Beatallica - Abbey Load
2013 Oglio Entertainment Group
Ray Van Horn, Jr.
The legend of Milwaukee genre splicers Beatallica is familiar to most rock fans, the most important fact being that they have the endorsements of both Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield behind them. Their fans are known globally as "heshers" and "Beatallibangers." Not too shabby for a Spinal Tap-ish pseudo career that began as a contest parody and took an improbable life of its own. If you're one of the unlikely souls coming across this review without knowing who or what Beatallica is, then one gander at the artwork of their fourth official album, Abbey Load should be indicative of what you're in for.
In the past, Beatallica has presented a cement head's (if mostly harmless) alter vision of famous Beatles songs played in the static key of "ca." At times, Beatallica have wielded some hilarious nuggets such as "Hey Dude," "Leper Madonna," "Got to Get You Trapped Under Ice" and "I Want to Choke Your Band." Their sheer balls for issuing All You Need is Blood on repeat in thirteen languages is likewise a high point, albeit that's only saying so much. If the components of Beatallica weren't sharp musicians coming into this ridiculous venture, they would've been cast away into the ether of a novelty act phantom zone where Dread Zeppelin and Napoleon Bonaparte have long been banished. Their last album Masterful Mystery Tour from 2009 was not a bad lightning ride from these fools banging from the proverbial hill. It seemed like Beatallica had engineered a riotous coda from which they probably should've carried their weight to an appropriate fade to black.
Enough wasn't enough, though, and this year Beatallica resurfaces once again with Abbey Load. Frankly, if you're thinking the title hints at material more watered down than a Coors Light, trust your instincts. While there are some fun bits of thrash midway through the end of the album, it's evident by the fact Beatallica has this time laid down a strict cover album of Beatles cuts they're in a quandary. With no real attempt to weave some of their trademark title and lyrical scrambles into their goob goob ga-growl Eggman platters, it merely posits the band has run out of cooking gas.
Abbey Load is merely Beatles familiars given the amplified treatment with a heavy concentration of Metalli-riffs grabbed from the latter's Load couplet. For example, "Until it Sleeps" winks into the Beatles' "Golden Slumbers" and Beatallica thus keeps the track rolling in low key with a thin resemblance to the original song. That's the general status quo to this album.
Beatallica ho-hums through a grungy and blasé take of "Come Together" while they limp through "I Saw Her Standing There," "Help!" and "Please Please Me" with bloodless riffs and the now-tiresome yo-ooooo Hetfield impressions conducted by Jaymz Lennfield. Let's not go there with "Michelle," ripped asunder (with seemingly intentional poor execution) by the crunch of Metallica's "For Whom the Bell Tolls." In this case, Beatallica invites you to snicker over their lone external interjection, a morphed chorus tweak, "for whom Michelle tolls." Yeah, they went there. Sorry, but these cuts are just nowhere, man.
The album's highlight is a somewhat serious (and well-performed) instrumental take on "Blackbird" yielding a smidge of metal warping to Beatallica's acoustic parlay. Okay, it is genuinely funny to hear "She Came In Through the Bathroom Window" and "Carry that Weight" thrown through Beatallica's grinding wind tunnels. Yet Abbey Load represents an end of the line moment for these Metalligoofs, at least on record. There's a bald absence of the creative zeal that made Masterful Mystery Tour and Sgt. Hetfield's Motorbreath Pub Band pretty danged funny joints.
What really reeks on Abbey Load, however, is the band's swipe from Megadeth's "Bad Omen" in the midst of transition between "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam." They've already teased their listeners by tooling well-familiar rolling riffs into "Mean Mr. Mustard" found in Metallica's "Four Horsemen" and Megadeth's "Mechanix." You know, the same songwriting split over two different groups' tunes that continues to fuel the wrath of scrumming pundits over who won the battle of Dave Mustaine's work. Followed by the "Bad Omen" hijack, you're not sure if this is gonzo stuff or if Beatallica's opened a can of worms they sure as hell didn't need to now that the Metalli-deth war has been put to rest. Moreover, is Mustaine going to have a sense of humor that some of his fiercest licks bred in the midst of that long-ago feud has been ripped by a Metallica joke band? You understand Beatallica's jibe, but is this indeed a bad omen? Probably. Bad taste, for certain. Beatllica may want to keep Lars Ulrich's proffered retainer money handy.
Sad but true, Abbey Load has pushed the Beatallica farceur vehicle as far as it's going to go. Once a pretty funny and talented band of metalhead pranksters, their diehard Beatallicabangers may delight in this album but there's no denying Abbey Load is flatter than a highway flip cat. These guys will probably sustain themselves as Friday and Saturday night bar sensations since nothing opens beer bottles faster than a good party onstage, but their future memory is in danger of remaining only in theory. Like the epochal piano crash at the end of "A Day in the Life," this is done.