9 bizarre metal cover versions that actually happened
Covering a classic metal song takes a certain amount of finesse. Usually, when a heavy track has reached some level of immortality, it has both a distinct atmosphere and plenty of working parts. A good cover of such a track usually requires a band’s own unique take on their idols’ sound without overwhelming what made the original great. As a result, it isn’t easy to find the perfect middle ground, and royal screw-ups of covers are not uncommon.
On the other hand, a band might just want to go for broke, taking things in an extreme, unique new direction, and (hopefully) having some fun with it. These covers are often the ones that fans remember the most – not only because the reimagining is hilariously at odds with the band’s initial sound, but also because their new take gives listeners a fresh perspective on their favourite songs.
Here are nine bizarre metal covers that somehow actually got made.
Link 80 – Harvester Of Sorrow (Metallica)
Arguably the most brutal track from Metallica’s classic album …And Justice For All, Harvester Of Sorrow has become a staple of the band’s live set. So, obviously, it needed a ska cover! On the 2000 compilation Punk Goes Metal, East Bay punk crew Link 80 give Harvester a pretty insane makeover, but even just the horns kicking in make the whole thing worth it.
Zwan – The Number Of The Beast (Iron Maiden)
Usually, Iron Maiden’s music is celebratory and inspiring, even when it’s about satanic occultism. But for the crystal meth-themed film Spun, Billy Corgan side project Zwan penned a melancholy version of The Number Of The Beast that gave fans a whole new perspective on the track. Plunky and plaintive, this version of the classic metal track seems to tell not just the horror story behind the lyrics, but the weary tale of the everyday dirtbag who listens to Maiden on the reg.
Andrew Hansen – Rancid Amputation (Cannibal Corpse)
Lounge death metal, it turns out, is a thing. In one of his most famous bits, musical comedian Andrew Hansen decided to “improve” Cannibal Corpse’s horrific classic Rancid Amputation. The cover is hilarious, in part because of the dichotomy between Cannibal’s lyrics and Andrew’s style, and in part because you finally get to hear just how utterly repulsive the band’s lyrics truly are.
Less Than Jake – Evil Has No Boundaries (Slayer)
Back during the heyday of ska-punk greats Less Than Jake, extreme metal was considered a weird genre for bands and their fans to make ironic reference to. But though it’s somewhat hilarious, Less Than Jake’s EP paying tribute to Slayer’s debut album Show No Mercy is actually pretty wicked. While their cover of The Antichrist is rad, it’s their cover of the album’s opener, Evil Has No Boundaries, that’s the real unexpected gem here. A rare vinyl find, but one worth your money.
Nadja – Dead Skin Mask (Slayer)
You think Dead Skin Mask – Slayer’s infamous anthem to necrophiliac murderer Ed Gein – is creepy now? Just you wait. On their cover of thrash’s spookiest song, German duo Nadja give the song a fuzzy backwoods ambience that makes the listener feel as though they’re right there with Ed, plunging a shovel into a fresh grave. Delightful and terrifying.
The Mayhems – Surfin’ Moon (Mayhem)
On paper, black metal and surf rock sound like polar opposites. However, when one Soundcloud user created a series of surf covers of famous black metal pioneers, including Darkthrone, Emperor, and of course Mayhem, they showed the world that the two sounds work incredibly well together. On no song is that more trve than their cover of Freezing Moon, in which Euronymous’ chords are somehow even spookier than before when played like Dick Dale.
Mephiskapheles – Necromantical Screams (Celtic Frost)
A ska cover of a thrash track is one thing – but a Celtic Frost song? It happened on the 1999 covers compilation I ❤ Metal, via ska-punk satanists Mephiskapheles. Not to be lumped in with all the other punk bands recording goofy hair metal covers, the band showed their love of all things truly unholy by performing a reimagined version of a track from Celtic Frost’s arch masterpiece To Mega Therion. A cover so absurd, we can’t even find it online (though we swear it exists).
Big Daddy – Welcome To The Jungle (Guns N’ Roses)
Slash in a Hawaiian shirt is an off-putting image, but after you hear this exotica version of Guns N’ Roses’ Welcome To The Jungle by cover artists Big Daddy, it’ll be burned into your memory. The track takes all the concrete out of the jungle, cribbing heavily from the Tokens’ The Lion Sleeps Tonight. That said, the use of Axl Rose’s dirty street kid lyrics with the ridiculous background music makes this one hard not to giggle at, even if it does feel like rock’n’roll blasphemy.
Tori Amos – Raining Blood (Slayer)
In all fairness, you could call this one more of a reimagining than a cover. Tori Amos went weird and ethereal with her rendition of Raining Blood. In her album Strange Little Girls, Amos depicts herself as a woman escaping the Nazis and calling upon forces from beyond to aid her. She later said that when she heard the song, she imagined “this beautiful vulva… raining blood over this abusive male force”. Fuck yeah.
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