Cover songs can be really hit-or-miss in the metal scene. On one hand, you may simply be getting a re-styling of the original song in metal, which is fun, though many complain that metal covers generally aren’t all that special or don’t push the limits. Then you have some bands who take the song and do something so wild to it that you almost don’t know it’s a cover. Today, we’re looking at 25 cover songs, new and old, that show a really unique take on the original!
TURISAS – “Rasputin” (originally by BONEY M)
Of course we’re starting here! Back in about 2007 or so, I saw that DRAGONFORCE was coming to play in Calgary, Alberta, where I used to live. I said I’d only drop the money on them if they had a good opener. When I searched TURISAS online, this is what I found – one of the most brilliantly-executed covers of a disco song that I’ve ever heard, let alone by a metal band. The band immediately proved that they’ve got a sense of humor, as well as a great deal of undeniable style and flare.
BLIND GUARDIAN – “Barbara Ann” and “Surfin’ USA” (originally by THE BEACH BOYS)
If I say that my dad likes a heavy cover of an original song that he likes, it has to be good. I was listening to “The Forgotten Tales” long ago while my dad was reading in the same room and he asked me, suddenly, if they had covered “Fun, Fun, Fun” as well. Coming from the stoic type and having heard those fingers tapping, it goes without saying that if that a man in his 60s (at the time) who grew up listening to THE BEACH BOYS likes the covers, they’re good covers.
NOORA LOUHIMO EXPERIENCE – “Piece of My Heart” (written by Erma Franklin, performed by Janis Joplin)
If you can dream it, you can do it, and this song is proof of that. Noora Louhimo said in her live streamed album release show that she loved Janis Joplin, her presence, her voice, the works, and wanted to be like her. Well, she fucking did it! This woman has busted through a lot of obstacles to pursue her dream and keeps showing how badass and cool she is along the way. This cover spectacularly displays the voice and presence that Louhimo has become known for. After all, it was because of this song that BATTLE BEAST found her in the first place, wasn’t it?
Doug Katsaros ft. Devin Townsend – “New York, New York” (originally by Frank Sinatra)
If you want something done uniquely, get Devin Townsend to do it. Not an easy task, actually, and when I asked him about this cover, he said that if he was asked now, he probably wouldn’t do such a thing again. That only makes me all the more grateful that someone convinced him to participate in this little masterpiece at some point. This is both a great heavy adaptation but also shows a lot of Townsend‘s personal flare, especially considering the Ziltoid-y line, “to find I’m king of the hill / talk of the walk / infinite overlord of all space and time!”
METAL DE FACTO – “Ginga Densetsu Weed” (originally by DOHATSUTEN)
I know I’ve already talked about this, but great things deserve a lot of talk, no? The great thing about this song is its sheer earworm-y catchiness combined with sick guitars and a Finnish guy belting out Japanese like it’s nothing. Of all the covers released on the “Legionnaire’s Oath” EP, this one stood out the most because of the sheer nerdy love for the original that is clearly shown.
BLAME ME – “All the Things She Said” (originally by TATU)
I had genuinely forgotten this song existed until this cover popped up in my recommendations. There is an argument towards sacrilege in this cover, that a song usually sung by two women is sung by a single voice. However, the execution of the cover is very strong, regardless of who is singing, and the song nicely captures the feel of the original, in sound if not in dual-voices.
APOCALYPTICA – “Until it Sleeps” (originally by METALLICA)
How does one pick between all the great METALLICA covers that APOCALYPTICA have done? It is, indeed, a daunting task, yet their version of “Until it Sleeps” is so fabulously beautiful that it had to be the winner. They took the heavy metal baseline that METALLICA created and tuned it up with beautiful strings and a more symphonic sound. Truly, this is a masterpiece of a cover.
Ville Valo & Natalia Avalon – “Summer Wine” (originally by Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood)
I’m not a huge HIM or Ville Valo fan, but there is no denying that the man does have a majestic voice. The depth and beauty of that voice shines through in this cover where he is backed up by Natalia Avalon‘s gentle seductive sound. The original song is great but they modernized it nicely and turned the beauty up a few notches. There’s also a very James Bond music -vibe to some of the strings in this version as well that really suits the song and makes me wish there was a 007 Summer Wine movie that this could be the theme song for. Even those classic lyrics feel a bit Bond-like.
