#20 “Eye of the Tiger” – At Vance (Survivor Cover)
This Survivor classic from Rocky III lends itself really well to the metal sound, especially that of power metal. Therefor it was the perfect way for German metallers At Vance to introduce themselves to the power metal world on their 1999 debut, No Escape. The song boasts great high register vocals, complicated guitar riffs, and the perfect amount of added metal sound.
#19 “Faith” – Limp Bizkit (George Michael Cover)
Say what you will about Limp Bizkit and the nu metal movement as a whole, but at the time this song was absolute genius. It brought mainstream music into the world of heavy metal and helped to bring metal to the forefront of popular music in the late 1990’s. This song single handily changed the face of metal and brought it to a whole new generation. The song is loud, brash, and unpolished. It is everything that makes metal great. What happened to Limp Bizkit after their debut album, Three Dollar Bill Ya’ll, is a head scratcher, but this song will always be a testament of what could have been.
#18 “Paint it Black” – The Accused (Rolling Stones Cover)
The Rolling Stones definitely have some punk tendencies, which is why many punk and hardcore artists cite them as a major influence. Crossover thrash band, The Accused, released the cover as a 7″ single in the early 1980’s. The band takes the punk/hardcore elements of the song and brings them even further to the surface creating an aggressive and perfectly heavy version of the iconic Stones classic.
#17 “Eleanor Rigby” – Realm (Beatles Cover)
This is an interesting song for a metal band to cover because you don’t really relate it to anything remotely heavy. However progressive thrash band, Realm was able to create a perfectly heavy and well played version of the song on their debut album, Endless War, in 1988. Once again there are great high register vocals, speed metal guitars, and excellent musicianship. Once you hear this, you will never look at the song the same again.
#16 “The Ghost of Tom Joad” – Rage Against the Machine (Bruce Springsteen Cover)
When rap metal pioneers, Rage Against the Machine, released their album of cover songs, Renegades, in 2000 many expected that the album would feature strong amounts of rap and punk covers. The band delivered with covers of songs by MC5, EPMD, The Stooges and Cypress Hill to name a few. What no one expected was a cover of a rarely heard Bruce Springsteen folk song. Amazingly among all of the heavy covers on the album, this song is head and shoulders above them all. It adds a depth of aggression and feeling to the song’s message of social activism.
#15 “Blue Monday” – Orgy (New Order Cover)
The big thing in nu metal and late 1990’s metal became creating covers of 1980’s classics. Most of them were down right terrible, like “You Spin Me Right Round” by Dope and “Bullet the Blue Sky” by POD. However, the band that started this unfortunate trend actually created a perfect cover of a song by New Order that was just begging to be re-imagined. New wave music works perfect when covered by an industrial metal band as new wave serves as one of the biggest influences of this category of heavy metal. The song has a great mix of industrial synth pop sounds and heavily distorted guitars bringing the metal world a highly original cover.
#14 Light My Fire – Amorphis (The Doors Cover)
What can I say? The Doors are one of the most iconic psychedelic rock bands of all time and were a major influence on many categories of heavy metal, most notably the genre of doom metal. It was a perfect bonus track addition to Tales from the Thousand Lakes, the best album released by death/doom pioneers, Amorphis. The song is extremely heavy with growled death metal vocals, but yet manages to keep the psychedelic doom inducing sounds of the original. Even the organ is present to give it the perfect mix of new and old.
#13 “These Boots” – Megadeth (Nancy Sinatra Cover)
This is yet another unexpected heavy metal cover. The original was a very poppy song by the daughter of Frank Sinatra. It was never intended to be heavy or loud. The composer, Lee Hazelwood, even tried to have it dropped from Megadeth’s debut album, Killing is My Business…and Business is Good!, because he felt it was a perversion. Despite the pop sound, Megadeth was able to create a heavy and fast thrash metal song that is still relevant in today’s metal world.
#12 “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” – Marilyn Manson (Eurythmics Cover)
Once again we have industrial metallers covering a new wave synth pop song. However, unlike Orgy’s cover of Blue Monday, most synth pop elements are removed in favor of a darker sound giving Manson that uneasy atmosphere that he has become famous for. This cover version of the song off of 1995’s Smells Like Children can easily induce nightmares and feelings of fear. It is a great way to take an upbeat song and turn it into something heavy and dark.
#11 “Symphony of Destruction” – Arch Enemy (Megadeth Cover)
“Symphony of Destruction” is arguably the most recognizable Megadeth song. It came out at a time when Megadeth was changing their style from fast thrash metal to a more traditional root metal sound. Melodic death metal band, Arch Enemy, takes the song and adds elements of speed and brutality that were desperately lacking in the original version. It can be found on the 2004 EP, Dead Eyes See No Future, and features brutal female death metal vocals and perfect harmonized guitars. If you’re a Megadeth fan that has become indifferent to the original version, Arch Enemy’s cover will re-invigorate your love of the song.
#10 “Message in a Bottle” – Machine Head (The Police Cover)
This is an excellent cover by a very underrated neothrash band that gets lumped into nu metal all too often. It was released in 1999 on the band’s third album, The Burning Red. It brings a thrash metal edge to the song, while still keeping with the melody and slow progression of the original.
