Angry Metal LisaI have previously said that certain bands do shit that is really metal even though they’re not playing metal. Anathema‘s last record is a great example of that. So what is it? Well, sometimes it’s the driving rhythm (see: ’80s pop) that happens to be Iron Maiden‘s famous gallop. Sometimes it’s the epic nature of the songs or the doomy depths. Here’s five such tracks that appeal to me because they’re fucking metal, even though they don’t know it.

#ish: “The Meek Shall Inherit” – Little Shop of Horrors (Original Soundtrack) — OK. This is probably the least metal of the tracks I’m putting up here, but I’ve always thought that the section at 0:52 was remarkably metal. I love the lyrics, too, and the performance is great. What would make that metal? Well, give me a couple distorted guitars and some heavier drums and you’d be on the right track. Super intense. Actually, this whole musical is fucking genius if you’re into that sort of thing. I suppose you’re too metal for that. Anyway, the section from 0:52 is metal as shit. “My future’s starting / I’ve got to let it…” I love it. The section at 1:30 is particularly ripe for the picking.

#5: “My Medea” – Warm Strangers (Vienna Teng) — This song is seriously epic and dark. That peak in the middle is amazing and done by the right kind of dark metal band, and you could really feel this one. The lyrics here are also really quite brutal, as well. Suggested band: The 11th Hour. Needs good vocals and a downtuned 7 string.

#4: “Casey’s Last Ride” – Kris Kristofferson (Kris Kristofferson) — This song is dying to be covered by a great doom band. There’s something just soul crushing about this song that only the most brutal of funeral doom bands could pull off—only by a drunken southerner who loved Jesus almost as much as he loved whiskey. A really brilliant track that I have returned to a million times in my life.

#3: “It’s a Sin” – Actually (Pet Shop Boys) — This song has actually already received a metal cover courtesy of Graveworm, but it still pops into my mind whenever I think about the best non-metal metal songs. Everything about this song is great and I just love it, but the thing about it is that it’s got that ’80s metal gallop. That synth kids and metal kids ever fought—everyone in the ’80s loved the gallop! A great track1

#2: “Scoundrel Days” – Scoundrel Days (A-ha) — Norway’s a-ha has gone down in history because they had this song you’ve probably heard at every single ’80s night ever. It had a really trendy video that was super hip for its time and everyone loved it. But here’s another thing they had: one of the sneakiest not-metal metal songs ever. The title track from the band’s second album Scoundrel Days. This is definitely a power metal band that should do this. Someone with a range who doesn’t sound like a douchebag (i.e., not Jorn).

#1: “Paris Is Burning” – Marry Me (St. Vincent) — While I’m not a big fan of St. Vincent generally speaking—her forays into ’70s prog have been cool, but it never has really stuck with me. This track, “Paris Is Burning,” is one of the most metal non-metal tracks I’ve ever heard. The guitar part at 0:42 is straight up Iron Maiden/Gothenburg thrash and the chorus is tough as shit if done correctly. The ending could be turned into something awesome, as well. This track could be done by any variety of power metal, death metal or even black metal bands. I think a Dimmu Borgiresque treatment might actually be really cool. If I ever were to cover a non-metal song it would be “Paris Is Burning” for absolutely sure. This is pure brilliance.

Show 1 footnote

  1. Pointing out that it’s at least partially about being gay doesn’t make it any less metal unless you’re going to question both Rob Halford and Gaahl’s metal cred. I’m pretty sure the latter will tie you to a chair and torture you for days if you do that.
  • Madam__X

    I love Graveworm’s version of It’s a Sin!! Their cover of REM’s Loosing My Religion is also brilliant… another song that should absolutely have been metal in my opinion :)

    • Both Gamma Ray and To Die For covered Its a Sin as well.

      • Madam__X

        I must look for them, thanks for the tip :)

      • It’s a popular one.

      • Madam__X

        Wow, both good and completely different to each other.

      • brutal_sushi

        I loved Gamma Rays cover

    • Ernesto Aimar

      Graveworm’s version of Loosing my Religion it’s totally brilliant. Another hell of a cover is Cradle of Filth version of Shakespeare’s sisters “Stay”, which was almost the best song of the forgettable “Thornography” times. The original version of this song was craving for metal

  • Mike Eckman

    My vote for best “non metal” metal song, is “Ghost Riders in the Sky”, specifically the version by The Outlaws. This song is pretty much already metal as it is, it has Maiden-esque galloping guitars, awesome solos, lyrics that would make Manowar proud such as “Their brands were still on fire and their hooves were made of steel, Their horns were black and shiny and their hot breath he could feel “. This song could easily sped up and turned into a Exodus-worthy thrash fest, or tuned down into a Bloodbath worthy death metal song. Or you could just do nothing, because the original by Johnny Cash is awesome as well!

