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10 Awesome Metal Covers Of Country Classics

Black hat cowboys.

Country Covers

Even white hat cowboys have friends in low places, and that's where the worlds of country and metal collide. Both genres get deep into the darkest phases of life… drinkin', druggin', killin' and even the Devil himself. It's all up for grabs when sonic outlaws pick up a guitar.

The metal artists in this list covered everything from pop country to traditional western staples. Even if country music isn't your jam, you're bound to find something you can appreciate below.

Megadeth – “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” (Nancy Sinatra)

Our first metal-goes-country banger is also our most controversial. In the early days of Megadeth, Dave Mustaine brought his thrash brilliance and unapologetic attitude to Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.” Mustaine turned the G-rated classic into a sex-fueled romp that seriously pissed off original songwriter Lee Hazlewood. Legal action was taken a decade after Megadeth first released the cover, but according to Mustaine, Hazlewood had no issue taking royalties throughout those 10 years. 

Judas Priest – “Diamonds and Rust” (Joan Baez)

“Diamonds and Rust” is essentially a perfect folk song. It’s emotionally devastating, beautifully paced and immaculately performed by Joan Baez. With that high bar set ahead of them, Judas Priest recorded a killer cover that’s withstood the winds of time. Led by a gallop of electric triplets, Priest’s cover soars as Rob Halford unleashes his legendary pipes while laying his heart bare. It’s a perfect example of paying tribute to the original while making it authentically your own. 

Children of Bodom – “Ghost Riders in the Sky” (Various)

Often cited as one of the greatest western songs of all time, “Ghost Riders in the Sky” is an outlaw tradition that goes back 75 years. Though it was written by Stan Jones, the most famous version was recorded by Johnny Cash for his 1979 Silver album. It’s likely this version that inspired Children of Bodom’s killer cover, punctuated by phantasmic gang vocals and Alexi Laiho’s wailing whammy bar. Overall, it’s maybe the most underrated cover of Bodom’s career. 

James Hetfield – “Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Out of Hand” (Waylon Jennings)

Metallica legend James Hetfield has a long history with Waylon Jennings’ music. Hetfield’s father was a big fan, and the future metal frontman began to appreciate the outlaw country pioneer at the young age of 12. Hetfield and Jennings would later become friends, bonding around the business of music, and shortly after Jennings’ death, James Hetfield performed the artist’s classic “Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Out of Hand.” Sure, Metallica covered Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page,” which was also recorded by Jennings, but this cut (recorded live on CMT Outlaws) feels like a much more personal tribute from Hetfield.

Dragonforce – “Ring of Fire” (Johnny Cash)

Put away your preconceptions about what this cover may sound like, because the reality is gonna blow them away. Nobody asked for Dragonforce to cover Johnny Cash’s biggest song. The idea is even likely to set off your “ick” detector, but damn it… this cover is fucking great. The power metal adaptation of the song’s main riff, the vocal harmonies during the chorus… it’s just a serotonin factory.

Lemmy Kilmister & Wendy O. Williams – “Stand by Your Man” (Tammy Wynette)

This cover is cigarettes personified. The rock ’n’ roll dream team of Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister and the PlasmaticsWendy O. Williams took Tammy Wynette’s signature song and drowned it in filth, creating a punk-metal hybrid meant for the dingiest pool hall in town. How Wendy was able to make her voice more gravelly than Lemmy’s remains a mystery to this day.

Devildriver – "Country Heroes" (Hank III)

Even to the biggest Devildriver fan, this cover came out shockingly great. Hank Williams III actually appeared on this cover of his own song, helping turn “Country Heroes” from a chill outlaw country cut to Ozzy Osbourne’s metal fever dream. Dez Fafara belts out some vicious screams on this country-to-metal crossover, and the slide guitar slapped onto this song is just fantastic. Bust out your cheapest whiskey for this banger.

Cloud Rat – “The Needle and the Damage Done” (Neil Young)

Chances are you haven’t heard this cover, but you’re about to be glad you did. Michigan grindcore merchants Cloud Rat spewed out an emotionally devastating take on Neil Young’s iconic “The Needle and the Damage Done” for their 2013 album, Moksha. The give-and-take between extreme metal and near-indie rock on this cover is absolutely crushing. The guitar work is beautiful and atmospheric, as is the vocal performance before the gut-churning screams begin. 

Korn & Yelawolf – “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” (The Charlie Daniels Band)

No way. Just no fucking way. How? This can’t really be Korn. Well… it is, and it’s kind of awesome. Jonathan Davis and rapper/singer Yelawolf trade off spoken-word verses before both vocalists take on the song’s iconic chorus. Korn practically go power metal with their twin guitar attack, bringing almost no nü-metal flair to the up-beat cover. Who knew the boys from Bakersfield could be so versatile? 

All That Remains – “The Thunder Rolls” (Garth Brooks)

Outlaw country covers are one thing… but Garth Brooks? The guy pretty much invented bro country and was essentially a pop star. Well, metal bands have done plenty of great pop covers, and All That Remains’ version of “The Thunder Rolls” hits all the right notes. All That Remains didn’t try and toughen up the song — they took its melodic beauty and kept it perfectly in tact, plus Oli Herbert’s outro guitar solo is absolutely beautiful. This was a home run. 

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