When I reviewed BEATALLICA's last album, the wickedly funny "Sgt. Hetfield's Motorbreath Pub Band", some people reacted like I was the last person on earth who still thought the joke had any life left in it. BEATLES and METALLICA songs, mashed up lyrically and musically to varying degrees, with a ridiculous "whoah-ohhh-ohhh, yeaahhh" Hetfield bellow and Hammett-ized solos? For many, apparently, the shtick got old before the band even sorted out their legal issues with the two behemoths' record labels, and were merely picked-on internet superstars. I stand by my assessment, though — "Sgt. Hetfield's" remains a helluva lot of fun, and the mashups are brilliant — the "Taxman"/"Enter Sandman" mutation perhaps their finest work.
So has the concept finally run out of gas? There's no denying that a few clunkers float to the surface on "Masterful Mystery Tour". The last three songs are among the band's weakest, the Hetfield impressions border on trying too hard in many places, and for some awful reason, there's a terrible Glenn Danzig impression in "And I'm Evil?". That, and a general sense that maybe the world had heard all the BEATLES/METALLICA mashups it really needed to, originally had this CD coming in at a much lower grade.
But man, you just can't deny the cleverness at work when these guys are on. "The Thing That Should Not Let It Be" would be pants-pissin' funny just as a disembodied song title — but these bastards merge "Let It Be" and "The Thing That Should Not Be", musically and lyrically, with flawless chops, an atmosphere that manages to recall both of the original songs at once, and a keen eye for the funny. They make it look easy — so much so, of course, that haters often bash the band for relying on a cheap gimmick because they're not talented enough to write their own songs. I doubt you'll hear too many musicians throwing out such a ludicrous complaint -- anyone with a passing knowledge of playing or songwriting should recognize the serious craft that goes into putting these musical mash-ups together so seamlessly. Besides, I imagine BEATALLICA are having way too much fun to listen to a few grumpy Internet cranks.
Other highlights include "Got to Get You Trapped Under Ice", the title track, and the masterfully-done "Hero of the Day Tripper" — both indicators that while the concept may be showing a little wear and tear, BEATALLICA are still more than capable of bringing their A-game and turning a few more classic tunes on their ear. I guess it all comes down to your personal tolerance level — but if you're still on board, and want some more of the band's twisted, hilarious alchemy, they're still primed to deliver the goods.