Don’t Run For Cover!
A Very Brief And Incomplete History Of Hard Rock/Metal Covers albums
As we hit the 50th anniversary of Heavy Metal this year (2020), as Managing Editor of Metal-Rules.com, one of my goals is to try to add more editorial content and technical information so people can use MR not only as a source of entertainment but reliable information as well. In our 30,000+ pages of content, we have written almost 14,000 CD reviews, 500+ book reviews, 400+ DVD reviews. Over 25 years we have conducted over 2000 interviews, and our international staff have reviewed over 1700 concerts and festivals world-wide.
We are also celebrating our 25th year as a website so to add even more value for our readers I would like to add a series of articles about various facets of Heavy Metal. Every year, I am increasingly happy to discover more and more authors, books, on-line publications, scholars and academic studies scouring our massive archives, citing and sharing our work.
Therefore, my modest goal is to continue to make Metal-Rules a resource and repository on a variety of (hopefully!) interesting topics and not just a shallow dumping ground of regurgitated press-releases, click-bait, pop-up ads, political posturing, countless lists and rankings of albums, and endless industry gossip. There are plenty of good sites that already do that well and they are all enjoyable in their own way.
Each feature in this series is named after a Metal band, album, song title or lyric. Feel free to go back and read the other articles in this series.
Mar 2020- Read All About It (Canadian Metal magazines)
April 2020- Gathered In Their Masses (American Supergoups)
May 2020- A Tribute to The Past (Tribute albums)
June 2020- Reborn In Blasphemy (Re-recorded albums)
July 2020-Still The Orchestra Plays (Metal bands and orchestras)
August 2020-Japandamonium (Live in Japan albums)
September 2020- Grandfather! Tell Me Story! (Concept albums)
October 2020-Gathered In Their Masses Part 2 (European Supergroups)
If you have any suggestions, comments or ideas for future articles, please let me know. You can reach me at email@example.com. Thank you.
If you want to skip the long article, you can just scroll down and look at the list of bands!
This topic is pretty self explanatory so my introduction will be short for this fun entry into the series.
What is a covers album?
Simply put, a band will record songs previously recorded and released by another band. Easy.
History of Covers albums.
For much of the early days of recorded music singers would sing a song that someone else wrote. Some people had vocal talent but were not good song writers and some song writers couldn’t carry a tune, so they sold the song they wrote to the talent to perform. Over time these roles meshed and the (now mostly outdated) term singer-song-writer evolved and took on new meaning.
Cover tunes are nothing new, they have been a part of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal from Day One. Black Sabbath’s, 1907, self titled, debut album had two cover tunes. In the 70’s it was a bit more common for Hard Rock artists have two or even three songs by other bands on their album. Deep Purple’s debut had four cover tunes! By the time the 1980’s came around, bands were writing and performing more original material and cover tunes became slightly less common. Often covers were related to novelty status; a joke, a B-side, or just something fun to ‘lighten the mood’ on what could be an intense album. 80’s thrash bands sort of pioneered the idea of doing comedy/pop (non-Metal) cover tunes on their albums, prime examples being Destruction doing ‘My Sharona’, (The Knack), Tankard doing ‘Centrefold’ (J. Geils Band) and Xentrix tackling Ray Parker Jr’.s smash hit, ‘Ghostbusters’. These scattered versions did exist across Metal albums for a couple of decades but it wasn’t until years later that the industry embraced the idea of an entire album of cover tunes. The first full-length Hard Rock / Heavy Metal covers album did not appear until 1992 but it wasn’t until the mid 1990’s that a handful of bands embraced the idea with almost a dozen covers releases coming out in 1996 alone. For some unexplained reason 2010 was a big year as well with about ten such releases coming out.
From a North American perspective, very often cover songs were found on Japanese albums. Traditionally, the Japanese music markets are heavily protectionist. Physical CD’s in Japan are still quite expensive. To combat the problem of local (Japanese) fans buying the cheaper, imported album of a North American band, the Japanese must industry started to insist that bands add one, two or even three additional songs for the Japanese pressing. This was the incentive for the Japanese fans to buy the more expensive domestic product. Very often a band would need more material for the Japanese version and would have to quickly bust out an extra song or three; a joke song, add a demo track, a live track, on rare occasions a full, new unreleased song but more often than not, a cover tune. Bands would hesitate to give away a full, new, original song that they could use on the studio album. Bands often mess around in rehearsal, warming up and jamming and playing songs from their favourite bands and bands will have a few of these in their hip pocket for such an occasion. These cover tunes would end up on albums as an afterthought or for the aforementioned business reasons.
From a business perspective, this was actually quite clever because now domestic fans want to buy the domestic Japanese version, which has more value AND now international fans now want the Japanese version with the extra material. North America and Europe started to follow suit and now a bands album, may have up to three or four different pressings in different territories with different track listings. Only the truest of the true, or the ones with deep wallets can afford to buy all those versions. While technically a sound business model, overtime it has become quite annoying for some fans to have multiple territorial pressings of every album.
I have no proof of this but my theory is that these sort of mildly predatory/protectionist practice of having multiple, ‘region-specific’ bonus tracks helped contribute to a growing sentiment among music fans where in, rejection of this model, (resulting in them having to buy four copies of essentially the same thing to get one or two new tracks) turned to the internet to merely download the extra tracks, (or even the entire album) thereby depriving the record label of even more revenue.
Today covers albums are all over the place and the trend does not seem to be slowing down. I have noticed on occasion a bit of a back-lash and some newer bands claiming with pride that they have NO novelty cover tunes or joke songs, just 100% Metal original material.
Why record/release an albums of covers?
Why not? They are fun, easy to do, and give artists a chance to pay homage to the artists that entertained or inspired them. Bands that have enjoyed a certain degree of longevity will find that over time they have amassed a large number of cover tunes and accordingly the label may compile all those tracks into one place for the consumer. This practice might also fulfill any existing album contracts as well.
Types of covers.
In relation of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal there are three categories of covers.
1. Metal on Metal: A Heavy Metal band covers another Metal song.
2. Metal on Not-Metal: This is Metal bands doing non-Metal covers. These are becoming increasingly popular. Very often these have some sort of comedic value.
