11 underground metal covers of well-known songs you need to hear
Rock and metal bands covering popular music is nothing new. But when the underground gets involved, that’s when things really get interesting. Whether they’re paying homage to their heroes, distorting a classic through their own unique lens, or just exploring different avenues of style and sound, it’s a chance for these artists to get creative… and sometimes even surpass the originals. Here are some of our favourites.
LINGUA IGNOTA – Jolene (Dolly Parton)
Jolene has been covered many times since its release in 1973 (in fact, you should also check out A.A. Williams’ stripped-back take on Dolly’s country classic). But never quite like this: through the prism of LINGUA IGNOTA’s (aka Kristin Hayter) operatic howls and haunting piano, it morphs and transforms into a disturbing yet glorious take that’s rich with raw emotion.
Enslaved – Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin)
All together now: ‘The hammer of the gods / We’ll drive our ships to new lands / To fight the horde / And sing and cry / Valhalla, I am coming!’ With lyrics like that, surely there’s no better band than epic Norwegian extreme metallers Enslaved to cover Led Zeppelin’s classic, giving it a Viking metal makeover – which, as we all know, is the best kind.
Baroness and Mutoid Man – Purple Rain (Prince)
In a wonderfully unexpected turn of events, Baroness’ John Dyer Baizley and Mutoid Man – who feature members of Converge and Cave In – joined forces to cover Purple Rain on metal talk show Two Minutes To Late Night back in 2017. Paying a punk rock tribute to the late pop legend, while also giving us the collaboration we never knew we needed.
Type O Negative – Cinnamon Girl (Neil Young)
Many bands have covered Neil Young’s summery ’70s classic, from Hole to Smashing Pumpkins. But did any of them turn it into a sultry goth dancefloor banger? No, they did not. And that is why, amongst many other reasons, we must give thanks for Peter Steele.
Neurosis – Day Of The Lords (Joy Division)
Day Of The Lords is taken from Neurosis’ second album, 1990’s The Word As Law, where the Californians loosened their hardcore/punk roots to begin their journey towards pioneering post-metal. It’s fitting then that they covered post-punks Joy Division, another band whose unique vision would help initiate a new subgenre.
Ulver – Today (Jefferson Airplane)
From their early days of black metal to their more recent electronic forays, Norwegian heavyweights Ulver are masters of left-turns, and in 2012 they released an entire album of covers called Childhood’s End. An ode to the deep cuts of hazy 1960s psychedelia including The Byrds and The Pretty Things, their delicate take on Jefferson Airplane’s folk rock ballad is particularly mesmerising.
Thou – Misfits covers set at Roadburn
Tilburg’s Roadburn Festival always serves up the goods when it comes to exciting collaborations and creative covers set, and they really upped their game when U.S. sludge metallers Thou did a full Misfits covers set in a skate park, including cameos from Emma Ruth Rundle and Converge’s Nate Newton. If you missed it, you can watch the whole thing online. That’s almost as good as being there… right?
Anna Von Hausswolff – Gloomy Sunday (Billie Holiday)
Gloomy Sunday was originally composed in 1933 by Rezső Seress, and its despairing lyrics about the horrors of war and allusions to suicide led to it being dubbed the ‘Hungarian suicide song’. Billie Holiday recorded the definitive popular version in 1941, but Swedish avant-garde artist Anna von Hausswolff makes it her own with her otherworldly soprano and eerie organ.
Opeth – Soldier Of Fortune (Deep Purple)
This Deep Purple deep cut was never one of their big hitters, but developed a cult following and was covered by the likes of Black Majesty and Whitesnake. But it was Swedish prog metallers Opeth’s elegant take on the blues-rock ballad that proved to be truly spellbinding, led by Mikael Åkerfeld’s soulful vocals.
Paradise Lost – Missing (Everything But The Girl)
Yorkshire gothic death-doom legends Paradise Lost must love putting their gloomy stamp on songs: they’ve covered The Smiths, Bronski Beat and Atomic Rooster, to name but a few. Their cover of indie duo Everything But The Girl’s biggest hit Missing – ’90s kids will remember – drenches it in a somber haze.
Wristmeetrazor – Black Planet (Sisters Of Mercy)
A far cry from their usual abrasive outpourings (what do you expect with a band name like Wristmeetrazor!?), the gnarly screamo crew’s cover of the Brit legends’ Black Planet is so good that it makes us wonder if the guys should go full-on goth on their next album…
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