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Buddha Lounge Ensemble – Renditions Of Metallica

I found this at the local Wally World (since I now have nowhere else to go for music in this sad little town) and I just started laughing. I mean, what a great concept! Who wouldn’t love a new look at the classic songs of Metallica? How could I not bring this home?

We put it in the car stereo as soon as we got to the parking lot, and it’s awesome! This is kind of like those Lullabye renditions of songs for babies, but much more than that too. This goes way beyond trippy xylophones. Whoever the Buddha Lounge Ensemble is, I think they may have really hit on something here.

These instrumentations are fascinating. There’s (of course) a real Eastern feel to these tracks, laid-back and yet complex at the same time. All the main parts are here (no vocals though, except some chanting in the background), they’re just turned around to sound like they came right out of India. Sweet! I don’t know how much this has to do with mysticism or Buddhism, but to hear these songs done in this way is really pretty awesome.

I like that they’ve pulled tracks from the entire career of the band, right up to and including St. Anger. And they haven’t picked just hits, either. Of course, it could just be that they’ve chosen favourite songs of their own, or the ones they could manage to figure out how to play, but still, it’s a neat smattering of songs. Looking more closely, it might be noted that a lot of the tracks they’ve chosen (although not all) are the band’s slower efforts, which tend to sound vaguely like this anyway… Still, it’s neat!

NB: I don’t care who does it, or how, but it’s my contention that One is one of the creepiest songs ever. Even the version here made my skin crawl.

This set also points out something else worth mentioning, that this CD is further proof of the brilliance of Metallica’s songwriting. I mean, here’s a bunch of people calling themselves the “Buddha Lounge Ensemble,” (that name makes them sound like they’re fresh graduates of the Elevator Music School of Idiocy), who took the songs of a much-lauded heavy metal/Bay-area thrash band and (effortlessly, so it seems) made them their own. Yes, it means the Ensemble is competent, but if the songs hadn’t been untouchable in the first place, this project would have failed miserably.

I highly recommend this CD, if only to shake up your world view a little bit. Play it loud (which is the best way to approach any Metallica song). It just works.

There’s a whole bunch more of these discs in a series, like Led Zeppelin (which would totally work, with this type of feel), AC/DC (which may not work so well, but who knows?), the Beatles (haha it could work but hasn’t this already been done ten times?) and Coldplay (as if I could give a shit), among others. Based on what I’ve heard of this Metallica tribute, though, I think I’ve just discovered another whole new vein of favourite tunes…

Track Listing:
01 The Four Horsemen
02 For Whom The Bell Tolls
03 The Thing That Should Not Be
04 Fade To Black
05 One
06 Enter Sandman
07 The Unforgiven
08 Nothing Else Matters
09 Until It Sleeps
10 Mama Said
11 St. Anger

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