There are countless examples over the years of hard rock and heavy metal groups putting their own unique spins on classic songs from other genres, however, there’s not as much by way of that when the roles are reversed. Heavier styles of music aren’t as translatable it would seem when it comes to coating them in a new musical style but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
Whether it’s courtesy of a country music legend or a mainstream pop act – there have been instances where heavier genres of music have been reinterpreted in very different and ambitious ways. Want to know some of the best examples? You’ve come to the right place. This list puts a spotlight on those artists who took on the daunting mission of re-imagining heavy classics in their own distinctive styles, and needless to say, some of the results are astounding…
10. Agent Orange – Seek and Destroy (Metallica)
Metallica are almost an impossible band for other metal bands to cover because their influence can already be felt in much of the metal output of today. The musical outcome for the majority of the time is negligible because most artists don’t know how to make the songs their own. But what happens when a unique punk group take on the challenge?
Well, if you’re talking about Agent Orange’s take on “Seek and Destroy,” the word that comes to mind is ‘exhilarating.’ That’s because not only do the punk rockers attack the song with the same ferocity as Hetfield and company, but they also coat it in their own interesting brand of surf guitar licks and driving drum workouts.
Most other bands would fail to deliver the goods with this stylistic concoction, but then again, most other bands aren’t legends in their chosen genre. What you’re left with is a vicious cocktail of two styles melded perfectly together. Surf and destroy anyone?
9. The Qemists – Blind (Korn)
Nu-metal pioneers Korn may not have had the most successful foray into the world of dub-step and drum ‘n’ bass, but perhaps their blending of heavy metal and dance music isn’t completely unworkable. In fact, British outfit The Qemists proved just as much when they decided to take on the track “Blind” in their own electronic-infused way.
Surprisingly, the results are rather on-point despite the severe shift in musical style. They turn this one into a shimmering anthemic clubber thanks to some seriously walloping bass drops and adrenaline-pumping synth lines. It’s nothing groundbreaking in terms of its structural variation, however, it is a cohesive repackaging of an alt-metal classic.
If there’s going to be another “Path to Totality” album from Korn, here’s hoping it sounds a bit more like this rather than the misguided attempt we got back in 2011…
8. Tori Amos – Raining Blood (Slayer)
It goes without saying that few songs in metal are quite as intense as the quintessential Slayer cut “Raining Blood,” and it’s that intensity which gives it so much venom. Given all that, it’s surprising that a pianist would take the opportunity to turn that ballistic belter into something radically different.
Yes, through her unique use of misty atmospherics and delicate piano strokes, prolific singer-songwriter Tori Amos made “Raining Blood” her own. While the sound, structure and choice of instrumentation is much different to the original, one facet that hasn’t gone missing in the stylistic transition is the strong sense of foreboding that permeates it.
You have to give it to Amos for her ambition on this one – injecting the track with a strong sedative while simultaneously channeling the same evil undercurrent of this particularly hellish track.
7. Richard Cheese – Down with the Sickness (Disturbed)
While it’s certainly not a favorite of mine, Disturbed’s “Down with the Sickness” has become somewhat of a modern metal staple since its release in 2000. Thankfully, for anyone who didn’t enjoy the alt-metal group’s attempt at it, there was always parody act Richard Cheese’s stellar version.
Chances are you heard this in the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead, and even without the gory visuals and hilarious montages, the song still manages to stand on its own. This cheeky little adaptation is brought to life by some jazzy drum patterns and lounge piano work – the complete antithesis of the original. Complete with a grand show tune outro, this cover is nothing but expertly composed.
What makes it even more effective is the dark lyrical content being transmuted into this swinging, carefree little ditty that’s just too much fun to be about anything sorrowful – or at least that’s what the comedy performer would have you believe. The strange thing is it works on so many levels that it’s hard not to be convinced that it’s anything but joyous. Bravo!
6. Dizzee Rascal – Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana)
Hardcore Nirvana fans might not like the idea of a rap-centric adaptation of their most beloved track, however, they should at least give UK grime artist Dizzee Rascal a chance. Why? Because his love for the band’s troubled frontman Kurt Cobain runs much deeper than just performing a random cover.
Speaking with The Daily Mail in 2008 about “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” he said “Obviously I’m not supposed to like this, ‘because I is black’, but the first time I heard it I was really moved. It got me into listening to different types of music.” Rascal shows his admiration on his version by retaining the same instrumental backbone of the cut as well as the same vocal aggression – the key differences being his unique vocal tone and free-flowing rhythmic rhymes.
It may be more of a mash-up than a genuine cover, but we’re giving it a pass, because, you know… it’s Dizzee!
More awesome covers on the next page…