Earlier this year, we put together a list of our picks for the 20 Best Metal Cover Songs. Due to the overwhelming positive response to the post, we decided to put together another list consisting of more of heavy metal’s top covers. The list consists of songs that just missed making our original top 20, a couple of new 2013 releases and some suggested by you, our readers. There were some absolutely awesome suggestions from the lot of you and after careful research we have put together another great lineup of covers that you absolutely have to check out. So without further adieu, let’s get started.
#20. “Centerfold” – Tankard (J. Geils Band Cover)
This one was suggested by reader The Chuck in our comments section. We checked it out and immediately loved it. Being a party style thrash band makes Tankard the perfect act to cover this. The tune from their album Stone Cold Sober sounds almost identical, but the keyboards are replaced with a fast thrash riff and obviously we get the cool raspy vocals of lead singer Andreas Geremia. What a great way to kick up an 80’s rock classic.
#19. “Sail” – DevilDriver (Awolnation Cover)
The original song by Awolnation is quite possibly one of the most annoying and overplayed rock songs of the last few years. While reviewing DevilDriver’s new album Winter Kills we heard the song and did a double take. DevilDriver was covering “Sail”! We really didn’t know what to think and then the track really kicked into gear quickly. It is truly one of the standout songs on the new album. The cover has great doom pacing, piercing lead guitar and a contrasting fast chorus riff that breaths new life into what was an awful rock song.
#18. “A View to A Kill” – Diablo (Duran Duran Cover)
Next we have another reader recommended cover song from Daniel “The Maniel”. The cover is courtesy of Finnish melodic death metallers Diablo. It’s really cool to hear this 1980’s James Bond soundtrack classic with heavy riffs and harsh vocals. Believe it or not, the Duran Duran tune lends itself well to this style of metal because of it’s melodic arrangement and excellent lyrics. Heavy metal and James Bond were always a marriage that we felt would work well and now we our wish has been answered.
#17. “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” – Flotsam and Jetsam (Elton John Cover)
Who ever thought that an Elton John song would work as a metal tune? The subject matter of fighting certainly matches well with metal, but piano is definitely something that is a bit harder to translate. On Flotsam and Jetsam’s second record, No Place For Disgrace, the thrashers took the risk and it paid off. The original fast pacing of the song was turned into a thrash riff complete with the raspy and soaring vocals of Eric A.K. and yes there was even some background piano in the song. It sounds strange, but it all works well. Thanks once again to reader The Chuck for the excellent pick.
#16. “Alone” – Warmen (Heart Cover)
The original has always been a classic mostly because of the amazing vocal range shown by Heart singers Ann and Nancy Wilson. Having said that Warmen had some pretty big shoes to fill. Guest vocalist Kimberly Goss of Sinergy was certainly up to the task. While her vocals are not quite up to par with the Wilsons, the progressive/power metal arrangement more than makes up for it. It gives the song that extra amount of heaviness that is lacking in the Heart version, while still keeping with the original overall feel of the song.
#15. “We’re An American Band” – Rob Zombie (Grand Funk Railroad Cover)
Here’s yet another new 2013 cover song from Rob Zombie’s latest effort Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor. Zombie’s version brings some welcome heaviness to the 1970’s blues rock classic while once again keeping with some of the original elements of the song, most notably the use of cowbell. This is one our picks for our list of Top Songs of 2013 and is one excellent cover song.
#14. “Aerials” – Amon Amarth (System Of A Down Cover)
Viking metal masters, Amon Amarth inject their own style into the highly popular song from alternative metal act System Of A Down on their album Surtur Rising. The heaviness is kicked up a ton and Serj Tankian’s high pitched vocals are replaced with Johann Hegg’s always well done death growls. It’s nice to see that extreme metal fans can now also enjoy what was already an amazingly well written song.
#13. “Toys in the Attic” – Metal Church (Aerosmith Cover)
Aerosmith is one of the top hard rock bands of all time and are considered by most to be a huge influence on the birth of heavy metal, so it’s only natural that a metal band would cover one of their songs. “Toys in the Attic” is one of the band’s faster paced songs, so it was the perfect tune for Bay Area thrashers Metal Church to cover. The riff on the Metal Church version from the album Masterpeace is slightly heavier and the pacing is a bit faster making for an excellent thrash tune that pays great tribute to the original.