VAN CANTO – “Kings of Metal” (originally by MANOWAR)
I fully confess that this was my ringtone for several years, because I thought it was hilarious that anytime someone called my, my phone would start shouting, “rima-nima-nima-nima-nima-nima-nima-nima-nima-ooooooh MANOWAAAR” whenever it rang. Actually, I still think it’s hilarious. For an acapella band, VAN CANTO are surprisingly good, but there’s always a sheer level of silliness to them that I can never quite overcome. Fortunately, in this song, there was already a layer of silliness to… well, everything MANOWAR has ever written, so they manage to sync up nicely to create a really fabulous cover. The only thing that bothers me is the absence of Inga Scharf in sound, seeing as how she’s quite prominent in the video.
Jorn Lande – “I Walk Alone” (originally by Tarja Turunen)
Even though I personally feel that NIGHTWISH made the right choice back in 2005, I can’t deny what a powerful response song “I Walk Alone” was from Tarja Turunen. Unfortunately, it may still be the best song she’s ever done in her solo career. When legendary Norwegian vocalist Jorn Lande covered it, I wasn’t sure how his power would match up to Turunen‘s operatic style. Turns out it’s perfect. While the original is great, there’s an extra amp-up of power in this iteration that shoots the listener right through the roof.
Bruce Dickinson & DREAM THEATER – “Perfect Strangers” (originally by DEEP PURPLE)
If you know much about Bruce Dickinson, then you might know that Ian Gillan of DEEP PURPLE was one of his biggest inspirations as a vocalist. It then very much goes without saying that this cover is utterly earth-shattering. Not only are we seeing a pure, perfect homage to Dickinson‘s hero, it’s executed to its level of perfection thanks to accompaniment by none other than DREAM THEATER. Yes, that’s right, if you ever wanted to hear what Bruce Dickinson would sound like with DT, here you have it. Also, if you just want to hear parallels between Bruce Dickinson and Ian Gillan, this is the song to compare!
ENSIFERUM – “Bamboleo” (originally by the GIPSY KINGS)
Songs like this are proof to me that ENSIFERUM is a band that loves what they are doing and don’t take themselves too seriously. More proof of that is the band putting on giant sombreros and having a blast with it live. There’s a degree of nonsense in a lot of ENSKA‘s covers, which is clearly shown here. It’s nigh impossible to hear a cover like this and keep a straight face.
EVERFROST – “Die Young” (originally by Kesha)
If there’s one thing that EVERFROST did with their cover of Kesha that no one else did, it was fit it into their concept album. Yes, that’s right! While most bands tack their cover on the end of the album as a bonus track, EVERFROST took a song that worked with their concept and made it their own. And boy did they ever! In fact, back when “Winterider“ was released in 2019, the song won Musicalypse’s best cover of the year in our staff voting!
KORN – “Word Up” (originally by CAMEO)
Looking into this track, I realized that this song actually came out the same year I was born! I must say that the original song was a big hit back in the day but nowadays I find it pretty annoying. However, due to Jonathan Davis‘ rather unusual voice (which can be annoying in its own way at times), this cover really, really works. Steer into the skid, right? KORN really nailed it with this one.
LACUNA COIL – “Enjoy the Silence” (originally by DEPECHE MODE)
This one goes without saying. This cover is arguably LC‘s most well-known song, a live staple, and the band’s ultimate “live karaoke singalong” song. For good reason too! While the original DEPECHE MODE is a moody track, LACUNA COIL tuned it up, added some new engines and tires, and unleashed this beast onto the musical roads, only to nearly surpass a lot of the band’s own material. Then again, if you’re going to do something, do it well, right?
EDGUY – “Rock Me Amadeus” (originally by FALCO)
Speaking of annoying songs, truly, no one in the world could pull off such as annoying a song as “Rock Me, Amadeus” but Tobias Sammet, who is possibly the most ridiculous, over-the-top musical mastermind there is to be found in heavy metal. He hams up the vocals to the absolute max in this song and it is only through his sheer charisma and ridiculousness, combined with that pure skill, that makes this work. This should be extremely annoying, but instead, it’s hilarious and amazing because it’s so impossible to take seriously.