#9 “Smash” – Norther (Offspring Cover)
Whether I like to admit it or not, as a teenager I was a huge Offspring fan. As the years went on I got more and more into metal and left mainstream punk behind, but every now and again I would pull out an Offspring album and give it a nostalgia listen. As I continued to get into metal, melodic death metal became one of my favorite categories, so when I heard that Norther had done a cover of the Offspring, I had to hear this train wreck. However, what I heard was not bad at all, it was actually great. Norther takes a pop punk song and makes it all metal, while keeping the speed and beat of the original. The better musicianship and growled vocals make it seem as if the original was actually well written. You can find the song on the 2003 release Mirror of Madness.
#8 “Sweet Leaf” – Six Feet Under (Black Sabbath Cover)
Once again Chris Barnes has created an excellent cover of a classic metal song. This death metal version of the Black Sabbath tune from Six Feet Under has a great mix of brutality and melody with great guitar work and perfect harsh vocals. Barnes and the guys are able to breath new life into what was already an excellent song.
#7 “Land of Confusion” – Disturbed (Genesis Cover)
One thing you might not know about me is that besides my love of all things metal, I also have a huge appreciation for Phil Collins. I have no idea why. I think it’s probably what I heard most on the radio as a child. The video for Genesis’ “Land of Confusion” was always one of my favorites. For me it was a dream come true when I realized that there were some metal bands that were covering Collins’ material. I could have the songs I loved as a kid with a metal edge. Disturbed released this cover on their 2005 album, Ten Thousand Fists. It was the perfect time to release a cover of a song that was written originally to be critical of the Reagan administration. It translated well to what was going on in Iraq and with the presidency of George W. Bush. The cover sticks to the original quite well, while adding distortion and yelled vocals. Fans of the original and metal fans alike can appreciate this cover.
#6 “Ain’t It Fun” – Guns N’ Roses (Rocket from the Tombs Cover)
This is a great cover of the garage rock classic off of the 1993 cover album The Spaghetti Incident? Guns had a lot of great covers on this album and on other albums throughout their career, but this ranks as one of the best. It takes a punky garage song and slows down the tempo, adds more distortion, and virtuoso musicianship. The high pitched screechy vocals of Axl Rose along with the great bluesy riffs of Slash give this song a well needed make over.
#5 “Day Tripper (Medley)” – Type O’ Negative (Beatles Cover)
Gothic metal band Type O’ Negative has recorded its share of great cover songs that turn pop rock and classic rock into slow dirge metal songs. Of all the great covers, the cover of the Beatles, Day Tripper, ranks as their best. This was always one of the heavier Beatles songs and definitely lent itself well to a heavy metal cover. The addition of a slower tempo, gothic atmosphere, and added lyrics and sections give the song a much different and original feel. The track is located on the 1999 album, World Coming Down.
#4 “Burn in Hell” – Dimmu Borgir (Twisted Sister Cover)
Everyone remembers that part in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, where Pee Wee is being chased on the Warner Brothers back lot and runs right through Twisted Sister’s music video shoot for” Burn in Hell”. However, that’s really the only thing people remember about this song. It was largely forgotten about until Dimmu Borgir included a black metal cover of the track on the 2000 re-release of Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia. This version brings back memories of 1980’s childhood while adding scarier vocals and heavier guitars that better fit with a song called “Burn in Hell”. A sung chorus is still present to give that nostalgic Twisted Sister feel.
#3 “Phantom of the Opera” – Nightwish (Andrew Lloyd Webber Cover)
I saw symphonic power metal band, Nightwish, in concert for the first time in 2004. I didn’t know much about them at the time, but after this concert I became a big fan. During the encore, they began playing a cover of “Phantom of the Opera” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage play of the same name. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The operatic quality of the female vocals mixed with the harsher male vocals and the heavy guitars was like nothing I had ever heard. I came out of the show saying that someone needed to create a metal version of the play. I never realized how these classic Broadway songs could be translated this well to metal. The song is both beautiful and heavy at the same time. Check out the 2002 release, Century Child, to hear the track.
#2 “Another Day in Paradise” – C.O.D. (Phil Collins Cover)
Being a Phil Collins fan as I mentioned before, I have searched far and wide for metal covers of his work. One day I finally came across the best one of them all. This is one of Collins’ better songs, so to find a metal version was awesome and to find one that was so different from the original was refreshing. Death/doom band C.O.D. released this slowed down cover with death metal vocals on their 1996 album Monolith Empire.
#1 “Africa” – Chaos Divine (Toto Cover)
As a child of the 1980’s the song that I heard more than any was “Africa” by Toto and everyone continues to hear it on satellite radio on the 80’s channel. There are a lot of people, myself included, that have a secret appreciation for this progressive rock classic. There are few metal bands that have attempted to cover the song, but there are none better than Australian progressive metal band, Chaos Divine, who released it as an Itunes single in 2012. Progressive metal guitar riffs replace the synthesizer sound of the original while staying true to the sound. This is a perfect cover that sounds like a much heavier version of the original.
What is your favorite metal cover song? Tell us in the comments section.