#12. “Mountain Song” – Sepultura (Jane’s Addiction Cover)
Jane’s Addiction was one of the more popular acts during the major alternative rock boom of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Along with “Been Caught Stealing” and “Stop”, “Mountain Song” is one of their most recognizable songs. Jane’s Addiction’s approach to music and lead singer Perry Farrell’s vocal style do not seem to mesh well with metal, especially a band as heavy as Sepultura. However on their covers EP Revolusongs, somehow the thrash heavyweights were able to turn the song on its head to create one really well done metal song. In our eyes, the heavy riffs and deeper vocals of the cover are the way the song was meant to sound. We would even dare to say, it’s better than the original.
#11. “Shout” – Disturbed (Tears for Fears Cover)
Disturbed was featured in the top 10 of our list of The 20 Best Metal Cover songs for their cover of Genesis’ “Land of Confusion”. Here we once again have an excellent 1980’s cover song from the mainstream metallers. This was a song we originally considered for this same list, but in the end it lost out to what we felt was the more superior “Land of Confusion”. Now we have the chance to finally give the song its due. Of all the nu metal/alternative metal covers of 1980’s songs, Disturbed’s covers rank amongst the top. The cover from the band’s 2000 album The Sickness keeps close to the arrangement of the original, but adds in groove guitar riffs and the signature vocals of David Draiman. This is an excellent heavy cover that still manages to bring about feelings of 1980’s nostalgia.
#10. “Losing My Religion” – Graveworm (R.E.M. Cover)
This is a really excellent cover of a 1990’s R.E.M. classic from extreme/Gothic metallers Graveworm. It has an excellent combination of heaviness, great shrieked vocals and yes even piano. Graveworm breaths new life into what was once a really wimpy and boring song and turns it into a powerfully brutal tune that fits much better with the heavy subject matter of Michael Stipe’s original lyrics.
#9. “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” – Exodus (AC/DC Cover)
Thrash masters Exodus take what was already a pretty heavy hard rock song and add souped up guitars and a more featured bass line. The raspy vocals of former lead singer Steve Souza are Bon Scott-esque but are at a slightly deeper register than the original. The song can be found as a bonus track on the Japanese version of 1987’s Pleasures of the Flesh. The cover really shows off the major influence that AC/DC had on the thrash movement and heavy metal as a whole. This is a truly worthy cover of one of the best hard rock songs of all time.
#8. “No Remorse” – Cannibal Corpse (Metallica Cover)
“No Remorse” is a deep track from Metallica’s fast and heavy debut album Kill ‘Em All. Death metal heavyweights Cannibal Corpse covered it as a bonus track on the special edition of their 2002 album Gore Obsessed. They take what was already a crazy heavy song and make it even heavier by adding more distortion, slower pacing, more down tuned guitars and death metal vocals courtesy of lead singer George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher. Cannibal Corpse does so much justice to the original while still managing to make it their own. This is one of the better Metallica covers you will ever hear.
#7. “Surfin’ Bird” – Sodom (Trashmen Cover)
As a kid I can remember being subjected to tons of surf music by my dad including bands like The Beach Boys, Dick Dale and The Ventures. Man I hated listening to this stuff. Then one day he threw on “Surfin Bird” by the Trashmen and I couldn’t believe that a song this heavy came out in 1963. I realized later in life how much the fast riffs and tremolo picking of surf music really influenced punk and heavy metal and “Surfin Bird” was a huge part of that. This song lends itself so well to a thrash cover, it’s ridiculous. On their 2001 album M-16 Sodom manages to bring back memories of the original while also creating a well done metal tune with fast riffs, raspy vocals and perfect pacing. Thanks to reader
#6. “Damage Inc” – Dream Theater ft. Barney Greenway of Napalm Death (Metallica Cover)
How do you take an amazing Metallica classic like “Damage Inc.” and make it even better? Take the amazing musicianship of progressive metal pioneers Dream Theater and mix it with the harsh vocals of Napalm Death’s Barney Greenway and you get a brutal and technically perfect version that you may like even more than the original. This is literally probably the best Metallica cover song you will hear from anyone and there are a lot of Metallica covers. This was part of some club tours that Dream Theater did in the mid 1990’s where they performed covers of full albums like Master of Puppets, The Number of the Beast and Darkside of the Moon. If you look hard, you may still be able to find some of these live full length cover albums. Their version of “Damage Inc.” is certainly the cream of the crop of all their covers over the years.