3. Not-Metal on Metal: These are the least common and popular types. I do not address these in this essay however I will note with the rise of Youtube and so on we are seeing more and more Not-Metal artists tackle Metal songs on-line, but very few on actual physical albums. There are any number of bands doing bluegrass covers, or classical covers or industrial covers but these fall more into the tribute / novelty category and are not explored in detail here. However, I did mention a few as an honourable mention in Appendix A
How many covers albums are there?
Again, like most of the specialty albums (Symphonic, re-recordings, tributes etc) that I have documenting in this series of essays over the year, covers albums represent a truly tiny portion of the total record Metal output. By far less than 1%. There still might be a couple hundred in existence today and continuing to grow. They are technically rare but we all came name a bunch of them so it doesn’t ‘seem’ rare or unique to do one anymore.
For our purposes I am only discussing individual bands (not record labels) who create an EP or full album of cover tunes. To qualify at least 50% (usually much more) of the release must be cover tunes. I’ve listed them chronologically and then alphabetically by band. If you wish to learn more about other types of covers albums please feel to look at the appendices and/or read my essay about Tribute Albums first published here in early May 2020. Please see Appendix B for a few rare examples.
Secondly, I made the painful decision to NOT list the track listings of each of these. It would be time consuming to find the correct track list and format it and credit the original band as well, we are talking researching over 1000 individual songs and frankly I don’t have it in me! Maybe in 2021 I’ll upgrade this essay and ‘re-issue’ it with all track lists intact. I make a few notes of covers along the way but if you are super curious, you’ll have to look it up.
As the music industry evolves so does the technology and the model for serving revenue from producing music. With the rise of YouTube many artists generate a revenue stream not from selling actual albums, but from developing an audience and related spin-off money from advertising. There are many artists who do Heavy Metal covers albums but they only exist on-line, digitally. I did not cover these for two reasons. One there are many, (dozens) of artists who only exist on the internet. Secondly, because of the low production cost and ease and necessity of creating content (i.e., covers albums) there are literally hundreds of these albums, way too many to discuss. Please see Appendix D for just one such example.
Lastly, I know the title of this essay is a bit lame but it had to have the word ‘cover’ so my mind went to ‘Don’t Run For Cover’ by Helloween. Lots of bands have already used all the best names; ‘Take Cover’, ‘Under Cover’, Under The Covers’ or their covers albums, so that is what I settled on. I really like cover tunes and cover albums, I have a big chunk of these in my personal library, so please don’t interpret the tile of ‘Don’t run for Cover’ to suggest I do not like them! Enjoy!
Dec 10, 2020 Added Anubis Gate, Ellefson.
Dec 15, 2020 Added Yngwie J. Mamlsteen.
OZZY-Speak Of The Devil (Honourable Mention)
Man, does this one stick out like a sore thumb. His first live solo album is all Black Sabbath songs….an all cover tunes album? Does this really count as a cover tunes album? I don’t think so, that was not the intention, to pay homage to his old band, it was more of a contractual obligation thing while Don and Sharon Arden were fighting over Ozzy and his new career. Besides Ozzy had a hand in the creation of these tunes. Can you cover yourself? I don’t think it works that way. Anyway, it is ugly but it gets an honourable mention status.
Metallica-The $5.98 EP-Garage Days Re-Revisited.
I was actually surprised to discover that maybe Metallica was the first band to formally release a product, in this case an EP, of entirely cover tunes. I dug around and they do seem to be the first, which in hindsight is not that shocking. They are innovative and had big-label money to gamble on a release like this, hence maybe just a teaser EP at the $5.98 price-point. The title is interesting too. Many people forget that it is called ‘Re-Revisted. In 1984, the band released the ‘Creeping Death’ single and the B-side carried the title ‘Garage Days Revisited’ which consisted of two cover tunes, ‘Blitzkrieg’ and the infamous, ‘Am I Evil?’. So in a sense this is the band second foray into cover tunes and another Metallica first.
If you know of a band that formally released a product of all cover tunes BEFORE this one, let me know. Until then, Metallica holds the title of being first. The EP includes lots of NWOBHM stuff. A sequel followed many years later.
AIN’T DEAD YET -MCMXCIII
A bit of an obscurity this one, the Swiss all-star project, (basically a Krokus spin-off) did a concert of all cover tunes and committed it to vinyl. They tackled ZZ Top, Ted Nugent, Montrose, Judas Priest and more.
It is not surprising that some of the bigger bands on bigger labels could do these neat little side-releases, because they had a budget. L.A. .Guns embraced the covers album mentality early on and have released four or five over their career to date.
SKID ROW-B-Sides Ourselves
Another major label band on top of the world in ’92 with budget to match, so these projects get the go-ahead. Their live cover version of ‘Breaking The Law’ with Halford on guest vocals is white hot.
GUNS N’ ROSES-The Spaghetti Incident
This album of punk covers came out of left-field but still stands as one of the most famous, best selling, covers albums of all time. It eventually went platinum in the US. Also notable as the first full-length covers release in the Hard Rock/Metal world?
(1993, Aaarrg Records)
This is the first band to do an all-classical music covers album. Of course there are only a handful of Metal bands to ever do a classical music covers album, but they were the first. This band was ahead of the curve in many respects also featuring in my European super-group essay and Tribute album essay, the band fitting neatly into many categories.
I have a soft spot for Rage so this release, which was not much more than a short EP or (Maxi-single) for the Japanese market, gets an honourable mention. It is notable however because over time the band would go onto record dozens of cover tunes and this was their early foray in that field. It has three unconventional picks for covers too; The Troggs, The Mission and The Police, not what you might expect for a German Power/Thrash band.
(1994, Neue Zeiten)
Another weird one, the German thrash band Tankard makes a fun, all-covers, tune side project doing German Schalger music. A Tankwart is a gas station attendant, hence the album art, and Aufgentankt means refuelled. They have only ever done a few albums but apparently do a gig on occasion. Fellow German, Tom Angelripper would run with the same idea two years later with his Onkel Tom project. The Finnish band, Raskasta Iskelmaa would also follow in their footsteps 25 years later.
