How dare you meddle in rock and metal perfection!
There are songs that should never be covered, whether because they were done perfectly the first time or because that initial release is irrefutably synonymous with its creator.
Well, that’s what many music fans think, anyway. As usual, the rules were meant to be broken, and that applies here too.
Yes, many attempts to reinvent ostensibly untouchable compositions fail (just listen to the massacre of “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Kayne West or the blasphemous revision of “Comfortably Numb” by the Scissor Sisters).
That said, the following 10 leads prove just how well it can be done. We are not saying that these versions are necessarily better than their predecessors; however, given how revered and definitive the originals have become, these artists deserve applause for courageously and effectively giving their all.
Vader, “Blood Rain”
Originally by Slayer
Slayer’s melody is extremely fast and vicious, so it’s a testament to the Polish death metal ensemble that they are capable of upping the ante on both fronts. As well as replacing recurring weather effects with piercing guitar feedback, their slightly shorter live variation – from 1994 So that EP – is overall faster and meaner.
Frontman Piotr “Peter” Wiwczarek imbues every word with raucous vehemence as his bandmates launch into a relentless rush of bestial impatience. Interestingly they did it again for 2008s Guide us!!! EP, in which they added precipitation and tweaked the production. Neither tops Slayer’s offering, but both are very respectable efforts.
Ghost, “Enter Sandman”
Originally by Metallica
Regardless of division Metallic (a.k.a The black album) is among Metallica fans, opener “Enter Sandman” is undeniably one of their greatest compositions. So, it took a lot of guts to get the equally polarizing Ghost heading there for 2021. The Metallica Blacklist.
Imaginatively, they convert it into a pious piano ballad before bursting out into a fiery but typically danceable, chic and luscious performance. It’s also successfully compact, with an extraordinary compromise between fidelity and idiosyncratic innovation. Although a few other artists — including Weezer, Juanes, and Rina Sawayama — also copied “Enter Sandman” for the collection, Ghost beat them by a mile.
The psych rock vibes of Jefferson Airplane are exceptionally far removed from the trash metal ethos of Sanctuary. Of course, that didn’t stop the latter group from tackling “White Rabbit” in 1988. Shelter Deniedand luckily they succeeded.
Longer than the original, its overture presents the biggest surprise, as the expected harsher percussion and fiercer guitar work is complemented by vocalist Warrel Dane’s new foreword (“Little Alice does drugs again / They bent her little mind”).
Then it’s a commendable one-for-one copy with dignified histrionic vocals and biting instrumentation. Dane’s last echo song (“She is dead“) is a nice touch, too.
The best covers often happen when a band goes way beyond their wheelhouse, which is what Amon Amarth did with this bonus track from the 2011 iTunes edition. Surtur Rising. They immediately dipped into darker territory via somewhat modified intro arpeggios. Then they filter SOAD’s template into their signature melodic death metal exuberance.
Johan Hegg’s guttural narrative, alongside the constantly furious arrangement, leads to a less nuanced and heartbreaking result, but their dynamic anger is alluring and commendable nonetheless. Even better, their distinctiveness shines through, providing a better option than simply making an exact copy just to prove they can.
The first two-part album Nativity in Black: A Tribute to Black Sabbath The series is full of awesome adaptations, but Type O Negative’s delivery of “Black Sabbath” is hard to beat.
While the original is typically brooding yet calmly hypnotic, the American Troupe’s embellishment is rife with goth/doom metal gravity and playful weirdness. Plus – and as the title suggests – they drastically change the lyrics while cleverly alluding to Black Sabbath’s storytelling. (For instance, “Large black shape with fiery eyes” bECOMES “I am the shadow – with eyes, eyes of fire. “) It’s an ingenious redesign.
Ronnie James Dio + Yngwie Malmsteen, “Dream On”
Originally by Aerosmith
This one is from 1999 Tribute to Aerosmith: Not the same old song and dance, and it mirrors their cut very closely (it even has an identical runtime). In fact, it’s nearly indistinguishable from the previous version initially. However, it doesn’t take long for Malmsteen to leave his mark with a bit of shredding before Dio kicks off the opening verse via his usual operatic rudeness.
From there, Malmsteen’s six-string theatrics and Dio’s stacked harmonies continue to add weight and individuality while collaborators Stu Hamm (bass), Gregg Bissonette (drums) and Paul Taylor (guitars/ keyboards) provide a tribute of impressive precision and intensity.
The closing track from Death’s final studio album (1998 The sound of perseverance), “Painkiller” is essentially the band’s swan song. As a remarkably accurate emulation of the Judas Priest classic, it’s a pretty impressive way to cap off their legacy.
Sure, the vocals are arguably a little less shrill (and a little more sinister), the absence of some theatrical productions – like a lack of dual vocals – makes it more straightforward, and the flashy guitar work halfway through is slightly different. Nevertheless, it is a very a meticulous recreation that infuses enough Death DNA to fit in with the rest of the record.
Avenged Sevenfold, “Wish You Were Here”
Originally by Pink Floyd
It would be foolish to try to eclipse the warm perfection of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.” Fortunately, Avenged Sevenfold’s attempt – from 2016 The scene – doesn’t.
Instead, it exudes the affection and precision of a braver tribute. Granted, they leave out the preliminary radio chatter of the 1975 rendition, and the percussion, vocals, and guitar solo in the middle of the song are a little heavier, but pretty much everything else is as faithful as it gets.
Even the piano work is perfect, while the marching drums towards the end provide an ingenious change. So, kudos to A7X for respectfully helping introduce Pink Floyd to a younger generation.
Taken from the 2008 single “Burden” and the Watershed sessions, “Would?” from Opeth is a lovingly devoted cover of the Alice in Chains staple. Naturally, it’s sleeker and less, well, grungy, with frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt’s angelically painful crooning contrasting nicely with the gruff outline of the late Layne Staley.
Moving on to the arrangement, it’s commensurately softer (particularly in regards to Martín Méndez’s more subtle bass playing), with revised guitar solos that lean towards the characteristic Swedish gothic desperation. Honestly, it wouldn’t be wrong to prefer it over the original because Opeth does such a good job of making it its own.
Led Zeppelin are one of the most famous – albeit controversial – classic rock bands, so pretty much everything they’ve done is sacred. Considering how trippy, groovy and sublime “No Quarter” is, it makes sense that Tool put their own spin on it.
recorded during the Ænima sessions he landed on the 2000s Saliva box set, and the vastly extended runtime exudes the quartet’s penchant for industrial psychedelia, alternative metal, and the like. In particular, numerous lyrical alterations – in conjunction with plenty of progressive jamming and Maynard James Keenan’s familiar ethereal tone – turn it into a mind-bending journey as only Tool could provide.