I never listened to Metallica until Bonnaroo last year. I was among those most furious that they were on the lineup (as you can see here), and I made sure not to see their show. I could hear it from my campsite though, and ended up spending two hours lying in my tent listening to the music. This may not be the classic viewpoint, but to me these songs are just fun. Every time I listen to Master of Puppets a huge grin spreads across my face. I don’t know if I’m missing something or not, but what I do know is that these tunes make for great covers, particularly of the out-of-genre instrumental variety.
Lots of interesting stuff didn’t make it here, so if you want to jig check out the Celtic Tribute to Metallica or, when December rolls around, how about And Christmas for All! A Holiday Tribute to Metallica, featuring a very disgruntled looking Santa on the cover. Then drift off to sleep with Rockabye Baby! Lullaby Renditions of Metallica. Each is shockingly good; I’ve loved listening to as many strange versions of “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” as I can find. Hope you like listening too.
Van Canto – Battery
A German a cappella metal group? Where do I sign up? All these five singers need is someone holding down the drums; every other sound from that furious guitar line to the bass progressions is voices. Absurdly good voices. Watch the video here to see for yourself. [Buy]
Harptallica – Master of Puppets
Harptallica sounds like a gimmick, and of course it is. A harpist duo performing mini-concertos of everything from “Fade to Black” to “Enter Sandman.” The thing is though, the melodies in the songs are strong enough that it works, producing a very soothing result. Just don’t expect any “Master! Master!” shout-alongs. [Buy]
Primus – The Thing That Should Not Be
Frontman Les Claypool auditioned to take over bass duties for Metallica after Cliff Burton’s tragic death, but it didn’t go so well. Lars responded to his suggestion that the crew jam on some Isley Brothers tunes by asking incredulously if he knew what kind of music they played. James Hetfield later said they turned him down because “he was too good.” [Buy]
Scott Davis – Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
I’ve posted Davis’ solo piano covers before, but they never disappoint. Listening to them, I always begin each tune amused by the novelty of the familiar tunes arranged on the keys. However, I’m quickly so drawn in to his masterful playing I forget that these are covers at all. He did a whole Metallica tribute album well worth getting. [Buy]
Adam Selzer – Disposable Heroes
A little backwoods folk from Selzer, a violin underscores his joyful singing. It’s off a full Metallica covers EP he released years ago. The fact that it sounds like it was recorded in his living room is part of the charm. [Buy]
The Scorched Earth Orchestra – Leper Messiah
I can’t find any information on this metal tribute act, but they’ve released three records, tributes to Metallica (Masters itself in fact), Slipknot, and Cradle of Filth. They’re so unknown that the About the Artist description on Amazon is about Metallica themselves. However, that same page features four reviews, all of them five stars, all lengthy and written with passion. If people actually putting thought into an amazon review doesn’t tell you something, I don’t know what does. [Buy]
Rodrigo y Gabriela – Orion
Rodrigo y Gabriela is a guitar duo without parallel, playing mostly original material of flamenco-tinged guitar influenced by Megadeath and Slayer. So a Metallica cover, of an instrumental no less, was perhaps not a surprise. What you may not expect is how truly phenomenal it is. [Buy]
Razed in Black – Damage Inc.
When I saw a cover by a group called “Razed in Black,” I thought “Oh God, tribute band.” Metallica released The Black Album once upon a time you see, and razing seems like one of those things they’d sing about. I’m glad I looked deeper, to discover that Razed is a gothic electronic act that has been featured in shows on NBC and the WB. They hop on board plenty of tribute discs, but this one comes from a mostly original album. It starts off sounding somewhat like the original but give it, oh, twenty seconds. It’s different. [Buy]