Who doesn’t love to see a band conclude a concert with their own unique rendition of a classic Black Sabbath song?! Cover tracks can be a great way to pay homage to beloved artists and also a means of spreading awareness of obscure groups that not everyone may remember. However, covers can also make fans feel like the victims of a mass "Sadistik Exekution." When a metal act takes advantage of a crowd's captivity to force-feed ticketholders 5-minutes of torture contrived by the latest insipid teen wonder, more raised brows may appear in the audience than pumping fists. This kind of experience may leave you feeling rickrolled.
If you ever need to troll an ABBA-hating friend, we recommend Troldhaugen's "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Troll After Midnight).” However, your other options include ABBA's fellow Swedes Therion and Yngwie Malmsteen. The shocking truth is that even many black metallers enjoy letting loose to Scandi pop every now and then when off-duty. That said, a truly really great cover can force you to question your identity as a music lover: How could something once thought so wrong suddenly sound so right?! Sometimes what begins as an epic troll ends in love.
After all, how could we survive summer without Blind Guardian's totally groovy recording of the Beach Boys' "Surfin' USA"?! You might know that Ozzy Osbourne reimagined "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees with the help of Dweezil Zappa. Perhaps no other original metal band has produced as many noteworthy covers as Children of Bodom. They have taken on Britney Spears, Kenny Rogers, Eddie Murphy, Roxette, etc. At one concert, CoB even began to play Céline Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic (1997). If they had not balked, we are sure that the results would have been hysterical. If you are craving a metal spin on this sentimental theme song, however, know that DragonForce actually rocked it on their latest album, Extreme Power Metal (2019).
CoB's fellow Finns certainly have some of the best covers, but also some of the most bizarre. When wading through the murky waters of Finnish metal, expect to stumble across odd ducks like TrollfesT's "Happy" (Pharrell Williams), To/Die/For's "Straight Up" (Paula Abdul), Finntroll's "Can You Forgive Her?" (Pet Shop Boys), and Ensiferum's "I'll Stay by Your Side" (The Lollipops). Speaking of strange, one of the most memorable slices of derangement is the brief outro from Mayhem's Deathcrush (1987), which is a silly group interpretation of Cliff Richards and The Young Ones' "(All the Little Flowers Are) Happy."
Brace yourselves for our list of awesome cover songs by extreme metal bands that were originally performed by non-metal acts. Which of these unlikely tracks will surprise you the most?
Shining — "Utan Dina Andetag" (Kent)
Shining's mastermind, Niklas Kvarforth, is an Antichrist Pop Star. "Straight Outta Halmstad," the DSBM legend is constantly finding new and creative ways to distance himself from the BM scene. The Fresh Prince of Sweden lifts a leg over our expectations and showers us in bloody gold every time. (The ever-charming Niklas is known for cutting himself onstage. His confounding antics have included drinking urine. This is important to note because when considering the depths of Niklas' inner darkness, the bright side of his personality becomes all the more blinding.)
The 4-song EP Lots of Girls Gonna Get Hurt (2012) was certainly one way that the "Varg utan flock," or "Wolf Without a Pack" has managed to reaffirm his singularity as an artist. We adore Niklas' cover of Kent's pop rock tune "Utan dina andetag," or "Without Your Breath," which is the EP's second song. This nostalgic track will make you feel as if you are skipping through a field of moths and black dahlias, leaving crushed petals in your wake. Niklas' clean vocals arouse an unshakeable sense of Sehnsucht: "Jag kan inte ens gå utan din luft i mina lungor. Jag kan inte ens stå när du inte ser på. Och färglös som en tår blir jag utan dina andetag." / "I can't even walk without your air in my lungs. I can't even stand when you are not looking. And colorless as a tear I become without your breath?"
That's not to say that the rest of this EP is not incredibly sexy as well. It will impregnate the following phrase, which Shining Legions so cleverly printed on merch, with rich meaning: "I have a boyfriend at home[,] but I think of Niklas Kvarforth when he fucks me." Niklas steals our hearts with his popular interpretation of Katatonia's "For My Demons." In doing so, the former sex worker convinces us of the following: "You would never sleep at night… if you knew what I've been through." On Lots of Girls Gonna Get Hurt, Niklas also spellbinds us by breathing new life into Imperiet's "Kung av jidder" and Poets of the Fall's "Carnival of Rust by Poets" — "… I'm thirsty for your love dancing underneath the skies of lust."
