When it comes to covers, the act of covering another artist’s song, this endeavour can be a tricky subject. Although a cover can often provide a gateway to introducing fans to the bands that have inspired their favourite artists, the execution of these ideas can often be hit or miss. Stick too rigidly to the source material provided and you really just have a note for note cover with no real purpose (think Six Feet Under’s Graveyard Classics) or stray too far from the original and you get a song that satisfies no one (Slayer’s cover of Steppenwolf’s Born To Be Wild). However, when done just right, a cover can be worthy addition to any band’s catalogue- even to their live set. Without further ado, I’d like to present my selection of songs (from a range of alternative/rock/metal styles) and the bands that should give it a shot.
To clarify, for each song I’ve selected one band who would play in a fairly similar manner to the original, and another who could give it different spin on it.
Metallica “Sad But True” (Metallica, 1991)
This hit, from Metallica’s world-conquering ‘Black album’, has a distinct metallic stomp that absolutely crushes. From that stomping riff through to the brooding chorus, leading up to Kirk Hammett’s epic solo, the entirety of the song makes the listener want to pound their fist and bang their head in unison to the pounding drums. I feel that Hatebreed’s style of music (when you consider songs like Destroy Everything and In Ashes They Shall Reap) is ideally suited to this tune. However, I think that Jamey Jasta’s harsh barks, alongside a few gang chants, would make this already huge anthem that little bit heavier and grittier.
Considering Cavalera Conspiracy’s thrashier leanings, especially when compared to Soulfly’s groovier bounce, I think that Max Cavalera and Co. would provide a different angle to this song. I can imagine that it would be played a little bit more uptempo but looser and more energetically than the original, to correspond with Max’s more relaxed approach to playing guitar. James Hetfield’s evil singing would be switched with Max’s throaty roars, although I’m sure Marc Rizzo’s tight and technical leads would provide a sure nod to the original and tie together the whole ensemble.
Pixies “Gigantic” (Surfer Rosa, 1988)
From the subdued opening verse to the gigantic (see what I did there!?) chorus, this is a catchy single that Deftones could comfortably master, in particular vocalist Chino Moreno. His softer croon would be able to easily handle Kim Deal’s singing, and Frank Black’s wail in the background could be replicated in a synth/electronic form by Frank Delgado. The guitars, simultaneously jangling and crunchy, could be thickened up by Stephen Carpenter, and the use of guitar feedback during the pre-chorus would suit Deftones’ blend of organic and synthetic soundscapes.
Although this song would play to Bury Tomorrow’s greatest strength, memorable and soaring melodies sung by Jason Cameron, I think they could make this single much heavier. They could use the bass line that introduces the track and incorporate choppy, palm-muted chords, and on top of that lead guitarist Kristan Dawson can lay down some tasty leads. Vocalist Daniel Winter-Bates would provide his gruff growls during the verses, before teaming up with Jason Cameron during the pre-chorus.
Slayer “Jesus Saves” (Reign In Blood, 1986)
Whilst both bands are undeniably thrash, Municipal Waste come from a more cross-over school of thought, where punk and metal mesh together. Therefore, it would make sense for the band to take this break-neck thrasher and play it with their distinctive punk energy, as Tony Foresta would breathlessly spit out verses and drummer Dave Witte would employ a D beat style of drumming too. The cover would also contain a hint more melody than Slayer’s rendition- as Municipal Waste don’t fixate on darker riffs and leads like Slayer.
It’s no secret really that Cannibal Corpse vocalist George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher has mastered the art of deep growls and tongue-twisting verse so its clear that he would competently execute Tom Araya’s vocal style. However, the band could definitely take this track into darker and more blood-spattered territories. The distorted and down-tuned guitars, would make the song far heavier and more brutal, and combining it with the flailing thrash riffing would give the track a similar frantic intensity to previous ‘Corpse’ material like ‘Frantic Disembowelment’ or ‘Demented Aggression’.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds “Red Right Hand” (Let Love In, 1994)
Motionless In White
Motionless In White have always been about the macabre, in a distinctly Gothic manner, and so this brooding and eerie tune would be an appropriate match. I think that the band should approach this cover in the same way that they write material with a more Marilyn Manson flavour- namely in regards to vocals and guitars. Chris Cerulli should adopt a deeper singing voice and maybe a few croaks and whispers like Manson himself to really match the creepy and unsettling atmosphere the song strives for. Guitar work should probably be kept very minimal until the crescendo towards the end of the song, but even then it shouldn’t really be the distorted riffs the band normally uses. Also keyboardist Josh Balz could update the sound effects sprinkled throughout the song and perhaps make them much more unsettling, rather than cheesy.
Fit For An Autopsy
Seeing as Fit For An Autopsy have been exploring more sinister sounds on their recent opus Absolute Hope, Absolute Hell, a song such as this one could work in their. Staccato guitar chugs would form the basis of the song, and dissonant chords and creeping leads would provide the embellishments that gives the song its character. Not to mention that it would be awesome for vocalist Joe Badolato to scream those iconic lines of “They’re whispering his name through this disappearing land/ But hidden in his coat is a red right hand” before a massive bass drop, where the guitars can let rip with a single, powerful chord. The band should also look to exploit the quiet-to-loud dynamic that is prevalent in the song, perhaps in a manner similar to when Metallica covered another cut from the same album: Loverman.
Pantera “This Love” (Vulgar Display Of Power, 1992)
Lamb Of God
The pairing of Lamb of God and Pantera always seemed an obvious one, especially as Lamb of God were regularly referred to as a ‘new Pantera’ towards the start of their career. Instead of opting for a more obvious and aggressive track from the Pantera vaults, I’ve opted for this slow burner of a tune that both crawls and slithers, as well as explodes and rages. Randy Blythe’s newfound ability to sing means that he is a more than able singer for the verses, although maybe a more spoken-word approach may be a better fit. I’m confident that guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler will also live up to the standards established by the late, great Dimebag Darrell- particularly on the breakdown at the end ( which has a feeling to it akin to LOG songs like, Now You’ve Got Something To Die For and Omerta).
Miss May I
Even though this song has some skull-crushingly heavy riffs, the foundation of this song has more in common with a ballad. Miss May I have proven that they can do more reflective material on singles such as Echoes from Rise Of The Lion, and I trust that they can carry out the sombre verses without being cringe-inducing. As long as singer and bassist Ryan Neff keeps his vocal performance a little more restrained then the band would be well set for a great cover. Frontman Levi Benton can also swing between his deeper growls, his higher screams and a spoken vocal to mimic the changing mood during the composition.
So what do you think? Do some of these match ups work? Or am I way off the mark? Feel free to like this post or leave a comment on what you think a particular band should cover. There are so many possibilities I could add further instalments to this post.