After losing their major label deal, these young rockers tried to reinvent themselves on a smaller label but mostly unsuccessfully. On the plus side some pretty innovative picks, Nine Inch Nails, Beastie Boys and two by Elvis Costello! They were also the first to snag this cool, somewhat predictable (but fitting) album title. This would be the last thing they did until reuniting in 2012.
ONKEL TOM ANGELRIPPER-EIN SCHONER TAG…
Not to be outdone by countrymen, Tankard, Tom Angelripper of Sodom makes his own comedy side project of beer hall/schlager/drinking songs. In English the title means, ‘A Beautiful Day’.
I have no idea why but 1996 was the year bands and the industry started to really embrace creating covers releases. As we have seen there were only a dozen or so between 1987 and 1995 but suddenly it took off with almost a dozen releases hitting the market in one year. Bands from America, Sweden, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Holland, Germany and even Spain got in on the act. We saw out first Black Metal bands do cover albums. The (un)holy trinity of Black Metal cover EP’s all came out in 1996 with Bewitched, Marduk, and Necrophobia all putting out mini tributes to the original masters of Slayer, Venom, Bathory and so on. We saw our second punk covers album (Slayer) and the rise of the Metal Christmas industry with the debut Trans-Siberian Orchestra album. Prior to 1996 we had seen punk covers, schlager covers and other quirky bits and pieces but this was the year we saw the first few truly serious, ‘Metal on Metal’, full-length, covers albums, from Yngwie and Vader. Ever since 1996 every year five or six covers albums/EP’s have hit the market without slowing down.
ARJEN LUCASSON -Strange Hobby
Arjen of Vengeance and Ayreon fame puts out an 18 song collection of his favourite 60’s and 70’s pop tunes from band like The Beach Boys, The Monkees and The Beatles.
BEWITCHED-Encyclopedia Of Evil
Evil on evil.
NECROPHOBIC-Spawned By Evil
(1996, Black Mark)
Closing the evil circle
A spanish collection of covers of early Spanish Metal bands like Baron Rojo and Obus.
A mildly controversial album upon release from the thrash titans didn’t do much to stop the bleeding but over time has become one of the best-selling and most respected covers albums in Metal. Oh yes, It’s all punk tunes which annoyed the thrash purists, myself included.
TANKWART-Himbeergeist Zum Frühstück
(1996, Century Media)
A second kick at the can for the Tankard comedy side-project. The title roughly translates as ‘Raspberry Spirits for Breakfast’.
What more can be said about this iconic, Savatage side-project that spawned several multiplatinum albums, two touring productions, and half a dozen imitators? Savatage does an album of Christmas cover tunes and figures out they can make way more money and off they go into music history. This debut becomes one of the best-selling Christmas albums of all time.
VADER – Future Of The Past
One of the very first truly ‘Metal on Metal’ full-length covers albums. Vader rips through Death Metal versions of (mostly) thrash stuff like Slayer, Sodom Possessed and Kreator. They would revist the concept 20 years later with a Part II.
YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN-Inspiration
(1996, Music For Nations)
Yngwie shows his influences with a lot of Rainbow, Deep Purple (4 songs!) and Jimi Hendrix. As a Canadian it was nice to see Rush get a nod as well. One of the earliest full-length’ came out just before Vader’s, and Saratoga’s making it a bit of a milestone.
Likely the very first album of a Metal band doing 80’s pop cover tunes. These days it is very trendy for Metal bands to cover 80’s pop bands, but back then it was just innovative. This one has very industrial and gothic overtones unlike the traditional Death Metal of their regular studio output. It was well-received and spawned a sequel a decade later.
(1997, Music for Nations)
The esteemed Swedish Death Metal band had been going side-ways for several years and this covers EP with a really eclectic song selection didn’t help the bands fortunes.
JOE LYNN TURNER-Under Cover
Ex-Rainbow, Yngwie man for his third solo album does some cover tunes consisting of largely conventional rock songs. Nicely executed.
JOE LYNN TURNER-Under Cover 2
More of the same a year later.
SHADOWS OF STEEL-Heroes
(1998, Underground Symphony)
This Italian Power Metal band, in conjunction with their label, put out this unconventional release, a two disc set. Disc 1 is a four-song EP and Disc 2 being six cover tunes of US Power Metal bands (the heroes presumably) like Agent Steel and Crimson Glory. A grand total of 40 minutes could have easily fit on one disc.
Helloween has always had a few unorthodox releases in between their studio albums and this time they embrace their inner hippie with a batch of 60’s and 70’s tunes.
NAPALM DEATH-Leaders Not Followers
Highly regarded and highly politicized EP from the masters.
1999 was a busy year for Overkill with two full albums getting released. A clever title and fun choices make this one a winner.
DARK FUNERAL-Teach Children To Worship Satan
(2000, No Fashion)
This magnificently titled EP with four cover tunes is simply superb.
The cover title, cover art and brilliant song selection make this one a benchmark. The first cover tunes album of a grindcore band doing grind covers of bands like Regurgitate, Defecation and Carcass and… UFO for some reason.
Not as well known but heavy as hell with 11 tracks from death, black and thrash masters…and AC/DC!
SIX FEET UNDER-Graveyard Classics
(2000, Metal Blade)
The first of four SFU covers albums to date, each getting progressively less well-received. For this first one, it was still enough of a novelty, the track-list was solid enough and SFU still had a decent reputation, so it was pretty good effort.
STEEL PROPHET -Genesis
(2000, Nuclear Blast)
This one is a reissue of some of the bands early demo tracks and then seven cover tunes tacked on the end. The US Power Metal bands pays tribute to Priest, Maiden and other usual suspects.
DECEASED-Behind The Mourner’s Veil
It is no secret that King Fowley is one of the most Metal dudes in the history of everything. This low key EP started his long-term love affair with cover tunes, now five or six albums deep. This seven song EP one had four cover tunes by some thrashin’ 80’s favourites like Anthrax and Tankard.