For those who find Lots of Girls Gonna Get Hurt a little hard to swallow, Niklas explained his creative intentions to author Dayal Patterson: "I want Shining to be black metal's version of Tokio Hotel — or a black metal version of Opeth for that matter… I want it to be big. I've always been inspired by Kent for example, who have been a huge inspiration since the second album…" The broader Niklas' demographic is, the more misanthropy he will be able to spread. Yet, Niklas' grand ambitions do not make him a sellout. On the contrary, he told interviewer Marcus J. West: "I always want to create something that comes from my heart." Niklas' unmitigated passion has made him one of the only vocalists who can still trigger BMers.
Keep in mind that Shining has made many other marvelous covers, which can be found elsewhere: Seigmen's "Ohm (Sommar med Siv)," Rammstein's "Ohne dich," Landberk's "I nattens timma," Gerard McMahon's "Cry Little Sister," etc. These jewels will make you want to repeat the words of a famous all-American song that was incorporated into Shining's "Förtvivlan, Min Arvedel": "[Niklas,] You are my sunshine!" Niklas has stated that in the future, he would also like to tackle content by Prince, Madonna, and Rihanna.
Sodom — "[A] Hazy Shade of Winter" (Simon & Garfunkel)
Sodom's "Hazy Shade of Winter" could very well be one of the greatest covers of all time. These German thrashers own this Simon & Garfunkel 1960s single 100%. The results leave us speechless. After all, Sodom had to devise new shock tactics on record no. 8, 'Til Death Do Us Unite (1997): The brilliant cover art depicts a skull that is held up by the respective bulges of the bellies of a fat male and pregnant female. This gives you a taste of the sonic onslaught to come. Sodom heightens the trolling effect of "Hazy Shade of Winter" by slipping it in slightly after the middle of the record, where it follows the title track and is least expected. The lyrics here are actually pretty bleak, so if you have failed to see the darkness in this New York duo hitherto, you now stand corrected.
Keep in mind that Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence" has been recorded by Black Label Society, Nevermore, Queensrÿche, Disturbed, the rock/metal group Bobaflex, and so forth. Before moving on to those covers, however, you will definitely want to check out Sodom's twist on Trashmen's "Surfin' Bird"; Eurovision-winner Udo Jürgens' "Aber bitte mit Sahne," or "But Please with Cream"; Bryan Adams' "The Kids Wanna Rock" (You do realize that the "Heaven" singer snapped the photograph used on the cover of Rammstein's latest album, Zeit , right?!), and many more.
Darkthrone — "Love in a Void" (Siouxsie and the Banshees)
"Love in a Void" offered Fenriz the perfect opportunity to demonstrate just how bombastic, animated, and eccentric he can be. This dramatic cover is so amusing that we think that Fenriz should consider a career as a thespian. His vocals are killer. Thank you, Nocturno Culto, for adding your energy and rage to this guitar-smashing track as well.
After this pick, we recommend that you enjoy Darkthrone's cover of "Bad Attitude" by the NYC punk oldies Testors: "I try to keep a good attitude each and every day…" Could it really be the author and voice of "F.O.A.D." who wails these words?! Personally, what gives me a bad attitude are those people who criticize Darkthrone for allowing diverse influences to permeate their art. As Fenriz says, focusing on just one type of music is not the most fruitful path for music connoisseurs. When listening to demo tapes, Fenriz himself looks for "varied musical taste."
Tulus — "Space Oddity" (David Bowie)
Many metal bands have covered David Bowie, but Tulus' "Space Oddity" is an underappreciated gem. This most excellent surprise is the perfect finale to Cold Core Collection (2000). Tulus' interpretation is not only great, but it also seems to have been extremely well thought out. The parts with clean vocals flow so beautifully into those with harsh vocals and vice versa. If you are a person who has only recently fallen to earth, and therefore remain ignorant of Bowie, you will definitely think that this has to be an original song.
