“Salvation” was the lead single from The Cranberries’ third album, To the Faithful Departed. And, at least by chart position, it’s one of their biggest ever hits, topping the US alternative rock chart and somehow beating out “Dreams,” “Linger” and “Zombie” on the UK charts. (Of those songs, only “Zombie” topped the US alternative rock chart as well.) But it’s not as well known now, with way fewer streams and relatively few covers.
Some of that is due to initial sales of the single and the relative lack of popularity of their third album compared to their second. But some of it might also have to do with “Salvation” being one of The Cranberries’ punkiest songs. Usually known more for dream rock and, alternately, a heavier style somewhat akin to American grunge, “Salvation” has more of a pop punk vibe, with the horns at the end hinting at ska. (Albeit pop punk and ska filtered through lead singer Dolores O’Riordan’s distinctive Irish voice.)
No surprise, then, that a Philly hardcore punk band would cover this song, among all Cranberries songs. Sunstroke are a hardcore punk band from the Philadelphia area that credit DC’s “Revolution Summer” as one of their main influences. (In the summer of 1985, a group of Washington-area punk bands tried to reinvigorate the DC hardcore scene and some of them went on to be influential in the punk world.)
Sunstroke basically just make “Salvation” a melodic hardcore song, with shouted vocals, distorted guitars, overloaded bass. In the chorus there’s a clean melodic guitar line, as you would expect, and Food Ellis of DC ska band Kill Lincoln joins on saxophone to ape the horns of the original.
It’s one of those covers that seems obvious but it wasn’t obvious until someone did it. And that’s what Sunstroke did. They found the hidden melodic hardcore song in The Cranberries discography.