Few genres go as hard as heavy metal when covering songs from other artists. Many iconic songs find a new lease of life with some added distortion, a face-melting riff, or a darker tone.
That’s the case with Ghost’s cover of Genesis’ “Jesus He Knows Me” from their new EP Phantomime. With the EP consisting entirely of covers, including ones of Iron Maiden and Tina Turner, the Swedish metal band looks to bring a unique sound and flair to some classic tracks.
To celebrate the release of Phantomime, we’ve compiled a list of other iconic metal covers. So, whether you’re looking to re-experience a familiar favorite or discover an entirely new take on a classic, we’ve got you covered.
“Jesus He Knows Me”— Ghost
(original by Genesis)
Kicking things off is our new favorite metal cover. Genesis’ original 1992 release was a gritty parody of televangelists, but Ghost’s cover takes that to the extreme. It fits perfectly with both their tongue-in-cheek approach to religion and vocalist Tobias Forge’s larger-than-life stage persona, Papa Emeritus IV. This isn’t the first time Ghost has covered a song with religious undertones either. Their version of Eurythmics’ “Missionary Man” appeared on the deluxe version of their third album, Meliora.
To hear the hottest new metal tracks, be sure to tune in to Octane (Ch. 37).
“The Sound Of Silence” — Disturbed
(original by Simon & Garfunkel)
Not all metal covers have to be hardcore riff-fests. Sometimes they can just continue the legacy of the original. That’s the case with Disturbed’s cover of the Simon & Garfunkel classic “The Sound of Silence.” Released nearly 50 years after the original, Disturbed pivoted toward symphonic metal for this cover, winning praise from fans and critics alike. It reached number one on Billboard’s Hard Rock Digital Songs and received approval from Paul Simon himself. He described the band’s live performance of the song on Conan as “really powerful.” It’s hard to disagree.
For a throwback to classic Disturbed, as well as more hard rock from the ’90s and 2000s, SiriusXM Turbo (Ch. 41) is the place to be!
“The Chain” — Evanescence
(original by Fleetwood Mac)
Speaking of symphonic metal. Evanescence’s powerful cover of Fleetwood Mac’s iconic number “The Chain” is another example of a metal cover paying great homage to the original. Covered for the soundtrack of the video game Gears 5, the song became a breakout hit. It proved hugely popular with Evanescence fans and reached number nine on Billboard’s Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart. With Amy Lee’s harmonic vocals accompanied by the rest of the band and an orchestra, this cover makes for something truly epic.
If Evanescence makes you hungry for some emotionally driven alt-rock, be sure to check out The Emo Project (Ch. 713).
“The Ghost of Tom Joad” — Rage Against the Machine
(original by Bruce Springsteen)
Recorded as part of their covers album Renegades, Rage Against the Machine’s version of Bruce Springsteen’s folk-rock number is technically a cover of a cover. Springsteen was inspired by Woody Guthrie’s “The Ballad of Tom Joad,” itself based on John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath. One thing evident across all versions is the sense of social activism. But where Springsteen’s song is quiet and reflective, Rage Against the Machine’s cover is filled with… well, rage. It’s unsurprising considering the band’s backlog. Zack de la Rocha’s rap-rock vocals sound like an impassioned speech, with the band following a more stripped-back rhythm to accompany the protest. There’s even been a crossover between the two covers, with guitarist Tom Morello joining Springsteen to perform the song at the 25th Anniversary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concert in 2009.
Need more ’90s alternative rock in your life? Listen to Lithium (Ch. 34).
“Turn the Page” — Metallica
(original by Bob Seger)
In terms of having a metal cover be the same but different, few do it as well as Metallica. Released back in 1998, their version of Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page” keeps a similar tempo but makes it way heavier. Sub out the saxophone for Kirk Hammett’s sliding guitar sounds and you’ve got a classic. It’s an amazing cover and is responsible for the longest time Metallica spent at the top of the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock charts — a feat only matched by their recent release “Lux Aeterna.”
Tune in to Mandatory Metallica (Ch. 105) to get your fix of Metallica, along with other artists handpicked by the band themselves.
“SOS” — Fozzy
(original by ABBA)
Of course, there are covers that are respectful homages and then there are covers that are just fun. Somehow, Fozzy’s metal cover of this iconic ABBA track is the best of both worlds. The initial keyboard at the start, alongside Chris Jericho’s vocals, feels like an immediate throwback. That’s right up until the rest of the band interrupts for the chorus and the tone shifts completely. It’s not the only song that Jericho has reworked spectacularly either. The wrestler-come-singer formed a KISS cover band during the COVID-19 pandemic and recorded covers of “No No No,” “Heart of Chrome,” and many more.
Take a break from the music and hear more from Chris Jericho and all things combat sports on SiriusXM Fight Nation (Ch. 156).
“Heaven Is a Place on Earth” — Elvenking
(original by Belinda Carlisle)
Another metal cover that’s as delightful as it is hardcore. Italian metal band Elvenking recorded this version of Belinda Carlisle’s pop classic for their fifth album, Two Tragedy Poets (… and a Caravan of Weird Figures). Most of the album’s songs are acoustic, which makes the presence of this powerful metal rendition even stranger. Sure, it’s cheesy, but it’s still a bop. And putting it in the middle of any playlist is also a great way to really confuse your friends.
For the heaviest of heavy metal, check out Liquid Metal (Ch. 40).
“These Boots” — Megadeth
(original by Nancy Sinatra)
Less a cover and more a parody, Megadeth’s thrash metal version of Nancy Sinatra’s hit song “These Boots Are Made for Walkin'” is evidence of how some covers aren’t always well-received. Singer and guitarist Dave Mustaine altered the lyrics when the song appeared on the band’s debut album Killing Is My Business… and Business Is Good! Despite receiving royalties, the song’s original writer Lee Hazlewood demanded the cover be omitted from future releases, calling it a “perversion of the original.” This led to a censored version being recorded for the album’s 2002 remix and then another, recorded with Hazlewood’s original lyrics, being added to the 2018 remaster. Despite the controversy, it remains an awesome version, highlighting how different a metal cover can be!
Listen to more Megadeth and other metal favorites, all curated by Ozzy Osbourne, on Ozzy’s Boneyard (Ch. 38).
Tags:disturbedelvenkingevanescencefozzyghosthard rock/metalmegadethmetallicaoctanerage against the machine
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