POWERGOD-That’s Metal-Lesson I: Bleed For The Gods
A lesser known but enjoyable German Power Metal band put out this 16 tracker of pure 80’s Metal heaven with cuts from Manowar, Warlock, Yngwie and the song ‘Stars from the Hear n’ Aid charity project! Followed by a sequel four years later. In my opinion one of the most ‘Metal’ covers albums ever.
SEBASTIAN BACH-Bach 2 Basics
After Skid Row kind of went south, Sebastian was spinning his wheels for a bit and this was a bit of an ill-fated attempt to kick start his now very resectable solo career. This rare and indie release collected a bunch of tribute stuff he had done in a low-budgets presentation. It’s Rush, Kiss, Zeppelin, AC/DC and all the stuff he grew up listening to.
WARRANT-Under The Influence
(2001, Down Boys)
Crawling out of the wreckage of the glam years battered, bruised but still alive, the band released this surprisingly good collection of 70’s classic Rock tunes on their own little label. Tunes by Queen, Cheap Trick, AC/DC and Aerosmith the order of the day. This little spark got them some traction (I love mixed metaphors) and they churned out a few more respectable Hard Rock albums.
(2002, Crook’d Records)
Decreased now embrace covers with a full album’s worth. A 20 track, horse pill of Metal on Metal by the indomitable King Fowley. Ozzy, Maiden, Saxon Krokus and more.
ENTOMBED-Sons Of Satan Praise The Lord
(2002, Music for Nations)
Expanding on the WRECKAGE EP of a few years before, Entombed take it over the top with what is the first double covers album. Two discs, 90 minutes, and 27 covers tunes including a wide range of rock, punk and Metal covers. This was collection of every cover they had done to date and includes the Wreckage EP.
Following up their Tribute to Led Zeppelin (See my tribute albums essay for more details) Great White dive back in the pool with their first true covers album. The licensing and industry side of this title is uglier than a rotting chum bucket. At least five versions exist, all laid out here for your collecting pleasure. If you were a true fan you would own them all…
(Collectors Dream, 2012)
ICED EARTH-Tribute To The Gods
(2002, Century Media)
This is one is way up there in terms of Metal purity. Iced Earth doing Maiden and Priest? Doesn’t get more Metal than that.
(2002, Fabrica Nacional De Musica)
Sepultura had always churned out a decent number of covers and collected half a dozen of them on the BLOOD ROOTED collection back in 1997 but this was their first full covers collection. This was eight punchy tracks a wide mix of pop and rock and Metal with a rebellious lyrical approach.
ACHERON-Tribute to The Devil’s music
(2003, Black Lotus)
Heavy as hell.
AEROSMITH-Honkin’ On Bobo
Aerosmith maybe starts to show their age with a full-length album consisting of 50’s and 60’s blues covers. Regardless it was fun, well-executed and fairly well-received by the faithful.
This wonderfully titled set comes courtesy of one of, if not, Spain’s biggest Metal band. They bust over an hour of out their rock favourites from the 60’s and 70’s including Bob Dylan, Grand Funk, Hendrix, Nugent and Bad Company. Look carefully to the right for the slightly saucy album cover art.
PRO-PAIN-Run for Cover
Lots of great cross-over, punk, hardcore and thrash on this 14 tracks covers album.
CONCERTO MOON-After The Double Cross
Kind of an honourable mention, Japan’s Concerto Moon’s 7th album came with a bonus CD of cover tunes of Rainbow, Deep Purple and the like.
DECEASED-Rotten to The Core
(2004, Malt Soda)
An ugly twin of ZOMBIE HYMNS a couple of years prior, this time Fowley pays homage to punk, hardcore and cross-over on this cleverly titled, 16 tracker.
ELVIRA MADIGAN-Angelis Deamonae – Wiccan Aftermath
(2004, Black Lodge)
One of the more unique covers albums, this short-lived, Gothic black Metal band from Sweden did his one, consisting mostly European and Japanese pop covers and video games too.
This one barely makes the cut with only four cover tunes and some demo tracks. It was low budget and not great in terms of presentation or production but it is notable that the band was back after a dozen years.
KEVIN DUBROW-In For The Kill
Despite his ongoing drug problems and QR basically being dead in the water in 2004, DuBrow pulls out a red-hot collection of covers of 70’s rock tunes. Surprisingly heavy and his voice truly was bullet-proof.
L.A. Guns-Rips The Covers Off
The fabulous L.A. Guns celebrate the 70’s with this rock solid collection of hits by Aerosmith, Queen and more.
SIX FEET UNDER-Graveyard Classics
(2004, Metal Blade)
Six Feet Under got a grudging pass on their first covers album a few years prior but this complete recording of the classic AC/DC album BACK IN BLACK didn’t really appeal to anyone. It is hard enough to re-record an entire album to begin with, let alone poorly duplicate arguably one of the most successful and popular Hard Rock albums of all time. However, this is a bit of a benchmark, even if for all the wrong reasons. If you actually listen carefully, it’s not horrible? I mean, it’s hard to ruin AC/DC to begin with and the tunes are faithful representations AND no one accused Brian Johnson or Chris Barnes of being world-class singers…but…no. It didn’t fly.
TRANSMETAL-Temple De Acero
Mexico’s biggest Metal band for their 16th album tackled some of their favourites ranging from AC/DC to Uriah Heep.
DR. SIN-Listen To The Doctors
(2005, Paradox Music)
This long running Brazilian Power Metal band came up with a clever concept; doing an album of covers tunes where all the songs have the word ‘doctor’ in the title. Hence we get ‘Doctor Doctor’ by UFO, ‘Somebody Get Me A Doctor’ by Van Halen, ‘Dr. Feelgood’ by Motley Crue and nine more.
EXHUMED-Garbage Daze Re-Regurgitated
(2005, Parasitic Twin)
With a tip of the hat to Metallica, indestructible death Metal titans do a wild and varied covers album with tracks ranging from The Cure and Led Zeppelin to Pentagram and Sadus.
MICHAEL ANGELO-Hands Without Shadows
The shredder extraordinaire has released any number of solo albums on his own Mace Music label. This is his first crack at a covers album with cuts by Deep Purple and Aerosmith and tributes to Led Zeppelin and Randy Rhoades.
It was perhaps inevitable. Ozzy does the 60’s and 70’s. Not terrible but not great.
