It’s pretty much become a cliché for artists to cite classic acts like the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and/or the Rolling Stones as a major influence. I mean, if a massive pop star like Justin Bieber is paying tribute to the Fab Four by covering “Let It Be,” then the wide-reaching impact of those three acts (and other greats) is apparent. As a result, the citing of Zeppelin kind of comes with an air of, “OK, great, but did you just listen to them or were you actually paying attention to their music?” In the case of New York newcomers Heavy English, it’s clear that they were doing the latter.
The band was first brought to my attention in an article by the Huffington Post, where they made a pretty huge claim about Heavy English melting faces with their Zeppelin cover. That headline alone captivated me, though the idea of watching another YouTube cover left me feeling less than excited. Too often these videos are of artists trying too hard to inject their own “self” into the track, which is really just a remake.
Instead, Heavy English paid homage with a right-for-the-throat take on “Since I’ve Been Loving You” that would definitely impress Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Bonham and John Paul Jones. It should make any diehard Zep fan proud, too, just as long as you’re listening with the right speakers. I tried playing it through my tinny laptop speakers (yeah, never do that) before shooting the music through my actual setup (a powerful lil’ speaker called the Ultimate Ears Boom Wireless). Needless to say, Heavy English’s “Since I’ve Been Loving You” certainly left me feeling close to speechless.
The NY trio is made up of singer/guitarist Sal Bossio, drummer Dan Gluszak, and bassist Ari Sadowitz. If those first two names look familiar, you probably know them for their work in former hardcore outfit Envy On The Coast. Putting their harsher ways behind them, Bossio and Gluszak (with the help of Sadowitz) have concocted a sound closer to alt-rock’s approach of combining hook-y vocals with heavy riffs. That’s apparent on their debut single, “21,” which has steadily been making the rounds on terrestrial and Internet radio. The track has nods toward Zeppelin’s poppiest moments, but as you may imagine the connection is closer in the cover itself.
Bossio handles the duties of both Page and Plant here. And as you’ll see once you watch the video, he does so with an apparent ease. His vocals sound so close to Plant’s patented howls that you sometimes think you’re listening to early basement recordings of Zeppelin. Not only that, but Bossio slays the guitar work like Page himself. It doesn’t hurt that his rhythm section keeps up with him, particularly Gluszak, who pounds the hell out of his drums like a true Bonham acolyte.
At a time when it feels as if alt-rock—and rock music in general—has strayed from its roots, bands such as Heavy English are comforting, if not refreshing. It’s not that they’re the great hope for rock ‘n’ roll or anything like that, because, really, who would want to even be called that? It’s simply that they’re not afraid of mixing their classic rock tendencies with a more modern approach. It’s a killer example of learning from your masters and expanding into different territory without aping the ones who taught you along the way. Here’s hoping that Heavy English continue making headlines for their own music.
Kevin Gannon is a recent college graduate with a degree in English and a strong passion for writing and music. His favorite bands are Queens of the Stone Age, The Melvins, and Led Zeppelin.
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