In the world of heavy metal, the parodying and covering of songs in inappropriate musical styles is surprisingly common. All over the internet, fans of this traditionally stoic and closed-minded genre have gleefully mixed the most extreme and bleak tracks with pop, big band jazz or electronic music. From Richard Cheese to Andy Rehfeldt; from the Lady Gaga/Behemoth mashup to the Slipknot/Justin Bieber monstrosity (if you don’t already know about all of these, open a YouTube tab post-haste), metal fans seem more than willing to make light of their harsh and forbidding exterior image when, and only when, comically messing with established artists’ tracks. However, it’s one thing to create an overt joke track by jamming together things that shouldn’t mix, and another feat entirely to disguise a famous metal track as a song in an entirely different genre so expertly that it is nigh-on impossible to deduce that the resulting product is not a completely new song in its own right. This is exactly the skill that the absurdly monikered Driving Mrs. Satan bring to the table.
Covering Metallica, Iron Maiden (twice), Black Sabbath, Slayer, Megadeth, Trust (though the song ‘Antisocial’ was brought to metal fans’ attention through being covered by Anthrax), Venom, Queensryche and Voivod across their new album Did You Mrs. Me?, this Italian, female-fronted quartet certainly live up to their tag line of ‘Heavy Metal Made Easier’. The band successfully craft every one of these eleven songs into polished and pretty folk-pop songs, complete with double bass, laid back brush-drumming and a lush but restrained production that makes this whole release feel like a dreamy summers’ afternoon. Right from the off, the cheery ‘ba-da ba-da-da’ vocal line of track one completely belies the powerful chugging guitar riffs of the original ‘Hungry for Heaven’, by the late, great Dio. Elsewhere, Metallica’s martial, rhythmic anthem ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ is completely transformed into a subtle yet dark acoustic folk ballad. Lead vocalist Claudia Sorvillo’s soothing, Italian-accented voice helps to remove the songs further from their original versions of course, and if you didn’t know what was happening on this album before listening, it would very likely only be the lyrics (all reproduced exactly) that would cause a raised eyebrow or a rewind to check your ears were working.
There is some truly ingenious musical dexterity at play at certain points on Did You Mrs. Me?. Some of the most iconic musical motifs of these recognisable tracks are mutated into folky hooks which are recognisable to the trained ear, but still fit seamlessly into completely new musical surroundings, like hidden gems for attentive metal fans to discover. For example, the unmistakable triple beat drum ostinato on Slayer’s ‘Raining Blood’ replicated on subtle timpani, or the grooving outro riff of Black Sabbath’s ‘Iron Man’ performed on relaxed, airy vocals. Megadeth’s snarling, politically charged ‘Peace Sells’ is turned into a low-key jigging romp, and the shoutalong classic ‘Antisocial’ becomes the kind of piano-laced acoustic track you might hear in the background of a coffee shop. Yet throughout all of this, the listener gets the real impression that Driving Mrs. Satan are far from your average internet jokers, but are real metal fans paying homage to the greats of the genre by remodelling their hits and with great care in a way which displays the true musicality of the originals alongside the creative genius of the band themselves. In a world already full of ridiculous metal parodies, Did You Mrs. Me? stands well ahead of the pack as an album of real credibility, maturity and genuine, intelligent enjoyment.