Oct 282021

Go back to the beginning

40. Snoop Dogg – Sad But True

Back when MTV still hadn’t gotten to the point of showing thirty-hour marathons of Ridiculousness, they had an annual special called MTV Icon, which celebrated the work of one artist. In 2003 they saluted Metallica, and bands like Staind, Korn, and Limp Bizkit paid tribute with covers. So did Snoop Dogg, and his take on “Sad But True” was the one people talked about the next day. Not all the talk was positive, not by any stretch, but his crossing genres was a gutsy move, and it’s a certainty that Snoop handled any rejection the way he would have handled any praise – by lighting one up and doing whatever he wanted to do next. – Patrick Robbins

39. Vika Yermolyeva – Battery

Classical music covers of Metallica are certainly nothing new; the band themselves capitalized on the concept with their S&M album. The song “Battery,” in particular, seems to be a great choice, with its crescendo intro and waves of sound. Pianist Vika Yermolyeva elevates her version above the others with powerful and emotive playing. The low-end notes envelop the listener while the high notes hammer out the melody and eventually a wicked sounding solo. There are times where the speed and power she plays with calls to mind an unhinged kind of boogie woogie. Yermolyeva does justice for all to this classic Metallica track. – Mike Misch

38. Bullet for My Valentine – Welcome Home (Sanitarium)

Spoiler alert: There are not a ton of metal bands on this list. Turns out, it’s hard to out-metal Metallica. But heavy Welsh band Bullet for My Valentine makes the cut by digging a little deeper than the greatest hits, covering a Master of Puppets song that doesn’t get covered much: “Welcome Home (Sanitarium).” They’ve got the chops to pull it off, and the twin guitar riffs are a thing of beauty. – Jane Callaway

37. Postmodern Jukebox – Nothing Else Matters

With over a billion YouTube views, “Nothing Else Matters” can safely be called Metallica’s most popular song. It’s certainly the most covered. The song’s popularity and power-ballad style pretty much guaranteed a visit from Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox. As always, what makes or breaks PMJ’s cover is the special guest vocalist, and in Caroline Baran, they found a real winner. Her control and her power are terrific; the fact that she was only fifteen years old when she recorded this is astonishing. – Patrick Robbins

36. Mrs. Smith – One

Mrs. Smith — the cat-loving, über-shredding alter ego of performer David Hanbury — has held audiences in her magnetic thrall for over a decade. Whether in her iconic debut on the streets of Provincetown or her wild solo shows in New York City clubs, Smith’s socialite glam belies her truly undeniable prowess with a guitar. (Her signature axe is, naturally, bedazzled with the likeness of her favorite lost cat, Carlyle.). Smith’s placement here on the Metallica list comes with a particularly notable precedent/endorsement: in 2019, she successfully ensnared Kirk Hammett into a Duel of the Wah-Wah Pedals, or a “Wah-Off.” Though that confrontation has yet to manifest in-person, Mrs. Smith has ridden the Metallica wave to this pièce de résistance: a blistering, massive (and massively bizarre) cover of “One.” Though Smith’s guitar work speaks for itself in terms of technical prowess, the visuals here are more than half the ride. Follow the dancing tabby as we sink (too) deep into the lore of the Smithverse, with “One” providing an unnerving soundtrack to a kidnapping saga in…Norway? From moments of insane finger-tapping-while-blindfolded to a truly epic finale before a bewitching phantom audience, Mrs. Smith uncovers the extreme pathos and campy glory that’s surging beneath the surface of Metallica’s catalog. She may be trapped and fighting it out in a dark cellar, but Mrs. Smith shreds for all of us. – Ben Easton

35. The Lemonheads – Fade to Black

By removing just about everything from Metallica’s power ballad, the Lemonheads, in this case a solo Evan Dando, manage a nuanced transformation. Acoustic guitar means the picking at the beginning retains the progtastic feel, but it is the Dando dark brown croon that is the real alchemy here, the words now audible and, however ludicrous, credible. – Seuras Og

34. Volbeat – Don’t Tread on Me

This is the first track here off Metallica’s recent The Metallica Blacklist tribute album. Fair warning: it won’t be the last. That’s what happens when you get a slew of huge names – 53 in all – to cover your best-selling album. Hell, the thing has 12 covers of “Nothing Else Matters” alone (and, small gripe, no how good they are, placing them all back-to-back makes for an exhausting listening experience). But the first song to appear here is of a deeper cut, and from a lesser-known band. Lars Ulrich’s fellow Danes, Volbeat bring a pop-metal energy to “Don’t Tread on Me,” turning it into a storming ’80s-style barnburner. – Ray Padgett

33. Art vs. Science – Enter Sandman

Did you think you would come across a synthy turned funky “Enter Sandman” on this list? This innovative take on arguably Metallica’s most mainstream song is a rollercoaster of sound. Art vs. Science ease in, using minimal keyboard and enigmatic vocals. Then they throw in a little voice changer action to transition out of the chorus, smoothing the way between the hinted synth and full-on funk. Even though it isn’t rock per se, there is still room for some belted vocals and a guitar solo before the end. – Sara Stoudt

32. Chase & Status ft. BackRoad Gee – Wherever I May Roam

UK dance duo Chase & Status get the top-line bulling, but the star of the show is grim MC BackRoad Gee, who raps James Hetfield’s lyrics. Several times I had to Google the original lyrics to make sure he hadn’t veered into his own rhymes, that’s how naturally he makes rapping metal lyrics sound. One of those “you’d never know this was a Metallica song” covers. – Ray Padgett

31. Nickelback – Sad But True

Everyone has that musical artist that they love to hate, but there is a special brand of hater that is the Nickelback hater. However, I’m asking you to hear me out. The heavy drama brought by the guitars and drums gets the crowd head banging, and when Chad Kroeger comes in, we’re a bit taken aback. His voice is transformed (this is no “look at this photograph”); it’s really deep, but controlled such that we can still understand what he is singing. There is a balance between the heaviness of the instrumentation and the almost chant of the vocals. Don’t just take my word for it; check out the universally surprised YouTube comments! – Sara Stoudt

The list continues on Page 3.

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