From Hell’s Heart:
Top 5 metal versions of non metal songs
The idea for these lists is simple; when a metal band takes a song that isn’t metal, and turns it into a metal song! We asked our staff what cover songs were the coolest and this is the result.
This was a tough one to choose! In my collection I have over 50 tribute albums and roughly the same number of covers albums that bands have released. That is over 1000 cover tunes right there, (100 albums X 10 song each, average) let alone the 1000’s of other cover songs that just appear on regular albums. There are so many fun, ‘novelty’ covers like ‘Mr. Sandman’ by Blind Guardian, or ‘Opps, I Did It Again’ by Children Of Bodom or any number of classical music covers, Christmas songs, Beatles covers, Gene Simmons doing Disney songs…it is overwhelming. Choosing five was almost an impossible task so I decided to go with some of my old favourite bands.
1. MANOWAR-Lady Marmalade (1999) (Trad.) (Originally appeared on the Live In France EP / bonus disc with Hell On Stage)
Who said Manowar does not have a sense of humour? This fun, sloppy, live version of the sexy French classic song (aka Voulez-vouz Choucher Avec Moi, Ce Soir?) shows Manowar having fun with some hilarious crown/stage banter and of course raging double-kick drums! Manowar is not known for covers so this is extra special,the original composer should be honoured that Manowar covered the song.
2. W.A.S.P.-Locomotive Breath (1989) (originally by Jethro Tull) (Originally appeared as a B-Side on the Mean Man single)
This mean, fast, dark version of the anti-substance abuse tune gets the full W.A.S.P treatment and is especially poignant considering what the band was going through at the time. Of the couple dozen covers W.A.S.P. has done over the past 30 years, this is one of my favourites. Frankie Banali really drives this locomotive with his perfect overplaying. The song really sounds like it is going off the rails. Notice the cover train/drug reference I just did.
3. YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN-Gimme, Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (2000) (originally by Abba) (Originally appeared as an unreleased bonus track on the Compilation, Best Of Yngwie Malmsteen:1990-1999)
A brilliant and speedy rendition of the timeless, pop classic. Sung by Mark Boals, they just slay the original. They wisely change the chorus to ‘Gimme Your Love After Midnight’, to avoid the homo-erotic undertones of men singing the chorus of ‘Gimme A Man After Midnight’. The original versions runs under five minutes while Yngwie’s version adds over a full minute of bonus fireworked shred. This song has been covered by Doro, Sinergy, Mago De Oz, Beseech, Stormwind and more but Yngwie’s version blows them all away.
4. SONATA ARCTICA-Wind Beneath My Wings (2001) (originally by Bette Midler) (Originally appeared on the Orientation EP)
I never heard this song until I heard The Sonata Arctica version but it is such a strong pop song with catchy parts and an infectious chorus that it instantly became a favourite of mine. Tony’s voice os crystal clear in a pop song that lyrically transcends gender. We all have that hero.
5. NORTHERN KINGS-Training Montage (2008) (originally by Vince DeCola appearing on the Rocky IV film soundtrack) (Originally appeared on the Rethroned album)
In my experience, very few people, especially in North America, know about the Northern Kings. This epic, symphonic, all-star Power Metal band consisting of four Finnish vocalists, Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica), Marco Hietala (Nightwish), Jarkko Ahola (Terasbetoni) and Juha-Pekka Leppaluto (Charon) have put out two full albums of cover tunes of 80’s pop songs and they are all glorious and majestic. Leading off the album with the quintessential 80’s montage song (sans vocals) was a brave and adventurous choice and their version is, as expected, epic and symphonic.
MANOWAR-Sting Of The Bumble Bee
ANVIL-Flight Of The Bumble Beast
THE GREAT KAT-Flight Of The Bumble Bee
EXTREME-Flight Of The Wounded Bumble Bee
DREAM THEATER-Flight Of The Bumble Bee
Honourable album mention:
POWERGLOVE-Saturday Morning Apocalypse. What could be more Metal than an entire covers album of Saturday morning cartoon show theme songs?
I prefer metal covers of metal songs where the band put their own stamp on it. When it’s a cover, that I don’t even realize is a cover, I tend to love it even more!