SONATA ARCTICA – “Die with Your Boots On” (originally by IRON MAIDEN)
Though many have tried, not just anyone can pull off an IRON MAIDEN cover, let alone do it with style and flare. SONATA ARCTICA is one of those bands that has more or less hit it out of the park with every cover they’ve done (their versions of “Fade to Black” by METALLICA and “I Want Out” by HELLOWEEN are also pretty stellar), but this one is on another level. For those who have never quite gotten behind Bruce Dickinson‘s voice, Tony Kakko is a nice alternative and this is a very solid cover. Also, a great choice for an IRON MAIDEN song too! Props for not going for the obvious tracks.
SHIRAZ LANE – “To the Moon and Back” (originally by SAVAGE GARDEN)
I think we were all a little blown away by how good this cover was when it came out. I had pretty genuinely forgotten that SAVAGE GARDEN had existed – their popularity was back when I was very young, so it was a bit surprising to me that these young guys even knew the song – maybe it got to Finland a bit later than North America. Their special brand of hard rock adds a lot of strength and meaning to this otherwise kind of cheesy pop song.
MEMOREMAINS – “I Turn to You” (originally by Melanie C.)
Another newer one to appear this year, I admittedly wasn’t very familiar with the original. It was my partner who was excited to hear a new take on the song and found himself quite pleased with it. The band’s electro-symphonic sound really works well with the track and adds some more power and flare to what was kind of a basic pop song before MEMOREMAINS got their hands on it.
IN THIS MOMENT – “Call Me” (originally by BLONDIE)
I personally have a mix relationship with this band and their covers. Their efforts to get creative with QUEEN songs on their latest release fell flat for me (like IRON MAIDEN, QUEEN is not a band just anyone can cover). However, I’ve always liked the idea of this BLONDIE song better than its execution, so Maria Brink‘s metalcore voice actually brings this song to life for someone who wasn’t really into the original.
NORTHERN KINGS – “A View to a Kill” (originally by DURAN DURAN)
If the vocal supergroup NORTHERN KINGS – which featured Marko Hietala, Tony Kakko, J-P Leppaluoto, and Jarkko Ahola – ever knocked a song out of the park, it was this James Bond theme, “A View to a Kill.” The extra oomph in the “Dance! into the fire!” part really brings this song to life, not to mention the power of the combined legendary vocalists. If you enjoy one song by this band, let it be this one!
MR. BIG – “Wild World” (originally by Cat Stevens)
For the longest time, I thought this song was about a father-daughter relationship (at least, it always felt like a song my dad could have written for me when I moved to Finland), where in reality it is about a break-up. While Cat Stevens (aka Yusuf Islam) is a pretty strange character, MR. BIG takes this arguably condescending song and adds a lot of sensitivity, as well as a base of rock ‘n’ roll, to bring it to life and help this song come across as a bit gentler than the original.
CHILDREN OF BODOM – “Rebel Yell” (originally by Billy Idol)
The late, great Alexi Laiho was known for being in one of Finland’s biggest metal bands ever, and CHILDRENOF BODOM were known for their creative selection of cover songs, including their famed version of Britney Spears‘ “Oops I Did it Again.” Although it’s one of their best, we’re sharing the rendition of “Rebel Yell” now, simply because it shows off that Laiho could do more than just growl, ven if it was his vocal styling of choice. This cover is not only a fabulous iteration of the original, but shows a side of BODOM that we didn’t usually get to experience.
SIGN – “Run to the Hills” (originally by IRON MAIDEN)
I saved this for last for a reason. As I already mentioned, few people can pull off what IRON MAIDEN do, so why bother trying to mimic something you can’t execute? SIGN certainly didn’t worry about sounding like MAIDEN when they did their cover of “Run to the Hills” way back in the 2000s. Who is this band and what have become of them? I have no idea, but their rendition of this song is one of the most unusual takes on an original I’ve ever heard… and that says something!