Catamenia — "Born to Be My Baby" (Bon Jovi)
Mr. John Francis Bongiovi Jr., a.k.a. Jon Bon Jovi, has divided the metal community. On one hand, the likes of Steel Panther's frontman, Michael Starr, and the late Children of Bodom mastermind, Alexi Laiho, love and loved him! Meanwhile, artists like Metallica's James Hetfield simply detest the Sayreville native. Ironically, the more you hate Bon Jovi, the greater the effect Catamenia's "Born to Be My Baby" will have on you. Catamenia's version of this single from New Jersey (1988) appears on their tenth studio album, The Rewritten Chapters (2012). This tune is so groovy that it will make you want to get down and dirty. The raw vocals rock. Tomorrow, you will definitely want to eat your words for breakfast when you catch yourself singing these corny lyrics aloud: "Light a candle. Blow the world away. Table for two on a TV tray. It ain't fancy, baby. That's okay. Our time. Our way." Yes, it is good that this song extols the virtues of hard work and frugality. Nevertheless, the level of hokey tri-state sap with which Bon Jovi infuses "Born to Be My Baby" could drive any sane person to move to the West Coast.
Mors Principium Est — "The Call" (Backstreet Boys)
Mors Principium Est's "The Call" delivers exactly what you would expect from a Finnish melodic death metal band. You can find this Backstreet Boys' hit on Mors Principium Est's fourth album, …And Death Said Live (2012).
In addition, a defunct Norwegian grindcore band called Endwarfment made a rare cover of "The Call" that is truly one of the most amazing tracks you will ever hear. This version is mad avant-garde art with a multidimensional vocal performance that includes imitated female vocals during the mock phone conversation. Aura Noir's Aggressor and his Ved Buens Ende co-founder, Dødheimsgard's Vicotnik, each played with Endwarfment prior to this recording.
We know what you're thinking: "The Backstreet Boys are not very metal." Wrong! A song about cheating on your girlfriend can be interpreted as fairly metal if you think that quick hookups at the expense of interpersonal relationships rock. "The Call" is indeed pretty blasphemous, even if you consider its main crime to be one against music. Besides, what most people do not realize is that the Backstreet Boys actually love Rammstein. No joke: They have performed "Du hast." Nick Carter even documented his experience at a Rammstein concert with his wife in a brief Instagram video. Warning: Mrs. Carter's butchering of the word "Sonne" is definitely among the most brutal things we've heard.
Tankard — "Elke" (Die Ärzte)
It is delightful to hear the Teutonic thrash metal heroes Tankard perform in Die Ärzte's cute, whiny, and frenetic style. They nailed it! Die Ärzte, or The Doctors, are Germany’s hottest punk band. Surely, Böhse Onkelz and Die Toten Hosen fans will object, but seasoned listeners know that nothing really compares to the mighty Berlin-based trio that has been breaking hearts from 1982 onward: “Farin Urlaub,” Jan Vetter; Dirk Albert Felsenheimer, “Bela B.”; and “Rod,” Rodrigo González (since 1993). These three musicians are ridiculously witty and charming. Although their lyrics can push some serious boundaries, Die Ärzte still retain an innocent, friendly, and even beachy air.
Whereas the pleasingly crude and rude Tankard is an "Alcoholic Metal" band, Die Ärzte sing about eating flowers — "Ich ess Blumen" / "I Eat Flowers." Farin is a non-smoker, teetotaler, and pescatarian. His bandmates practice similarly healthy lifestyles. Thus, Die Ärzte must love Tankard's "Stone Cold Sober," although it is sarcastic. That said, it is safe to say that on the surface, there does not seem to be much of a meeting place between these two collectives aside from their German efficiency: Tankard has released 18 studio albums while the count for Die Ärzte is 14.
Nevertheless, despite Die Ärzte's dreamy allure, their brand of humor is definitely something to which Tankard would be able to relate. We won't assume that the über-funny single "Teenager Liebe" is Tankard's jam, but they probably get a rise out of the bestial "Claudia hat 'nen Schäferhund" / "Claudia Has a German Shepherd," for instance. "Elke" tells the story of a man who falls in love with an obese woman shortly after connecting with her by phone. She sends him a picture: "Sie sah aus wie eine Pizza. sie war wunder-wunderschön." / "She looked like a pizza. She was beati-beautiful!" The two meet and become a couple. The man even musters the courage to have sex with Elke without an oxygen mask. She dies after he insults her body. Shame on him!
Exhumed — "Material Girl" (Madonna)
If you are not a fan of Madonna, the mere act of hearing Exhumed's cover of "Material Girl" will definitely make the original seem less painful. The knowledge that Exhumed took the care to butcher this song so artfully should fill your inner sadist with vicarious pleasure. You can practically smell the disemboweled organs on this wayward masterpiece: It sounds like death in the style of A Serbian Film (2010). Exhumed first included "Material Girl" on the demo Grotesque Putrefied Brains (1993). In 2020, these California deathgrinders came together from their separate spheres to reinterpret this song yet again for the purpose of a Corona isolation video.