1. Megadeth – “These Boots Are Made for Walkin'”
The original version of this silly pop song was written by Lee Hazlewood (who thought Megadeth’s cover was a “perversion” hahah – screw that guy) and recorded by Nancy Sinatra. It was released way back in 1966, and perplexingly went to No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and in the UK Singles Chart. Megadeth’s take on this song comes from the very first Megadeth album – 985’s Killing Is My Business… and Business Is Good! I didn’t realize this was a cover for quite some time. When I found out, I thought, now that’s how ya do it…make it your own. I have yet to hear a better take on song in terms of taking the original and beating it into a metallic song all your own.
2. Judas Priest “The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown) (Fleetwood Mac) 1970
Another perfect example of a band putting their style on a cover that was never metal.
3. Celtic Frost “Mexican Radio”
“Mexican Radio” is a song written and performed by the band Wall of Voodoo, and produced by Richard Mazda. The track was initially made commercially available on their 1982 album Call of the West. The line “Eating barbecued iguana” from Celtic Frost version was always something that made me laugh or smile. A weird and catchy cover by one of the greats.
4. Gamma Ray – It’s a Sin (pet shop boys)
They definitely put their stamp on it. Again, I didn’t even know it was a cover for a while….not as if I’d recognize a pet shop boys song! ha!
5. Judas Priest- Diamonds and Rust (Originally from a 1975 album by Joan Baez)
Megadeth “I Ain’t Superstitious” (Willie Dixon/Howlin’ Wolf)
Morgana Lefay – Voulez Vouz (ABBA)
1 Graveworm – Losing My Religion [REM]
2 Praying Mantis – All Day and All of the Night [The Kinks]
3 Avantasia – Dancing With Tears in My Eyes [Ultravox]
4 Atrocity – Don’t You Forget About Me [Simple Minds]
5 Amorphis – Light My Fire [The Doors]
Honorable mention: 5 Accused – Devil Woman [Cliff Richard]
1. Ghost- Waiting for the Night (Depeche Mode)
2. Judas Priest- Diamonds and Rust (Joan Baez)
3. Tribulation- One Hundred Years (The Cure)
4. Megadeth- These Boots (Nancy Sinatra)
5. Anthrax- Antisocial (Trust)
1. HIM “Wicked Game” (Chris Isaak) – 1998
This is the song that opened the gates of fame for the best selling Finnish band. It was a commercial success in Finland, Germany and was already a glimpse of their unique Goth/Love metal style at that time.
2. Rammstein “Stripped” (Depeche Mode) – 1998
This song was originally part of the Depeche Mode tribute album “For the Masses”. Then, the German released it as a single which became a commercial success in their native country. The video clip was very controversial, leading to threats and accusations of NS sympathies against the band.
3. Marilyn Manson “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” (Eurythmics) – 1995
This cover song was a landmark in Mr. Manson’s career as it was his first hit single that helped him to enter the mainstream scene. It was originally recorded for the “Smells Like Children” EP.
4. Angra “Wuthering Heights” (Kate Bush) – 1993
“Angels Cry” is Angra’s first masterpiece and considered as a classic of power metal. But their fans often forget that the Brazilian did this great cover song which is far better than the original version by the way. Andre Matos was amazing at that time, proving that female vocals are useless in this musical style. One of the best heavy metal voices for sure.
5. Moonspell “Sacred” (Depeche Mode) – 1998
Charismatic vocalist Fernando Ribeiro has always been a proud admirer of Dave Gahan. So, the Portuguese decided to do this excellent cover song for their “2econd Skin” single.
Moonspell “Love will tear us apart” (Joy Division) – 2001
Drastisch “Maria Magdalena” (Sandra) – 2003
It’s a fun poll this time, but also very hard to narrow it down to so few. So many great covers out there. By the way, have you noticed how may metal bands have covered Depeche Mode?
1. LORD – On a night like this (Kylie Minogue)
Not only did they nail the budgie’s song, but they also created a brilliant video.
