritty, grinding fun. It’s pretty cool.
They Don't Care About Us - Icarus Witch
I really like this version. It’s definitely metal. It’s got a lot of melodic metal in the mix, though. This is just a killer tune that’s one of the best on the disc.
Never Can Say Goodbye - Lonnie Jordan (War)
This is more of a straightahead hard rock tune with a lot of retro elements in the mix. There’s even a bit of an adult contemporary element here. The sound brings a lot of variety, but this definitely isn’t metal. It’s a good tune, though.
Smooth Criminal - Alien Ant Farm
I remember these guys had a bit of a hit with this at one time. I remember liking their original version a bit more than this one (at least, I think this isn’t the same version I used to hear), but that could just be the ravages of time on my memory. Either way, this is a killer hard rocking version of the classic tune. It’s not metal, but it’s cool.
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