POWERGOD-That’s Metal-Lesson II: Long Live The Loud
Part II with another 15 cuts. Very Metal.
Def Leppard explores the 70’s. Not altogether unpleasant and seems sincere. As with most of Def Leppard’s stuff, this album put up some big numbers and chart positions making it one of the more popular covers albums.
PRIMAL FEAR-Metal Is Forever
(2006, Nuclear Blast)
To finish off their deal with Nuclear Blast, Primal Fear put out a double disc Best of. Disc 2 (called ‘Metal Classics) consisted of nine rock solid cover tunes of the usual suspects, Rainbow, Purple, Priest, and so on.
RED WINE-The End
(2006, Dye Records)
Red Wine is a lesser known Spanish band but still well regarded in Power Metal circles. Their with and final album (to date) was a collection of tunes of their influences and we start to see a shift into more and more Power/Speed metal with Helloween, Angra, Rage, and Blind Guardian getting covered.
AXEL RUDI PELL-Diamonds Unlocked
Nice mix of Hard Rock and pop (U2, Phil Collins) but the execution was a little restrained.
(2007, Art Music)
BariLari is the side project of the vocalist, Adrian Barilari, of Rata Blanca, one of, if not Argentina’s biggest Metal band. A wild mix of Frank Sinatra, Sting, U2 , Bon Jovi, Queen and Mr. Big! The title translates to ‘Golden Songs’.
DECEASED-Inject The Ugliness
A neat little collectible for fans, this vinyl-only four song EP has some nice choices, including Agent Steel and Running Wild.
DI’ANNO-Iron Maiden Days & Evil Nights
This one seems a bit low budget to me but in addition to rehashing his ancient history with Maiden (five covers) we get another seven covers from 70’s rock greats such as Zeppelin, UFO and Nazareth. Cleopatra collected up all those tribute albums that Di’Anno appeared on over the years and stuck them on here. Kind of nice to have them all in one place I suppose for the die-hards.
GALNERYUS-Voices From The Past
Nice little EP of cover tunes from this raging Japanese Power Metal act. They stretch out a bit and cover stuff you might not expect like Asia and Vandenberg. This was the first of three covers EP’s to date.
At this point in their career the band was treading water and this didn’t help much other than to help keep them afloat. The song selection was actually really decent, non-common choices, but the execution was lacklustre.
TESLA-Real To Reel 1 & 2
This is a really well-done and well executed, double covers album. The band went and recorded their old favourites on analog equipment. Initially you could buy the two-disc set but one CD was ‘missing’ and you had to attend a Tesla concert and get the second CD to put into the packaging with was designed to look like an old analog tape reel box…hence the clever title. They were released later with both discs intact packed with 25 tracks of hard rocking tunes from the 60’s and 70’s. No machines.
ATROCITY-Werk 80 II
Based on the surprising success of WERK 80, the band revisited the idea a decade later. More industrial-metalized 80’s pop madness.
ERIC MARTIN-Mr. Vocalist
It is hard to overstate the popularity of Mr. Big in Japan. If you are curious go look at Wikipedia. Based on his fame with Mr. Big, Eric Martin was contracted by a major label to do a series of covers albums, given the very Japanese title of Mr. Vocalist. The idea was that Martin would doing versions of famous Japanese pop songs originally sung by female artists. It was, of course, a smash hit and was followed by four sequels.
GALNERYUS-Voices From The Past II
Part II in the series and more innovative picks including Leatherwolf and Silver Mountain.
(2008, Nuclear Blast)
Metal on Metal to the max. Hammerfall collects all their covers and add a few more for good measure. Eighteen slabs of 80’s Metal madness with Yngwie, Helloween, Pretty Maids, Warlord, Loudness and Chastain. For what it is worth this is one of my favourite covers albums of all time.
CHILDREN OF BODOM-Skeletons In The Closet
Alexi and the boys collect their all their cover tunes into one big 17 track (plus one hidden) compilation. This one is loose and lethal as the band has fun with a nice mix of Metal and non-Metal including the infamous Britney Spears cover.
DREAM THEATER-Official Bootleg:Uncovered 2003-2005
(2009, Ytse Jam)
DT have countless semi-pro, semi-official, bootleg albums under their own Ytse Jam label. They have done a number of live albums where they play an album in it’s entirety, but this is their first true covers collection. 10 tracks, mostly 70’s stuff, Queen, Yes, Kansas and the like.
ERIC MARTIN-Mr. Vocalist 2
See Part I (above) for the full explanation. This time there was more of an emphasis on ballads.
ERIC MARTIN-Mr. Vocalist Christmas
For their 10th Anniversary the band put out a two CD collection. Known for their covers tunes, at least two per studio album, Disc 2 collects them all into one tidy package of 20 or so covers.
BURDEN OF GRIEF -Follow The Flames
Lesser known band, but the two CD version of this album came with a bonus CD of eight cover tunes; Maiden, Metallica and the like.
GALNERYUS-Voices From The Past II
Part III in the series. Super cool for my tastes with covers of Malmsteen, Queensryche and Dokken.
Lesser known Brazilian Power Metal type act doing lots of contemporary pop covers of folks like Beyonce and Lady Gaga.
L.A. GUNS-Covered In Guns
Another one from the guns.
GEORGE LYNCH-Orchestral Mayhem
George covers classical music!
ERIC MARTIN-Mr. Vocalist 3
The saga continues…
SIX FEET UNDER-Graveyard Classics III
(2010, Metal Blade)
The band redeemed themselves a little bit (after the AC/DC covers album) with quite a decent track selection but by now tolerance of covers albums by the band was pretty low. Their version of the Prong cut, ‘Snap Your Fingers’ is a highlight.
BLACK LABEL SOCIETY-The Song Remains Not The Same
Clever title, pedestrian versions but decent picks.
BULLET BOYS-Rocked & Ripped
The Bullet Boys tackle the 80’s, lots of rock and pop.
DYING FETUS-History Repeats
Brutal on brutal, death on death. Dying Fetus covering the Cannibal Corpse track ‘Born In A Casket’ has some beautifully ugly symmetry.