#5. “After Forever” – Biohazard (Black Sabbath Cover)
Admittedly I have never been the biggest Biohazard fan. However, when I purchased Nativity In Black: A Tribute To Black Sabbath back in 1994, to my utter surprise Biohazard had the best Black Sabbath cover on the entire album. This is saying a lot with likes of Megadeth, Corrosion of Conformity, Sepultura, Faith No More and Bruce Dickinson featured on the album. This cover not only throws a hardcore edge on the doom metal track, but it’s also extremely catchy and very well arranged. I am still not really a Biohazard fan, but this will always be one of my favorite metal covers.
#4. “No Easy Way Out” – Bullet For My Valentine (Robert Tepper Cover)
Anyone who grew up in the 1980’s will remember all of the song montages in Sylvetser Stallone’s Rocky IV. The one that has always stuck with me was when Rocky took off in his Lotus after the death of his friend Apollo and had a montage of flashbacks about his time with his friend. This song stuck with me so much that I tracked it down years later and downloaded it. Before writing this, I thought it would be cool to find a cover of this, but I thought: “Who the hell would remember this song besides me?” To my pleasant surprise the guys in metalcore outfit Bullet For My Valentine remembered it. Once again, I am not their biggest fan, but this cover is awesome. They stay with the melody of the original even using keyboards while bringing a welcome amount of heaviness that fits unexpectedly well. If you are a fan of the Rocky films, you have to check this one out. It will really take you back.
#3. “Painkiller” – Death (Judas Priest Cover)
This is one of my favorite Judas Priest songs and as we all know it was a huge influence on modern power metal with its soaring riffs and high register vocals. When Metal Descent reader Gav suggested the Death cover of the song from the 1998 album The Sound Of Perseverance as one of his favorites, I was a bit skeptical. How well would a death metal version of a power metal song work? Forgetting of course that Death basically pioneered technical death metal in the 1990’s. I listened to it and was instantly hooked. The riffs are heavier, while maintaining the technical perfection of the original. Lead singer Chuck Schuldiner at this point in his career had moved away from death growls in favor of high register vocals making this the perfect cover for his new vocal style. This is one of the most accurate covers you will ever hear, but don’t worry it still has the Death signature sound all over it.
#2. “Draw the Line”/”Nobody’s Fault” – Testament (Aerosmith Covers)
Heavy metal covers of Aerosmith are usually pretty cool. The covers take really well played and well written hard rock songs from a respected band and add even more oomph to it. There have been some spectacular ones over the years, but none better than Testament’s covers of “Draw the Line” and “Nobody’s Fault”. They were both so good that I couldn’t just select one of them, so they’re both here at number two. “Draw the Line” already has heavy riffs, so it lends itself pretty well to a metal cover. Testament picks up the speed and adds in the excellent thrash style vocals of Chuck Billy. The cover can be found on Testament’s 1997 greatest hits compilation Signs of Chaos. The cover of “Nobody’s Fault”, which can be found on 1988’s The New Order was one I was a bit more skeptical about as I was wondering how Testament would handle taking the original arrangement and making it thrash. All I can say is, you have to hear it for yourself to realize how great a cover it really is.
#1. “Holy Diver” – Killswitch Engage (Dio Cover)
Here is one that I cannot believe that I forgot about on our first covers list. Love KSE or hate them, this is an excellent cover song and the official video pays a ton of tribute to the original 1980’s Dio music video. This is one of the most well known metal songs of all time and KSE does it a ton of justice. They stay true to the original sound and arrangement, while adding a great deal of heaviness courtesy of guitarists Adam Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroetzel and drummer Justin Foley. The occasional harsh vocals of Howard Jones add a very cool dynamic that was not present in the original. This track can be found on the special edition of As Daylight Dies and is easily one of the best metal covers of all time.
What is your favorite metal cover song? Leave a comment and let us know. Your pick might be featured on our next list.