Maybe you have a positive opinion of Madonna and feel hurt by Exhumed's mockery?! The Hamburg-based outfit Lord of the Lost has covered Madonna's "Frozen," Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" and "Judas," Eminem and Rihanna's "Love the Way You Lie," Backstreet Boys' "Everybody (Backstreet's Back), and so on. Granted, Lord of the Lost isn't exactly an extreme metal band in the typical sense: They combine elements from a diverse pool of genres, such as pop, glam, industrial metal, etc. Nonetheless, they are extreme-ly awesome and can be quite provocative.
Forgotten Tomb — "Papercuts" (Nirvana)
Forgotten Tomb was formed as a depressive BM band in 1999. Their career has been marked by different periods. However, Forgotten Tomb's most recent offering, Nihilistic Estrangement (2020), seems to capture the essence of this band as a whole, combining past eras into something present. Forgotten Tomb's most excellent rendition of Nirvana's "Paper Cuts," which FT spells as one word, appears on their fifth record, Vol. 5: 1999-2009 (2010). Vol 5 is the second album in a trilogy that is defined by Forgotten Tomb's shift toward a more progressive direction. The album's title and cover art are, of course, homages to Black Sabbath Vol. 4 (1972). You can hear "Black Sabbath (Black Sabbath Cover) / Subway Apathy" and "Depression" (Black Flag Cover) / Feedback" on this release as well.
Psychonaut 4 — "I Wanna Be Your Dog" (The Stooges)
The beautiful nation of Georgia is known for its hospitality, great food, wine, etc. The list of famous Georgian painters, opera singers, ballet dancers, princes, and other cultural dignitaries is extensive enough to give you the feeling of a hangover. Thankfully, Psychonaut 4 proves that Georgia also provides a fertile soil for suicidal black metal. This modern genre-fusing band has won over many advocates since forming in 2010. Psychonaut 4's cover of "I Wanna Be Your Dog" begins with chatter and the sound of clinking. This is followed by Gregorian-style chanting: "Now I wanna be your dog," which gives way to a savage black n' roll interpretation of Iggy Pop's iconic hit. Granted, the idea of a metal band covering this wonderfully sick song does not seem all that strange. The last band on our list has an excellent cover of "I Wanna Be Your Dog" as well. Nevertheless, Psychonaut 4's ingenious spin totally catches us off-guard.
Mork's Thomas Eriksen is a music expert with something to say on this topic. While featuring the legendary ex-Turbonegro vocalist Harald Fossberg on his podcast, Eriksen stated: "… the first album [The Stooges, 1969] and especially 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' that has to be one of the first black metal songs if you ask me. That sound and that dark riff — fucking perfect!"
Eisregen — "Lili Marleen" (Lale Andersen)
Let’s be honest: Eisregen is one of the most fantastically bizarre bands in existence. Yet, "Lili Marleen" is not a track that you would expect to find in their discography. "Lili Marleen," which rose to international fame during WWII, is a love song with a long history. Its text dates back to 1915. It was recorded in 1939 by Lale Andersen and was also famously performed by none other than Marlene Dietrich. This song has had a massive cultural impact. Cinema's late enfant terrible Rainer Werner Fassbinder even directed a 1981 movie named in its honor. Surprisingly, "Lili Marleen" has actually been recorded by other metal acts like Atrocity, who beat Eisregen to the punch by five years. All the same, we feel that it is Eisregen's cover that casts the song in its proper after so many decades. Although others have done the same, we will note that the effect of Eisregen's exaggerated rolling "Rs" lends a rustic charm.
Carpathian Forest — "A Forest" (The Cure)
At first, you might think that Carpathian Forest's decision to cover The Cure's "A Forest" seems somewhat gimmicky; but then, you will realize that it's actually pretty adorable in a Halloween dress-up sort of way: "I'm lost in a forest all alone. The girl was never there. It's always the same. I'm running towards nothing again and again…" This sexy, whispered song will put you into arctic-chill mode. It's as refreshing as a "nordavind," or northern wind. "A Forest" is the finale to Black Shining Leather (1998). That means that it follows songs like "Sadomasochistic" and "Pierced Genitalia" — "The toes that you step on today may be connected to the ass you'll be kissing tomorrow." After an album like this, Carpathian Forest certainly earned the right to deviate from BM norms. "A Forest" has been recorded by several other metal bands as well: Behemoth enlisted the help of Niklas Kvarforth for their version, which debuted in 2020.