2. Nightwish – Over the Hills and far away (Gary Moore)
3. Ensiferum – Rasputin (Boney M)
4. Edguy – Hymn (Ultravox)
5. Northern Kings – A View to a Kill (Duran Duran)
And special mentions for all the ABBA covers which deserved its own poll:
1. Nation – Waterloo
2. Avantasia – Lay all your love on me (ABBA)
3. Sinergy – Gimme Gimme Gimme
4. Yngwie Malmsteen feat. Mark Boals – Gimme Gimme Gimme
5. At Vance – Money Money Money
Other special mentions:
After Forever – One Day I’ll Fly Away (Randy Crawford)
Vanishing Point – On The Turning Away (Pink Floyd)
Black Majesty – Six Ribbons (Jon English)
Lacuna Coil – Enjoy the Silence (Depeche Mode)
Sonata Arctica – World in My Eyes (Depeche Mode)
Edguy – Rock Me Amadeus (Falco)
Children of Bodom – Jessie’s Girl (Rick Springfield)
Tarot – Veteran of the Psychic Wars (Blue Oyster Cult)
Metal bands have long paid tribute to their heroes and inspirations, whether they be other metal bands or artists from other genres. When choosing an non-metal song, the expectation is to make the song metallic while making it fit the band’s style. The other expectation is to pick something that is at least somewhat obscure, or completely out of left-field rather than another cover of an endlessly covered song. I could easily have made this list 20 or more songs, but at some point you have to draw a line. The songs below represent unique choices by the covering bands, along with each band’s unmistakable stamp on the song that reflects their own style while remaining within at least the same ballpark as the original.
1. Judas Priest “The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown) (Fleetwood Mac) 1978
Talk about metalizing a song. The definitive Priest version is of course on UNLEASHED IN THE EAST. There are few more magical moments in metal then when Halford vocally mimics the guitar line at the end of the song with his patented wail. One of his finest moments.
2. Celtic Frost “Mexican Radio” (Wall Of Voodoo) 1983
Proof positive that Celtic Frost were ahead of their time when covering bizarre songs. Many, many bands like Children of Bodom and others would emulate Frost and go on to cover silly pop artists like Britney Spears. The band obviously thought highly of it, putting it as the lead-off track to their seminal album INTO THE PANDEMONIUM. Fischer and the boys added some crunch to the song while still retaining some of the humor of the original. Not an easy feat.
3. Type O Negative “Summer Breeze” (Seals and Crofts) 1972
Ha! It took Type O Negative to make this song tolerable. Pete sounds so serious on it and yet you know he is probably laughing his ass off inside. How he did it with a straight face, I have no idea. I like his altering of the lyrics too. TON would do many more covers, but this one was the first and best. “Cinnamon Girl” gets an honorable mention too.
4. Sancutary “White Rabbit” (Jefferson Airplane) 1967
Thus begins Warrel Dane’s uncanny ability to metalize non-metal songs and imbue them with his or his bands’ unmistakable styles, such as here and with Nevermore, or on his solo album with “Lucretia (My Reflection)”. Dave Mustaine’s guest solo to open the song is among the best the man has ever recorded, and the song intensifies at the end with an extra dose of chugging heaviness that makes a mentally broken song even darker.
5. Megadeth “I Ain’t Superstitious” (Willie Dixon/Howlin’ Wolf) 1961
Lot’s of folks would probably opt for the hilarious cover of “These Boots”, which got Dave into some copyright trouble with Nancy Sinantra. That is a killer tune too, but Megadeth totally metalizes the original Willy Dixon version, which comes with insanely fast guitar fills delivered with Dave’s snarling humor.
Nevermore “Silent Hedges/DoubleDare” (Bauhaus) 1982/1980 respectively.
It takes a unique band to cover another truly original band. Nevermore increases the metal quotient significantly while making it sound like Nevermore. Warrel Dane has an obvious command of the source material, and it comes across in this powerful delivery of two fairly eerie songs.
Sepultura “The Hunt” (New Model Army) (1986)
Sepultura’s covers have often been hit or miss, but this one crushes, with the band choosing to include it on their transformative album-and my personal favorite from the band- CHAOS A.D. Again, it is the intensity and the passionate delivery of a song made more molten by Max’s vocals but with deep root in the original melodies.
