The most disappointing thing about Disturbed’s cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Sound of Silence‘ is that singer David Draiman didn’t find the opportunity to insert an “Oo-wa-ah-ah-ah” into the metal band’s cover of the folk classic. If they did, you could truly say that Disturbed had made the song their own.
With the disappointment of “what could have been” in mind, we’ve gone and found 12 heavy covers of slow songs that ace it. Perhaps heavy music and non-heavy music ain’t so different, after all…
1. Devildriver, ‘Sail’ (Awolnation)
Devildriver‘s cover of this indie rock sleeper hit gets every note right, and is a great example of purely metallising (to be honest, that’s all Devildriver knows) an otherwise non-metal song, with screams, power chords and double-kicks thrown in at all the right times. Awolnation, the original band, likes the cover and so you should too.
2. Rammstein, ‘Stripped’ (Depeche Mode)
Synthpop, despite being, err, pop, has made a massive impact on bands in and around the industrial metal scene. Here, for example, is Rammstein‘s rockified cover of the slow-burning, half-ambient Depeche Mode favourite. Whether you like the song itself or not, this is pretty much as close as you can get to the ideal cover: taking a song from another genre, and recreating it completely in your own image. And, as Rammstein have made their career pretending to be stereotypical Germans (expressionless performances, industrial stage designs, flamethrowers, marching songs, singing about sex, etc) why not use this opportunity to set this song to Leni Riefenstahl’s Nazi propaganda films?
3. Dillinger Escape Plan, ‘Angel’ (Massive Attack)
Massive Attack were darlings of the 90s trip-hop scene who helped push house music into an art form worthy of museums. It would make sense that the lads from DEP, always ones to push the envelope and watch it bend, would be enamored with the scene and want to have a crack at it. Taking away the original from its polished electronica to the raw rasp of the rock studio, DEP show us what their metal minds are hearing when they listen to this song.
4. Deftones, ‘No Ordinary Love’ (Sade)
Deftones are a really weird band. They’ve been around for ages, they’ve covered almost every genre since then, and even their lead guitarist has admitted he spends more time listening to hip hop than metal. So it makes sense, in the incomprehensible genius sort of way, that they’d choose to cover an R&B classic – and nail it.
5. Almost any cover by Faith No More
Faith No More are the king and queen of tribute acts – despite not being a tribute act themselves. Almost every performance of theirs includes a cover, often seamlessly woven into one of their own songs. Take, for instance, ‘Midlife Crisis’; they always stop the song in the bridge to fill it in with a cover, like a real life plunderphonics band. Even on their reunion tour, they opened their set with a cover of Peaches & Herb‘s ‘Reunited‘.
Any of their covers, really, could suffice, but it’s hard to go past their cover of Lady Gaga‘s ‘Poker Face’. It may be short, and used as an intro to their song ‘Chinese Arithmetic’, but Mike Patton’s belting rendition, including the fake scratching, is just too good.
6. Chaos Divine, ‘Africa’ (Toto)
It’s strange that a band with the same name as the dog from the Wizard of Oz could be so bitchin’, but that’s what 80s superstars Toto were. ‘Africa’ was one of their biggest success stories (along with ‘Hold the Line’ and ‘Rosanna’), and this cover by Perth-based progressive metal band Chaos Divine is Toto guitarist Steve Lukather’s favourite. The pounding and rasping of the percussion and the testicle-popping power metal vocals are the real highlights of this track, giving this old pop rock track a well-deserved punch of metal.
7. The Drones, ‘River of Tears’ (Kev Carmody)
The original rendition of this song is actually faster than The Drones‘ cover, but The Drones certainly did turn the dial up to eleven when they had a crack at recording it. While Ken Carmody seems to want to rush through this account of the sobering collision between the Aboriginal and White Australians, Melbourne-based alt-rockers instead turn it the song on its head, pushing it out to five minutes and honing in on the grit. The result is a song that will break through to your bones like a Brett Lee yorker breaks through a wicket.
8. Metallica, ‘Turn The Page’ (Bob Seger)
If you can get past the “Hey hey hey, yeah, Are you alive???” yarping growl of James Hetfield that dominated Metallica in the 90s during their alternative rock rebrand, this cover of soft rocker Bob Seger‘s ballad about being a travelling muso is actually quite enjoyable. This song actually displays what contributed to Metallica being such a great band themselves, as they are able to clearly re-visualise Seger’s original tune very much in their own sound.
9. Guns N Roses, ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’ (Bob Dylan)
Axl Rose & his top hat wearing pals veered right out of their comfort zone with this cover of one of Bob Dylan‘s best songs. The telephone call included in the middle of the song is a real treat, while hearing Rose’s singing of “hey, hey, hey hey hey” in that half-operatic, half-bogan tone of his is never not welcomed.
10. Machine Head, ‘Message In A Bottle’ (The Police)
This cover was released around the time of Machine Head‘s third album, The Burning Red, when Machine Head started to really fall into the nu-metal abyss. However, this cover of one of The Police‘s signature songs – pity it wasn’t ‘Walking on the Moon‘, that is undeniably the chillest song ever made – has no traces of nu-metal, and is just the sort of straight up thrash metal rage that made Machine Head good in the first place.
11. Ghost, ‘Here Comes The Sun’ (The Beatles)
Behind all the facepaint and the masks, and the cringe of turning up to the Grammys in said facepaint and masks, Ghost are actually a pretty decent band. What’s more, is that they have some self-awareness of how silly the whole thing is and are actually willing to explore new things (they’ve covered ABBA, for instance) and have a joke on themselves in covering Roky Erickson‘s ‘If You Have Ghosts’. Their cover of ‘Here Comes The Sun’ by The Beatles has a nice spin here, turning into a tongue-in-cheek tune about light entering their ghostly world.
12. Limp Bizkit, ‘Faith’ (George Michael)
The original is pretty upbeat itself, but Fred Durst & co really turn the metal screw on this one, amping up the chords, increasing the screaming and, because of nu-metal reasons, adding some unneeded and ugly turntable scratching. But, in doing so, they actually do a pretty good job of ripping this song entirely out of George Michael‘s imagination.