Silent Skies is a collaboration between pianist Vikram Shankar and vocalist Tom Englund of metal bands Evergrey and Redemption. We first encountered them at Cover Me when they covered Linkin Park back in April. Now they’ve tackled Iron Maiden.
“The Trooper” is one of Iron Maiden’s few hit singles outside of the UK. In addition to nearly being a Top 10 hit in the UK for them (something that became a regular occurrence), it was a rare for them Top 40 (Modern Rock) hit in the US. It’s most famous for its knotty opening guitar salvo, its instantly recognizable main riff and the breaks right before Bruce Dickinson sings his lines in the verses.
Silent Skies’ approach is to completely undermine our expectations and fit “The Trooper” in with their self-described “Scandinavian melancholy.” Shankar plays the famous guitar riff on the piano, but much slower than in the original and, at first, it’s accompanied by nothing else. As Englund sings the lyrics, again much slower than the original, Shankar adds additional touches, a faint beat and quiet synths.
After two verses, the cover picks up a bit of steam with a drum machine and additional keyboards in the mix. But the trademark Iron Maiden gallop is completely gone, as are all the elements that make the song so quintessentially Maiden. The closest they get is when the piano drops out for the briefest of moments before Englund tackles the last verse – in that last moment there’s an echo of dynamism of the original.