THE NEOLOGIST-In Flames We Trust (Vol I)
These guys do wear their influences on their sleeve, with not one but two entire In Flames covers albums. A first for sure and these guys do like covers albums with four to date.
REINXEED-Swedish Hitz Goes Metal (Vol I)
The awkward title says it all. ABBA, Ace Of Base and Roxxette done speed metal style! The first of two!
A bit of an honourable mention. Scores did a half re-recorded album and half covers; all bands from the 60’s that they like.
For a while, after the reunion, Stryper were kinda treading water with a remake album, a live album and a covers album all in a row. On this one they paid tribute to their 70’s and early 80’s heroes.
These long-running and under-appreciated Melodic Metallers from Germany did their own covers album, with lots of 70’s and 80’s pop and rock choices and a slight disco theme as well.
DEE SNIDER-Dee Does Broadway
(2012, Razor & Tie )
Never afraid to try something new, Dee busts out a covers album of Broadway show tunes. The mind boggles. In a good way. In hindsight it makes sense…growing up in NYC in the 60’s, he probably grew up listening to this stuff.
The Spanish gore grinders are back this time with an album of Spanish punk covers. Pretty obscure stuff.
ERIC MARTIN-Mr. Rock Vocalist
The last one in the series to date.
THE NEOLOGIST-Working The Soil
An EP of tunes originally done by Soilwork.
THERION-Les Fleurs De Mal
(2012, End Of The Light)
Most people consider this a low point in the bands career, a covers albums of French pop songs from the 1960’s. You can’t say Christopher Johnsson follows the rules!
(2013, Elm City)
All-star project having fun and busting out an MCD of biker-rock versions of some old 70’s Hard rock favourites. They did it again two years later.
IGNITOR-Mix Tape ’85
One of the cooler covers albums of all time. Accept, Venom, Merciful Fate, Exciter and more getting the treatment.
THE NEOLOGIST-The Greatest Heavy Metal Cover Album in the Galactic History of the Planetary Solar System
Speaking coolest cover albums of all, this is apparently one of them! Despite the goofy title, this EP is actually pretty innovative and covers some bands that don’t usually get covered like Sybreed, Disarmonia Mundi and Deadlock.
Originally issued in 2001 as a single disc, this reissue included a 12 track bonus disc called ‘A Tribute to The Metal Gods’ with covers of Helloween, Manowar, Slayer and…the Backstreet Boys!
REINXEED-Swedish Hitz Goes Metal (Vol II)
Back to the well but super fast and super fun.
ENUFF Z’ NUFF-Covered In Gold
Nice eclectic mix of covers from David Lee Roth solo stuff to Prince.
ACID WITCH-Midnight Movies
(2015, Hell’s Headbangers)
This is a really neat idea. Four songs from four 80’s horror movie sound tracks, including Trick Or Treat and Black Roses, done doom style. Very rad.
ADRENALINE MOB-Dearly Departed
(2015, Century Media)
Half acoustic, half covers, sort of worth mentioning.
POWERWOLF-Blessed & Possessed
The deluxe version of this album came with a bonus disc called ‘Metallum Nostrum’. A favourite of mine for the above average section including Running Wild, Savatage and Chroming Rose. It was later reissued as a stand-alone CD in 2019 with alternate artwork.
PRONG-Songs From The Black hole
Prong tackles punk.
This is an indie release the band did on their own . Limited to 500 copies in a wallet slipcase so I’m glad I bought one when it came out, as it now sells for over $100.00 on Discogs. White hot renditions of 70’s rock staples.
ACE FREHLEY -Origins Vol I
Even though this is ‘just’ cover tunes, it seems that Ace is the only ex-Kiss guy who is still making any sort of new material. This is 60’s and 70’s rock at it’s best. Followed by a sequel four years later.
HAMMERCULT-Legends Never Die
Straight up covers album with nice heavy versions of Accept, Running Wild, Slayer and more.
THE HOUNDS OF HASSELVANDER
(2016, Black Widow)
Drummer, Joe Hasselvander, despite being in Raven for decades, has a heart of doom. His side-project scratched that itch and he put out several doom-ish, side albums over the years, including this most recent covers album. 60’s stuff done doom.
OCTOBER 31 -Metal Massacre 31
(22016, Hell’s Headbangers)
Man this is cool, and only from the mind of King Fowley could someone come up with such a neat idea. October 31, his straight-up Metal project has covered various songs from the Metal Blade Record label, Metal Massacre compilation series..but only from the 80’s! Top-notch versions of Sacred Blade, Demon Flight, Tyrant and many more. Even the cover art pays tribute. The truest of the true.
SIX FEET UNDER-Graveyard Classics IV:The Number Of The Priest
(2016, Metal Blade)
This is not all that bad in execution (one-half classic Maiden covers, one-half classic Priest covers) but popular opinion is that this series has really overstayed it’s welcome. Writing this in 2020 I have no doubt Part V is coming.
VANLADE-Waywards Sons-Masters Of Time Vol I
Nice little EP by this younger band paying homage to some 70’s and 80’s classics including Kansas, hence the title.
CRITICAL SOLUTION -Barbara The Witch
Comes with a six track bonus CD of classic Metal covers.
Actually, I’m surprised it took Krokus this long to do a covers album. Since the band is basically done, this will be the last thing they ever did, until they start raiding the vaults for live albums and rarities etc to capitalize on the bands legacy. The band shows their 70’s roots with a generous 13 cover tunes. Why the hell do bands keep covering that Quinn The Eskimo song?
These prolific German, melodic Hard rockers do a monster, double-disc, 32 track set that runs over two hours. Interestingly, they do two or three song from each band being covered ranging from Toto to Queensryche, countrymen Grave Digger, to melodic stuff like House of Lords and Hardline. It is a wild mix and very well executed.
THE NEOLOGIST-In Flames We Trust (Vol II)
I’m not sure this was completely necessary.