Overkill “Frankenstein” (Edgar Winter Group) 1973
The guitar sound is huge, the riff pure metal once Overkill gets a hold of it and shakes it to death in its steely teeth. Everything is faster, and the guitar fills sound better because of it. Winter himself was a bluesy guy, but Overkill put their stamp on this one to help overcome that.
1. Warrel Dane – Lucretia (My Refletion) (Sisters of Mercy)
Over the years Warrel Dane has proved that he’s got a knack for doing creative covers of non-metal songs, on his own, with Nevermore, and with Sanctuary. Personally, his brooding solo album hold his highlight, with this wicked cover of the Sister of Mercy. The song is a goth classic and Dane’s take injects it with a metallic energy that takes it over the top.
2. W.A.S.P. – The Real Me (The Who)
Blackie Lawless has used W.A.S.P. as a vehicle to cover a lot of classic rock songs and nearly all of them have been fantastic. That said, he struck gold with “The Real Me”, a Who song that isn’t one of their overplayed classic rock radio tunes. The song fits in so seamlessly with the W.A.S.P. sound, and on THE HEADLESS CHILDREN in particular, that it’s become a staple in the band’s live set for over 20 years.
3. Nightwish – Over the Hills and Far Away (Gary Moore)
Nightwish’s version of Gary Moore’s song is essentially the perfect way to perform a cover: keep the song recognizable and true to its original sound, but add your own elements (Tarja’s vocals and symphonic bombast) to create something new.
4. Nevermore – The Sound of Silence (Simon & Garfunkel)
I’ve always loved Nevermore’s blistering version Simon & Garfunkel’s immortal folk rock song. Needless to say, by turning it into a full-on thrash assault and having Dane wail away over top of it, the guys easily make the track their own.
5. W.A.S.P. – I Don’t Need No Doctor (Humble Pie / Ray Charles)
Yet another perfect cover by Blackie & co., “I Don’t Need No Doctor” is most known as a Humble Pie song, but even then it’s a cover of a Ray Charles classic. Here again, W.A.S.P. makes the song their own, fitting in seamlessly in the band’s catalogue. As an aside, I could have easily done a Top 5 list purely of W.A.S.P. covers by including their excellent versions of “Easy Livin'”, “Mississippi Queen”, and “Paint It Black”.
Warrel Dane – Patterns (Simon & Garfunkel)
Sanctuary – White Rabbit (Jefferson Airplane)
Graveworm – I Need A Hero (Bonnie Tyler)
Sinergy – Hanging on the Telephone (Blondie)
1. Iron Maiden – Women In Uniform (Skyhooks)
Iron Maiden is the best band ever so what can go wrong here. Great song and even though I don’t like Paul Di’Anno I do think he does a good job here.
2. Backyard Babies – Jack The Ripper (Nationalteatern)
Here is Backyard Babies doing a nice cover of the the Swedish national 70- prog rock band Nationalteatern. Nice to hear Nicke Borg sing in Swedish.
3. In Flames – Everything Counts (Depeche Mode)
One of the biggest metal band from Sweden kills with this cover. Once again I’m proud to be Swedish.
4. Edguy – I’ll Cry for You (Europe)
German power metal band do a somewhat heavier version of this song.
5. Anthrax- Antisocial (Trust)
One of my childhoed heroes does an amazing cover, the cover is better than the original.
Avantasia – Lay All Your Love on Me (ABBA)
One more Swedish cover here from the biggest pop band out from Sweden in Abba. Tobias Sammet does a really great version of the song.
1. Pathfinder – Moonlight Shadow (Mike Oldfield)
2. Napalm Death – Nazi Punks Fuck Off (Dead Kennedys)
3. Elvenking – Heaven is a Place on Earth (Belinda Carlisle)
4. Marilyn Manson – Sweet Dreams (Eurythmics)
5. Slayer – Born to be Wild (Steppenwolf)
Carpathian Forest – A Forest (The Cure)
Cradle of Filth – Stay (Shakespeare’s Sister)
Sodom – The Kids Wanna Rock (Bryan Adams)