Anyone familiar with Rodrigo y Gabriela’s catalog can hear the influence of the acoustic duo’s roots in thrash metal bands, and not just because of the metal covers they have done over the years. The Mexican duo have covered Metallica frequently in their distinctive virtuosic style and they’ve returned to an early favorite with a studio version of “Battery”. It’s one of three metal songs, alongside Slayer and Megadeath, that will be included on their Record Store Day vinyl Mettal EP.
thtIn the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!
The Boston-based collective known as the Mighty Mighty Bosstones exploded in popularity in 1997, with the release of its fifth album Let’s Face It. Powered by the decade-defining classic “The Impression That I Get,” the band, with its raucous sound and slick-suit-wearing-punk style, captured a moment in time. This mainstream success came at an odd period in pop music history, at the tail end of the decline of grunge, but just before the global takeover of the Swedish-pop hegemon.
The commercial triumph of Let’s Face It led to the inevitable gripes from long-time fans, who grudgingly purchased the album while complaining that it was not as good as whatever early Bosstones’ record they had bought first. Ironically, the album was not actually a significant stylistic leap forward for the band; the pop-culture landscape had simply shifted.
Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” might be the closest thing the thrash-metal titans have to a soft-rock hit. The song was a shock to longtime fans upon its release on their self-titled 1991 album (aka The Black Album) because the arrangement included, gasp, strings. Written by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, “Nothing Else Matters” has become the band’s most covered track, according to secondhandsongs.com. The latest to tackle it is pop empress Miley Cyrus who sang a cover during her performance at the Glastonbury Festival on June 30.
Ashley O [Miley Cyrus] – Right Where I Belong (Nine Inch Nails cover)
The second-most-bonkers cover of the month (just wait ’til we get to “Spicy”) comes from – who else – Miley Cyrus. On a new episode of Black Mirror, she covers/parodies angsty Nine Inch Nails songs as the most insipid of pop jams. Trent Reznor, for one, says he is very much on board (given the lyric changes, these covers required his legal approval). Miley’s songs in character as Ashley O are outrageous and borderline offensive, which is kind of the point. “On a Roll” (FKA “Head Like a Hole”) has gotten most of the attention, but “Right Where I Belong” is more listenable. Marginally.
Watching the Swedish band Europe’s epic 1986 video for “The Final Countdown” is like going through a checklist of all the cliches of ‘80s hair metal. Perfectly styled hair (check); pretty-faced lead singer (check); massive double bass drum kit (check); revealing leather pants (hell yeah); pyrotechnics (check); guitarists swaying back and forth in perfect unison (check); young girls reaching out for the band (check), etc., etc. etc. Now for those of you old enough to actually remember the ‘80s, you’ll recall that Metallica was supposed to be the antidote for all of these excesses. Fist-pumping, kick-ass metal written to piss off your parents and teachers and give the proverbial middle finger to authority. God, it was beautiful.
On their new single, Danish trio Baby in Vain gives a nod to their countryman Lars Ulrich with an updated version of the Metallica concert staple “For Whom the Bell Tolls”.
It’s a tall order to improve the stiff-upper-lip head-bobbing classic Metallica pumped out on 1984’s Ride the Lightning. Any self-respecting rocker instantly knows the guitar riff that anchors the original. Even when your mom hears this infectious tune, she gets the metal snarl while sporting the devil horns as she weaves through the carpool line.