VIRGIN STEELE-Ghost Harvest – Vintage I: Black Wine for Mourning
VIRGIN STEELE-Ghost Harvest – Vintage II: Red Wine for Warning
In a bit of a ‘binge-and-purge’ effort Virgin Steele released three albums worth of material simultaneously, effectively clearing the vaults. On top of that, the three albums, (plus two bonus albums) were released as a massive, five CD, 88 track, box-set called SEVEN DEVILS MOONSHINE. The bulk of the ‘Ghost Harvest’ albums were covers tunes, about two dozen were pulled from all over the place. Much of it was free-style, old blues stuff from Wille Dixon and John Lee Hooker and some more rocking stuff from UFO, Whitesnake as well as a handful of pop and grunge stuff. A crazy moonshine mix to be certain.
(2018, Metallic Core)
This well-regarded and long-running Japanese thrash band explore their 80’s roots with covers of Helloween, Malmsteen, Night Ranger, Silver Mountain and more.
ALICE COOPER-The Breadcrumbs EP
Alice explores his 60’s and 70’s Detroit Rock City roots with this neat little EP.
ARCH ENEMY-Covered In Blood
(2019, Century Media)
I’m surprised it took until 2019 for someone to use this title choice. Seems obvious to me. Arch Enemy provide us a massive 24 song collection of all their cover tunes from across the years. Different cover art in different territories.
RASKASTA ISKELMAA –Raskasta Iskelmaa
The third part of a Finnish super-group triumvirate along with Raskasta Juolua and Northern Kings, all basically the same all-star band. This time is The ‘Heavy Christmas’ summer time project. The word Iskelmaa is a translation for a Finnish type of schlager music, which in turn, is translated as ‘hit’. For North Americans who are not familiar, it is a type of bouncy/pop/folk music you might hear at an October Fest celebration or in a disco. So Raskasta Iskelmaa can be roughly translated as ‘Heavy Pop’ music. This is cover tunes of European pop tunes from the 60’s and 70’s. Quirky and fun but truth be told I was not familiar with any of these Euro-pop tunes.
YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN-Blue Lightning
The maestro returns with his second set of covers tunes. This time it is mostly 70’s blues and rock stuff with a modern interpretation.
ACE FREHLEY -Origins Vol II
Ace is back in the ring for Round Two.
ANUBIS GATE-Covered In Colours
A follow-up to 2017’s Covered In Black with a nod to the title. Crazy mix of pop, rock and Metal from this respected Danish Power Metal act.
Kind of a one-off from four dudes (Blitz, Portnoy, Menghi, Demmel) who wanted to bust out some cover tunes of 70’s bands that influenced them. Word on the mean streets is that they ‘might’ do a Part II of European stuff.
DECEASED-Rotten to the Core Part 2 (The Nightmare Continues)
(2020, Malt Soda)
More punk covers from the King!
Dave Ellefson, first true solo album is a two-disc set of covers. One has to wonder why two discs when the music would have fit on one disc at a generous 19 tracks, spanning 76 minutes. Classic 70’s and 80’s Hard rock and Metal and a the cover is a nice ‘cover’ of an album cover.
WARRIOR SOUL-Cocaine and Other Good Stuff
Nice selection of classic Hard Rock tunes from the 70’s.
APPENDIX A : Not Metal On Metal:
Here is a short list of these quirky novelty projects of non-metal bands exploring our great genre. (Listed alphabetically)
The four Finnish cellists who did the Metallica tribute did one more album of (mostly) Metal cover tunes including bands like Pantera and Sepultura.
BRIDES OF LUCIFER-Brides Of Lucifer
Operatic versions of classic Metal tunes by sing by a women’s choir ! Neat versions of Manowar, Priest and many more.
Heavy Metal tunes done Flamenco style! Weird but cool as they re-interpret classic 80’s tunes from Ozzy, King Diamond, Queensryche, Malmsteen and and more.
PAT BOONE-In A Metal Mood
I put this in the tribute album essay but this fits a little; better here as well.His 68th (!) studio album is in some ways his most infamous. It was his first album that charted since his heydays in the 50’s and was a jazz/swing reinterpretations of Hard Rock (not so much Metal) classics. For what it was worth I thought it was kinda fun.
STEVE ‘N’ SEAGULLS-Farm Machine
File this one is the ‘WTF” category. Finnish dudes, doing American bluegrass covers of Metal tunes! All the hits, AC/DC/ Zeppelin, Metallica, did, Maiden and more. They found a niche audience and have three albums to date. Surprisingly there are a handful of these bluegrass / Metal cover acts such as Iron Horse, but these guys are probably the most well known.
An acapella vocal group ding cool Power Metal covets of bands like Manowar, Blind Guardian and Nightwish. Surprisingly popular they have seven albums to date, most of them a mix of covers and originals.
APPENDIX B: Covered In Tribute.
These are really rare and weird anomalies in the Metal world. A band will do an entire album of covers in tribute to one band. I gathered most of them here for quick reference. These are very slightly different from tributes, meaning multiple bands doing cover tunes, but in essence this is one band paying tribute to another. Very rare. Please excuse the few crossover entries from the Tribute album essay. Listed chronologically.
BAD HABITZ-Dedicated To Thin Lizzy
This was actually the TNT guys in some down time, having fun a doing a Thin Lizzy tribute. Interestingly, they were on a major label!
GREAT WHITE-Great Zeppelin-A Tribute to Led Zeppelin
Deadline/Cleopatra enters the game with this semi-unique scenario of Great White doing an entire album of Zep covers. Not many bands would have the skill or balls to puLl this off but Great White does a decent job. Clever cover art too. This has been reissued countless times in many variations.
MEREDINE ATOMICHE-Tribute to Metallica
Lesser known Italian band doing Metallica covers.
KRISTY KRASH MAJORS-A Tribute To The Ramones: For Those About To Sniff Some Glue… We Salute You
The mailman of Pretty Boy Floyd shows his love for The Ramones.
SIGH- A Tribute To Venom
(2008, The End)
The avant-garde thrashers from Japan pay tribute to Venom.
This perhaps not a tribute album in the purest sense but it is an interesting little release. Roland Grapow (ex-Helloween) and his band Masterplan, do versions of Helloween songs from back when he was in the band. I’m not sure it is a heartfelt ‘tribute’ to his ex band because they still bicker in the media.