Nachtblut — "Alles nur geklaut" (Die Prinzen)
No black-ish band that regularly uses keyboards has the right to be as cool as Nachtblut. In truth, they are more of a dark metal band, but they definitely incorporate enough BM elements to warrant our respect. Although Nachtblut could be viewed as more "trendy" and "goth" than other BM-inspired groups, they belong in their own category. Nachtblut stands apart from other slavish and pathetic clone bands in that they have created their own style to keep darkness fresh, appealing, and catchy in the 21st century.
Who would think that Nachtblut could take a 1993 hit from Die Prinzen, a pop outfit from Leipzig, and brand it with their distinctive hallmarks?! Nachtblut's interpretation of "Alles nur geklaut," or "Everything Just Stolen," appears on the later Napalm Records and Mort Productions versions of their 2009 sophomore album, Antik. This cover is sweet, brutal, and it will actually make you want to dance. This earworm is about a rich and famous poser of a musician. This anti-hero is simply a plagiarizing fraud who has yet to be found out. The lyrics actually, which critically juxtapose naiveté and cynicism, fit well with Nachtblut's material, which often explores how more dominant forces exert their control over the masses. You may know and love tracks like "Das Puppenhaus" and "Leierkinder" from Vanitas (2020). Appropriately, Die Prinzen's video for "Alles nur geklaut" features recreations of other famous music videos. How very meta. We would like to see Nachtblut do the same with extreme metal clips as their focus.
Mütiilation — "My Way" (Frank Sinatra)
Thank Satan for bands like Mütiilation — one of the pioneers of the world's best movement, DSBM. From their first demo, Rites Through the Twilight of Hell (1992), which included songs like "Blasphemous Suicide," Mütiilation had that extra depressive layer. Mütiilation is a winning combination of sickness, despair, rawness, necro sound, and outlandishness. In other words, Mütiilation is exactly what you want to listen to on a sunny day. Mütiilation is an uncommercial bundle of fun.
Mütiilation was formed in France in 1991 and soon became the one-man project of Meyhna'ch, who eventually laid the effort to rest in 2017. On Meyhna'ch's part, choosing to tackle "My Way" was actually a brilliant decision: "And now, the end is near…" After all, "My Way" was originally a French song. The English-language lyrics were written by Paul Anka at a later date and are unrelated to the French words. Mütiilation treacherously used Paul Anka's text. Nonetheless, Mütiilation's morbid yet entertaining cover is as fresh as the version by the hard-drinking rat-packer known as Frank Sinatra has become stale for many borough-dwelling urbanites due to overuse. You can find what we will unofficially call "Mütiilation's Way" on the split album Entrails to the Dirt (2005), which also features Deathspell Omega, Malicious Secrets, and Antaeus.
"My Way" is one of the many songs that has been reimagined by the Finnish symphonic metal cover supergroup Northern Kings: Again, like LoTL, they may not be an extreme metal outfit, but you should definitely check them out. Although Northern Kings disbanded in 2010, they have recently reunited. The lineup consists of ex-Charon's amazing vocalist Juha-Pekka Leppäluoto, Teräsbetoni's Jarkko Ahola, Sonata Arctica's Tony Kakko, ex-Nightwish's Marko Hietala. Interestingly, Marko also belonged to the Finnish Black Sabbath cover band Sapattivuosi.
Vondur — "Love Me Tender" (Elvis Presley)
R.I.P Vondur (1993-1998): This Swedish black metal band was the side project of the late and great IT, who founded the True Satanist Horde, and the surviving All. Both artists were partners in crime in Ophthalamia and Abruptum. These miscreants reimagined Elvis' "Love Me Tender" in an astoundingly savage way. Their mind-bending cover is even accented with the sound of gunshots, explosions, and heavenly guitars. All goes all out as he fills the second half of the song with lovely lyrical additions: "Squeeze my fucking d*ck, you p*ssy." All continues after some screaming: "Spread your legs for me. C*nt, open wide. You f*cking wh*re. Oh yeah, baby!" What do you want to bet that Elvis Presley really uttered these very words at one point or another, albeit not onstage?!