OFFICIAL VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiDTStbuLjQ
“Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” is going to please a lot of ears thanks to it being a superb adaptation of a song from one musical style to another. Black 9 has taken the sinewy classic rock vibe of Tom Petty’s original recording, revamped the number as a dyed in the wool metal number, and avoided the tired trappings weighing down a lot of the band’s contemporaries. Some might superficially associate the band with the recent spate of female fronted metal acts, but their take on “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” shows off a level of flexibility few of those bands share with Black 9. It’s quite a feat how the band manages to nail both some of the straight forward guitar groove of the original, despite overpowering riffing and heavy distortion, and give their vision of the song some of the same character as a musical bulldozer.
Many will be surprised by the vocals. Aven Roth’s singing snaps you to instant attention when she enters the song and she really peaks with each payoff. The full-throated fire she brings with the chorus and its preceding buildup will surprise fans of the original with its emotional impact and Aven is the driving force behind that. She gives so much of herself over to this performance that you can’t help but wonder what sort of personal experience matches it in his own story – the vocal carries that kind of dramatic weight. Naturally, at the end of it all, it may just be a superbly realized vocal, but its backed-against-a-wall desperation is impossible to ignore.
The hard-nosed riffing filling much of the song keeps a lot of the melodic sound heard in Petty’s original, but the more abrasive sound of the hard rock or metal style does give it more ballast somehow without ever dragging it down. This guitar first approach culminates in Tiffany Marsten’s concluding guitar solo and ending the track on such a note will please a lot of listeners thanks to Marsten’s ability to seize the dramatic moment. She, thankfully, never overplays – even the bit of flash she throws into the performance only serves to color her guitar attack and never risk the sort of hackneyed result we might expect from lesser musicians.
Even if you end up not liking their take on the classic song, “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” is undeniably the product of a talented band coming together and demonstrating a capacity for surprise that too few bands possess in the modern era. Some say rock music is on the run, receding into the past, reeling in the wake of hip hop and pop country as commercial forces. You can be grateful that Black 9 never listened – instead, they take on this style with enough personality and intelligence to dare something different with its conventions. “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” isn’t an original composition, but it will win over a lot of new converts for the band with a single listen and signals the upcoming release Cruel History is well worth watching for.