Brooklyn duo Sean R. Ferguson and J. Andrew Wagstaff – Hyemen & Metalfunkel to you and I – are two American musicians with ‘an angle’. That angle is to deliver a slew of heavy metal and hard rock classics, from names as august as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest to Whitesnake and Bon Jovi, in the style of sixties folk behemoths Simon and Garfunkel (geddit?!!!). Whether this works for you or not is, of course, a matter for you and your sense of humour. And whilst this form of post-modern deconstruction isn’t exactly new – we’ve already had heavy metal lullabies and Pat Boone‘s In A Metal Mood, after all – you’d have to say that H & M have made a pretty good fist of things with Coasters.
Songwriting professionals will tell you that a great song will withstand any kind of re-interpretation, and that certainly would seem to be the case here. Whoda thunk, for instance, that Crazy Train would work as a Coffee Shop anthem à la Smelly Cat? Obviously it shouldn’t, but it does, the arrangement’s skiffle styles (possibly unwittingly) echoing Ozzy Osbourne’s background in the Birmingham jazz and blues scenes of the late sixties. Similarly, Breaking The Law, expertly pulled apart and rebuilt, serves the purpose of the project perfectly.
Ferguson and Wagstaff’s voices together don’t quite have the charm of those they seek to pastiche, but they work well enough in tandem to pull this off. So whilst Bon Jovi’s Runaway doesn’t work quite so well sans the drama of it’s original keyboard intro, Whitesnake’s Here I Go Again sounds entirely feasible when rendered as an outtake from Wednesday Morning, 3AM. All that’s required is a minimal suspension of disbelief and you’re there. And I’m willing to bet my bottom dollar that Lemmy would have loved the version of Ace of Spades included here, even if Hayseed Dixie got there first.
Whatever your thoughts on the subject of metal deconstructionism, this is well worth a listen – bite the bullet. You might enjoy it!
Coasters is out on November 1st.