10 Artists Who’ve Put Awesome Unique Spins On Heavy Classics
5. The Cardigans – Iron Man (Black Sabbath)
Ever imagined Black Sabbath’s towering anthem “Iron Man” transformed into an easy listening lounge track? No, me neither but that’s not to say that it can’t work. Just ask Swedish pop act The Cardigans – the group that actually achieved that unthinkable feat.
Casual music fans will know the group best for their lovey-dovey 1996 hit song “Lovefool,” but dig a little deeper into their discography and you’ll find that they’re a group who like to go against the grain. On this imaginative cover, the group replace the hard riffage and barking vocals with light guitar flourishes and soft angelic vocals. Combined with mellow basslines and fluttering drumbeats, the results are actually quite astonishing.
And if that wasn’t enough, the band have also covered Sabbath mainstays “Changes” and “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” – indicating that the love runs deep for the Birmingham, England trailblazers. So kick back, relax, and absorb an old metal classic in a way you never even thought possible before.
4. Feist – Black Tongue (Mastodon)
When indie singer-songwriter Feist saw modern metal saviors Mastodon perform “Black Tongue” on Jools Holland in 2011, Feist was so impressed that she approached the group regarding some form of collaboration. What we ended up with was a split EP under the eyebrow-raising moniker Feistodon.
The special Record Store Day release featured Mastodon covering Feist’s “A Commotion,” while Feist covered the fierce and fiery “Black Tongue.” Fierce and fiery doesn’t quite match what Feist brought to the table, but rather, off-kilter and spooky might be better superlatives for this particular cover. This ramshackle effort is barely able to stay together due to its own rickety structure – but it’s one packed full of interesting takes on the original track.
It’s certainly not going to replace the original, but as an ambitious reinterpretation of a modern metal classic, there’s certainly a lot to be appreciated here.
3. Rodrigo Y Gabriela – Orion (Metallica)
“Orion” by Metallica is a perfect example of how proficient the Bay Area thrashers were at incorporating classical scales and dynamics into their edgy metal sound. It’s a masterclass in guitar virtuosity and a stunning piece of music no matter what genre you want to talk about.
It should come as no surprise then that the song would find new life thanks to classically trained guitar duo Rodrigo Y Gabriela. This instrumental two-piece from Mexico expertly strip the song down to its bare bones, utilizing their own distinct musicianship to shed some new light onto an already masterful composition. Incredibly, they do this by going full-on acoustic for the complete duration of the track.
The stunning flamenco guitar work gives the song a whole new fresh vibe, while keeping the same intensity from a performance standpoint that made the track so great to begin with. Metallica meets Rodrigo Y Gabriela – and the results are a thing of beauty.
2. Pat Boone – Crazy Train (Ozzy Osbourne)
If you watched The Osbournes and you’re a fan of everyone’s favorite metal madman, then you’ll have most likely questioned exactly what you’re hearing in the show’s soundtrack. Yes, that is “Crazy Train” but not like you’ve ever heard it before.
You can thank Pat Boone for that – the performer who bravely took this challenge head on in his 1997 record In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy. He turns it into a big stringed, jazzed up free-for-all which completely goes off the rails (no pun intended). Sure the “Choo choo” parts are beyond cheesy, but the rest of the song works in its own quirky little way.
This is truly a creative cover of a metal mainstay – one which actually gives the track a totally different feel and vibe. Of course, when it’s in the hands of a legendary crooner like Pat Boone, it should probably come as no surprise that it turned out as well as it did.
1. Johnny Cash – Rusty Cage (Soundgarden)
Of all the songs on this list, no other artist made their chosen song their own quite the same as our No. 1 entry. He may of delivered one of the greatest cover songs of all time with Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt,” but Johnny Cash’s rendition of the much heavier “Rusty Cage” certainly isn’t far behind.
Originally performed by grunge pioneers Soundgarden, “Rusty Cage” was a chaotic and turbulent composition in the hands of the group. With the late great country icon at the helm, the track becomes a much more solemn and smothering affair thanks largely to Cash’s supreme vocal delivery.
The desolate riff, galloping drumbeat, and emotive singing make way for a gin-soaked, electrified outro – culminating in a stunning re-imagining of a Soundgarden favorite. He may be gone, but this masterful musician will most certainly not be forgotten.