APPENDIX C: Covered In Jorn
Swedish powerhouse vocalist Jorne Lande (Ark, Masterplan, Millennium, The Snakes, etc) is perhaps synonymous with cover tunes. In his career he has recorded at least 50 cover tunes spread across about 20 releases and at least three full cover tunes albums. Outside of the new generation of Youtubers, I can’t think of an individual performer who has more covers tunes. The man is a vocal chameleon and a Metal jukebox loaded with historical favourites. He is a favourite of mine so consider this appendix a little tip of the hat to him.
STARFIRE (2000, AFM)
Edge of the Blade (Journey cover)
Break It Up (Foreigner cover)
The Day the Earth Caught Fire (City Boy cover)
Burn (Deep Purple cover)
Just the Same (Jefferson Starship cover)
UNLOCKING THE PAST (2007, Frontiers)
On and On (Michael Schenker Group cover)
Fool for Your Loving (Whitesnake cover)
Cold Sweat (Thin Lizzy cover)
Lonely Is the Word / Letters from Earth (Black Sabbath cover)
Burn (Deep Purple cover)
Feel Like Making Love (Bad Company cover)
Kill the King (Rainbow cover)
Perfect Strangers (Deep Purple cover)
Naked City (KISS cover)
The Day the Earth Caught Fire (City Boy cover)
JORN-Live In America (2007, Frontiers)
A double live album with 10 covers tunes included an 18 minute long Whitesnake medley.
SPIRIT BLACK (2009, Frontiers)
City in Between (Vagabond cover)
I Walk Alone (Tarja cover)
The Sun Goes Down (Thin Lizzy cover)
DIO (2010, Frontiers)
Jorn Lande pays tribute to Dio. This album mean the subject of brief controversy for a while as detractors claimed Jorn was cashing in on the death of Dio. It was quickly pointed out that this album was already completed and in stores for several months before Dio died. Great tribute with many deep cuts getting covered.
Song For Ronnie James
Shame On The Night
Stand Up And Shout
Don’t Talk To Strangers
Lord Of The Last Day
Lonely Is The World / Letters From Earth
Kill The King
Straight Through The Heart (Live)
HEAVY ROCK RADIO (2016, Frontiers)
I Know There’s Something Going On (Frida cover)
Running Up That Hill (Kate Bush cover)
Rev on the Red Line (Foreigner cover)
You’re the Voice (John Farnham cover)
Live to Win (Paul Stanley cover)
Don’t Stop Believin’ (Journey cover)
Killer Queen (Queen cover)
Hotel California (Eagles cover)
Rainbow in the Dark (Dio cover)
The Final Frontier (Iron Maiden cover)
Stormbringer (Deep Purple cover)
Die Young (Black Sabbath cover)
HEAVY ROCK RADIO II: EXECUTING THE CLASSICS (2020, FRONTIERS)
Lonely Nights (Bryan Adams cover)
Winning (Russ Ballard cover)
New York Minute (Don Henley cover)
Needles and Pins (The Searchers cover)
Love (Santana cover)
I Do Believe in You (Pages cover)
Nightlife (Foreigner cover)
Bad Attitude (Deep Purple cover)
Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn) (Manfred Mann’s Earth Band cover)
Mystery (Dio cover)
The Rhythm of the Heat (Peter Gabriel cover)
APPENDIX D-Covers in the digital realm. Pellek and beyond!
As the music industry evolves so does the technology and the model for generating revenue from producing music. With the rise of YouTube many artists generate a revenue stream not from selling actual albums, but from developing an audience and related spin-off money from advertising. There are many artists who do Heavy Metal covers albums but they only exist on-line, digitally. I did not cover these for two reasons. One there are many, (dozens) of artists who only exist on the internet. Secondly, because of the low production cost and ease and necessity of creating content (i.e., covers albums) there are literally hundreds of these albums, way too many to discuss.
I choose PelleK of Norway as a fine example of this. Pellek has generated almost 50 covers albums and EP’s in six years! He is one of many Youtubers who have embraced the new reality. Also it is good to note he has half a dozen actual physical albums of original content, all of which are top quality melodic Power Metal..just in case speed metal versions of theme songs of TV shows and video game theme songs aren’t your thing. Let’s look at his massive catalogue.
Covers Vol. 1 (2014)
Covers Vol. 2 (2014)
Covers Vol. 3 (2014)
Covers Vol. 4 (2014)
Covers Vol. 5 (2014)
PelleK’s Pokémon Medley (2014)
Covers Vol. 6 (2014)
Covers Vol. 7 (2014)
Power Rangers Megamix (2014)
Covers Vol. 8 (20140
Covers Vol. 9 (2014)
The ’90s Sitcom Metal Medley (2014)
Covers Vol. 10 (2014)
Covers Vol. 11 (2014)
Covers Vol. 12 (2014)
Covers Vol. 13 (2015)
Covers Vol. 14 (2015)
Covers Vol. 15 (2015)
Covers Vol. 16 (2015)
PelleK’s Naruto Medley (2015)
Covers Vol. 17 (2015)
PelleK’s Naruto Shippuden Medley (2015)
PelleK’s Bleach Medley (2015)
Covers Vol. 18 (2015)
Covers Vol. 19 (2015)
Covers Vol. 20 (2015)
PelleK’s One Piece Medley (2015)
Covers Vol. 21 (2016)
Covers Vol. 22 (2016)
Covers Vol. 23 (2016)
Anime Favorites (2016)
Covers Vol. 24 (2016)
PelleK’s Fairy Tail Medley (2016)
Covers Vol. 25 (2016)
All Gintama Openings (2016)
Covers Vol. 26 (2016)
Covers Vol. 27 (2017)
Covers Vol. 28 (2017)
Covers Vol. 29 (2017)
Covers Vol. 30 (2018)
Covers Vol. 31 (2018)
Evolution of Anime Openings (2018)
The Dragon Ball Medley (2018)
Covers Vol. 32 (2018)
Covers Vol. 33 (2018)
Covers Vol. 34 (2019)
The National Anthem Metal Medley (2019)
Covers Vol. 35 (2019)
Covers Vol. 36 (2020)
Covers Vol. 37 (2020)
Ultimate Disney Megamix (2020)
Thanks for reading!!