Oct 312023
Deer Tick – Dancing In The Dark (Bruce Springsteen cover)

“For me, ‘Dancing in the Dark’ isn’t a song about romance, but instead a desperate plea to break out of some degraded, stagnant situation. The narrator is filled with angst, self doubt, and the only way out is to the sheer force of unwavering will power,” says Deer Tick guitarist/vocalist Ian O’Neil. “Bruce really shows us who he is on this one and it looks an awful lot like the rest of us.”

Die Sauerkrauts Polka Band — Now That’s What I Call Polka! (Weird Al cover)

There are a lot of Weird Al covers out there (okay, maybe not a lot, but more than you might think). This is new though. This band didn’t cover one of Weird Al’s parodies. They didn’t even cover a Weird Al original, like “Dare to Be Stupid.” They covered one of his polka medleys (a subject I interviewed Al about in Cover Me the book—excerpt at The AV Club). Meaning, they covered polka versions of hits by Miley Cyrus, One Direction, Gotye, and many more, all in a brisk medley. A very silly music video brings it home. Continue reading »

Oct 262023
Imperial Triumphant

“Motorbreath” is one of the oldest Metallica songs, appearing on their third demo, back when Dave Mustaine was still in the band. It’s most well known for appearing on their debut album, Kill’em All and has become a thrash classic over the years. The song embodies so much of what made Metallica instantly iconic within the metal community, with its speed, edge and ferocity making an impression on so many listeners and musicians. (It’s in the Top 15 most covered Metallica songs ever despite not being widely known by the general public.)

Experimental black metal band Imperial Triumphant have become known for their heavy, idiosyncratic covers of jazz, prog and alternative rock songs. Now, they’ve turned their sights on a metal classic. The original “Motorbreath” is a straight-forward thrash banger, but, of course, in Imperial Triumphant’s hands, it’s very different. Continue reading »

Sep 152023
imperial triumphant jacobs ladder

The rarely covered Rush deep-cut “Jacob’s Ladder” is the climax from side one of Rush’s seventh album, 1980’s Permanent Waves. It’s the album where they began to, tentatively, incorporate other forms other popular music into their prog metal sound. “Jacob’s Ladder” combines these competing tendencies, with some of the heaviest music of their career to date with a synthesizer interlude that sounds like it could have been written by Vangelis.

It makes sense that metal bands would be drawn to the track and it’s repetitive pummel, and the first ever cover appears to have been by metal singer Sebastian Bach. American experimental metal band Imperial Triumphant have really been jumping on the cover wagon lately. Their latest is a predictably heavy cover of “Jacob’s Ladder.”

For the heavy parts, Imperial Triumphant play it pretty straight, albeit way more metal, though Geddy Lee’s wail is replaced by lead singer’s Zachary Ilya Ezrin’s deep growl. They keep the knotty prog lead and bass guitar parts and lean into the bolero aspect. (Though they can still pull off the swingier parts, too.)

It’s basically more metal Rush until we get to the synthesizer-heavy bridge. Imperial Triumphant doesn’t really do synthesizers, at least in the ’80s sense. They add them to the track when you’d expect, but then they drop away pretty quickly in favour of abstract guitar textures and sound effects. Exrin’s voice is slowed and possibly flipped and then there is a big buildup that gets increasingly loud and knotty until it returns to the climax of the song.

Jul 312023
imperial triumphant

New York’s avant-garde metal experimentalists Imperial Triumphant are on a tear with covers recently. Their newest effort is a nod to New York, on a song made famous by a musical style, Bebop, which partially evolved in the Big Apple: “A Night In Tunisia.” Continue reading »

Jul 032023
best cover songs of june 2023
Aaron Taos ft. Jordana — Under Control (The Strokes cover)

Aaron Taos says: “When Jordana and I met for the first time, we realized very quickly that we both shared an obsession with the Strokes. What’s more surprising is that we also share the same favorite Strokes song, “Under Control,” an album cut off of their second LP Room On Fire. Naturally, we decided that we had to cover this amazing tune. Reimagined as a minimalist duet, this slow burn produced by Blake Richardson (formerly artist Sage Baptiste) also comes with a lo-fi vid shot in Brooklyn, NY. We just want to make Julian Casablancas proud.” Continue reading »

Jun 192023
imperial triumphant paranoid android cover

The six and a half minute mini-suite “Paranoid Android,” the lead-off single from Radiohead‘s legendary OK Computer, remains one of their most covered songs, despite, or perhaps because of, its complexity. Full of dynamic swings in volume and tempo, it’s probably a lot of fun to play once you’ve mastered it.

American experimental black metal band Imperial Triumphant are a lot less interested in the fun dynamics of “Paranoid Android” than your average Radiohead cover artists. Bands in black metal and its associate subgenres can sometimes flatten dynamics and opt instead of more subtle gradations of loud and louder. But Imperial Triumphant aren’t your average black metal band, so the dynamics you expect are still there, just different. (But are also sometimes labelled as dissonant death metal and, um, “avant garde jazz,” so you’ve been warned.) Continue reading »