The Blacklist, the epic, 53-artist tribute to Metallica’s self-titled “Black Album” coming out September 10, is producing a lot of Metallica covers. But most of those we’ve featured were of the hits. IDLES, the British punk band, decided to take on a less famous track, “The God That Failed.”
The original is pummeling, plodding track that is somewhere between Metallica’s thrash sound and doom metal. (though it’s too fast for doom). IDLES up the energy an absolute ton. The track opens with screeching feedback and drum fills, not exactly what we’re expecting. Everything but drum and bass drop away to start, and then angular guitar comes in, everything notably faster than the original. Lead singer Joe Talbot finally comes in at about a minute and sounds like he’s channeling Mark E. Smith.
And that Fall energy isn’t dispelled when the chorus comes in. The approach of the rest of the band is a little artier, perhaps, than the Fall, but there is still an undeniable vibe of “The Fall does Metallica.” Well, until the guitar solos, which don’t compete with Kirk Hammett’s original but also don’t embrace the purposefully simplistic sound of the band that appears to be the chief inspiration for this take.
IDLES version of “The God that Failed” is virtually unrecognizable. But, in this case, it works as the biting, bitter lyrics of the song, with hints of social comment, feel tailor-made for a sound reminiscent of one of the most lyrically interesting British post punk bands.