When a band takes on the songs of another, there’s a lot riding on it: Will they do the band/song justice? Is the song in question a good fit for the covering band? Would it be considered blasphemous if the band covered that specific song? Can the singer nail those high notes? and so on and so forth.
DevilDriver are the reason we’ve put this list together, they’ve just released their brand new album Outlaws ‘til the End, Vol. 1 (review here) which features a whole stack of country songs, turned metal. Surprisingly, as someone who doesn’t appreciate many country songs, the album fucking rocks and has one of the better ‘Copperhead Road‘ covers I’ve laid my ears on. But where does it sit compared to some of the greatest covers albums of all time? No, I’m not talking about the Punk Goes Pop churn and burns, they’ve had their time and gone downhill rapidly over the past few years, I’m talking about the full band dedicated albums that have stood the test of time after all these years, let’s countdown The Top 7 Heavy Covers Albums of All Time, starting with
#7 – Melvins – Everybody Loves Sausages (2013)
You either love the Melvins or you’re someone who hasn’t discovered their punk rock goodness yet, and if you fall into the latter, you might want to start with Everybody Loves Sausages. Over the years, the guys have covered more artists than you have ex-partners and to say they got better with age wouldn’t exactly be right, but their fantastic album featuring covers of Lead Belly, Queen, Venom and David Bowie is arguably certainly up there with their best work.
#6 – MxPx – On The Cover II (2009)
Punk Rawk Heroes MxPx first attempted a covers album in 1995 and although it was good, it wasn’t great. Their second go however, was a much better improvement and really showcased the band’s ability to turn any song they touched, into a punk classic (or in some cases, give punk classics a new-age update). Featuring tracks first penned by U2, Ramones, The Proclaimers, Descendents, The Clash and Kim Wilde, you need to “stick this release in your pipe and smoke it”… that’s Gen X talk for “thrash the fuck out of it because it’s lit fam”.
#5 – Guns N’ Roses – “The Spaghetti Incident?” (1993)
Back in the 90’s when Guns N’ Roses were still in their prime, their final album to feature core members like Slash and Duff McKagan was this release which believe it or not, is still one of their most popular alongside it’s (meh!) follow up Chinese Democracy. Boasting covers of The Stooges, T-Rex/Soundgarden, Fear, The Skyliners and Misfits’ ‘Attitude‘ (which the band most recently whipped out at Download Fest UK), it’s no wonder the album has sold in excess of 6.1 Million copies as of March this year.
#4 – Bat Sabbath (Cancer Bats) – Bastards of Reality EP (2013)
Cancer Bats + Black Sabbath = Bat Sabbath. Simple Maths. Exceptional Release. This short but sweet EP from the Canadian natives proved to be quite a hit with fans, so much so, they started touring their alter-ego band playing nothing but Black Sabbath songs and goddamn it was gooood. Featuring the songs ‘Children of the Grave‘, ‘Into the Void‘, ‘Iron Man‘, ‘NIB‘ and ‘War Pigs‘, they almost nailed all the best tracks in one go. The band are no strangers to covers, having recorded a rendition of Beastie Boys‘ ‘Sabotage‘ which went fucking off, but don’t expect a full length covers album anytime soon according to frontman Liam Cormer who, when we spoke to him back in 2015, shut down the idea completely.
#3 – Burn The Priest (Lamb of God) – Legion: XX (2018)
Back before they became Lamb of God, the gang were known as Burn The Priest and they were a covers band. Fast forward 20 years and the band have literally just released one of the BEST covers albums of all time (well Top 3 according to this list) and it’s as heavy and punk as you’d expect from an established band like LoG. Legion: XX (our review here) has tracks originally recorded by Ministry, Quicksand, Bad Brains and The Accused, all of which just scream perfection. Why they didn’t jump on this idea sooner is astounding, but we are glad they finally got there in the end.
#2 – Rage Against The Machine – Renegades (2000)
This was the last RATM album to be released. Let that sink in. 18 years ago the band stopped making music together, frontman Zack de la Rocha departed, the rest of the band formed Audioslave with Chris Cornell in his place and we were left with a cover album so good, it went Platinum in less than a month after it’s release. The Boss (Bruce Springsteen), Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Devo and even Cypress Hill all got a look in, with B-Real also featuring on guest vocals, years later, Prophets of Rage would form and he would join the former Ragers full-time.
and the winner is
#1 – Metallica – Garage Inc. (1998)
Metallica have done some wrong in their career (St. Anger), but they’ve also done some pretty decent things too, especially with their cover album Garage Inc. which is hands down, the best we’ve come across which still after 20 years, holds up and is still just as listenable as it was the day it was released. Their ability to take original songs and give them a ‘tallica twist proved so well, for years I thought ‘Whiskey in the Jar‘ was an original song that just made its way on the album. On top of that Thin Lizzy inspired cover (the original was by Traditional), the boys also tried their hand at Bob Seger, Misfits, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blue Öyster Cult and our very own Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
Find me a better album and prove how better it was musically, in popularity, critically and cover-y… yeah that’ll do.
So there you have it, certainly a list that’ll get some people talking, arguing and possibly even nodding their heads in agreeance. If we’ve missed anything or got the order wong, you know where to address you attention, our Wall of Sound Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages.
Also, check out Dez Fafara from DevilDriver chatting about his band’s new covers album on this week’s episode of Wall of Sound: Up Against The Wall right here
Written by Browny @brownypaul