    • Mike Eckman

      I’m gonna respond to my own post and throw up another non-metal song that worked surprisingly well as a metal cover. “White Wedding”, originally by Billy Idol was covered by Sentenced and is quite cool! :)

      • Madam__X

        That is a good one!! Love the screams :)

      • Guest

        Children of Bodom has covered this song as well :)

    • Chrome Division did a pretty amusing Ghosts in the Sky cover on their last album.

  • Ralph Plug

    It’s a Sin was done four years earlier than Graveworm by the German band Gamma Ray. You really don’t know your power metal, do you? ;)

    • I know power metal pretty well. I think Gamma Ray reeks of stale urine.

      • Angel of Deaf

        You take that back!!! you take that back right now Mister!!!

        • No. Seriously, Gamma Ray is high on my list of most overrated bands ever, honestly. Never understood it at all.

        • sathriel

          Thhough I love me some old Helloween most of Gamma Ray’s output is pretty mediocre. The lyrics do not help much either.

      • Mike Eckman

        To be fair, “Land of the Free”, and “Somewhere Out in Space” were pretty quality albums.

    • Mike Eckman

      Ralph, didn’t you know that all they review here is death metal?

      • And only death metal that sounds like Septicflesh!!

        • Ralph Plug

          And death metal that sounds like Sabaton. Oh wait.

          • Man, people got so butt hurt about that Sabaton record taking Record o’ the Year.

          • sathriel

            They shouldn’t – it’s brilliant. They just have to bow down to his will and see Carolus rise :D

  • Robbert Feunekes

    It’s remarkable how similar Casey’s Last Ride feels–not *sounds* per se–to Cash’s Ain’t No Grave… Both very calm and pressing.
    Great selection, pleasantly surprised by the first track (Vienna Teng)!

    • You know that Kristofferson got his start writing for Cash, right? Sunday Morning Coming Down was a Kristofferson track that Cash covered and it was really Kristofferson’s start.

  • Merijn Kooijman

    Misirlou by Dick Dale also has this metal feel over it I think. And, although a bit hard rocky already: Crazy Horses by The Osmonds.
    Interesting subject.

  • funeraldoombuggy

    You forgot about The Cure. The whole album Pornography is very doomy. First lyrics are “it doesn’t matter if we all die”.

  • Slayerformayor

    “Waiting Around to Die” by Townes Van Zandt. Fucking easy.

    • Slayerformayor

      To head folks off at the pass, I’m aware that Steve Von Till, Wino, and Scott Kelly delivered an album full of Townes covers. “Waiting Around to Die” was inexplicably absent from those covers. I have no idea why. It’s easily Townes’ most bleak song…and Townes wrote lots of bleak songs.

  • “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals, “Fascination Street” by The Cure and “Twilight Zone” by Golden Earring.

    • Iiro

      House of the Rising Sun was covered by Sentenced. The singer is drunk as hell, and you can actually hear a few hobos from my hometown singing after the song.

  • Ernesto Aimar

    IQ’s “Years go By” oozes metal escence

  • Vlad Invictus

    Well, lots of pop tunes of the 80’s are great material for metal cover. Check out the bands like Ultravox or Duran Duran. A-Ha is always a great choice too. The Cure’s song “A Forest” is something I considered would be a great metal cover.

  • Andres Pintos Nocerino

    break on through the doors

  • Andres Pintos Nocerino

    under the milky way and sunday morning too

  • Andres Pintos Nocerino

    and the máster Leonard |Cohen

  • Hutch Trugent

    hey this is awesome. gave Kris K a listen which i never would have done. i always thought “Tears of a Clown” by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles – with its pace, and especially the time changes would make an awesome hardcore or thrash song. and while Hendrix to Cream to Sabbath is not much of a leap – if we agree Hendrix is not metal; CHURCH OF MISERY doing “If 6 was 9” would me phenomenal. *(End of Silence era Rollins Band would also kill this). fun stuff

  • Tanuki

    I always thought Nick Drake was ripe for some covers. Then one of the guys from anathema did a full album. Unfortunately it wasn’t a metal interpretation and lacked the weight of Drake’s original stuff.

  • I Shot J.R

    My Sharona by The Knack. fuckin aweseome.

  • In fairness, I think Anastasia wasn’t Disney. But nicely done.

    • Ben Pegman

      Huh… Whadya know, wasn’t Disney after all. The more you know haha.

      Either way, Chrisoper Loyd. That guy could fully be Devin Townsend’s father

  • Leonard Cohen’s “Waiting for the Miracle”. Would make an awesome brooding doom/sludge cover in just the right hands. Absolutely amazing lyrics, too.

  • Kyle

    My Medea would be perfect if played by Sonata Arctica.
    And The Meek Shall Inherit was practically tailor-made for an Ayreon album.

  • Sprite

    Don’t mess with aHA but if you did Mike Matijevic from Steelheart is renowned for having a 7 octave range. I believe that is an impossible feat by any human but I like his voice just the same.

  • Massimiliano Marelli

    Scoundrel days of course! (an A-ha’s fan)