Top 40 Pop/Rock songs covered by metal bands

23/07/2018 Articles Share
Back in the 80s, there was an unwritten rule that metal bands were doing covers of their musical heroes. This tradition was present especially in the thrash metal scene where the bands were paying homage to their sonic gurus and were trying to showt that their musical roots weren't necessarily aggressive and that their musical influences have nothing to do with metal in numerous occasions. Here is our list of top 40 pop/rock songs covered by metal bands. Some of them are faster, some slower... Some perfectly mimic the original version. In numerous occasions, the bands even managed to make the cover that sounds completely different when compared to the original while paying full respects to those who wrote it. So, take a look at our list, you probably didn't hear some of these!



40) Sacred Reich - Who do you want to Be (Oingo Boingo cover)

Originally released in 1983 album Good for Your Soul



Phoenix Arizona-based tharshers did a good job covering Oingo Boingo’Who do You Want to Be. This time,   Sacred Reich followed the rule: more punk, less funk! A perfect way to lose yourself in the moshpit!  Sacred Reich's version is way faster and it kicks ass as much as the original!


39)Flotsam and Jetsam – Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting (Elton John cover)

Originally released in 1973 album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road



It’s always good to hear a pop rock song on steroids, pumped up in a thrash metal way!  Flotsam and Jetsam did their homework for covering  one of Elton John’s  most popular songs!  Flotsam’s singer really nailed that chorus!


38)Candlemass – Don’t Fear the Reaper (Blue Oyster Cult cover)

Originally released in 1976 album Agents of Fortune



A cult song from the 80s! That chord progression is lifechaning!  Candlemass did a cover of Don’t Fear the Reaper, and yeah, they made it in a good, old, doom fashioned way!  They did an excellent job and yeah, these vocals are more than awesome!


37)Nuclear Assault – Ballroom Blitz (Sweet cover)

Originally released in 1974 album Desolation Boulevard



New York thrashers’ version of Sweet’s iconic song Ballroom Blitz is damn sweet indeed! Nuclear Assault left their stamp on this tune, but their cover does not vary a lot from the original.  However, they nailed it and that’s what matters the most!


36)Laaz Rockit – Holiday in Cambodia (Dead Kennedys cover)          

Originally released in 1980 album Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables



Well, Holiday in Cambodia is Raining Blood of punk I guess... Bay Area thrashers Laaz Rockit paid their respects to Jello Biafra and Dead Kennedys with this one.  Laaz Rockit’s version is really good but nothing beats the good, old, original version, whose awesomeness is undeniable.


35)Xentrix - Ghostbusters (Ghostbusters theme song cover)

Originally recorded for the 1984 movie Ghostbusters.



Ghostbusters!  Underground thrash metal band Xentrix paid respect to one of the most popular movies of the 80s by covering their theme song. They even did a video for it!  It will throw you back to the good old days when MTV was about music only.


34)Carnivore – Manic Depression (The Jimi Hendrix Experience cover)

Originally released in 1967 album Are you Experienced



Goddamn! Carnivore/Type O Negative mastermind Peter Steele was such a gigantic artist!  He really knew how to make someone else’s song his own. Carnivore’s version of Manic Depression is million times more brutal than Jimi Hendrix’ version. But still, both versions kick some major fucking ass! Thrash in peace Peter Steele!


33)Toxik – Out on the Tiles (Led Zeppelin cover)

Originally released in 1970 album Led Zeppelin III



By the gods! New York thrashers Toxik did more than an amazing job by this covering classic Led Zeppelin song. The riffs are right on spot, and their singer could even par Robert Plant’s godlike singing! And yeah, that solo is 18+ y'all!  The actual cover on this album starts at 39:54. Enjoy!


32)Forbidden – 21st Century Schizoid Man (King Crimson  cover)

Originally released in 1969 album In the Court of the Crimson King  



To be honest,  we would expect a cover of the 11-minute long of King Crimson infamous song done by some doom/stoner metal band, not by  Bay Area thrashers – Forbidden. And yeah,  they slowed the tune down and made it sound even more more dissonant than the original!  It’s pretty cool to hear Russ Anderson’s singing a couple octaves lower than usual.


31)Realm – One More Red Nightmare (King Crimson cover)

Originally released in 1974 album Red



All right! Realm is a cult undeground progressive/ technical thrash metal band that really deserves your attention. They covered one of the best King Crimson songs. These guys really knew what they were doing! Everything seems to be in place.  The vocals are pretty close to the original, and the rest of the band gave its best to give a feel of their own to this tremendous tune. Highly recommended!


30) Gwar – If you want blood, you got it! (AC/DC cover)

Originally released in 1979 album Highway to Hell



A really nice version of AC/DC’s  classic song If you want Blood, You got it! There is no way you won’t find yourself headbanging while listening to Gwar’s version.Gwar’s version comes with Bonesnapper’s message at the end of the song. Oderus Urungus is probably listening to this song while he runs amok on the planet of Scumdogia. Rest in peace, brother!


29) Voivod - Astronomy Domine (Pink Floyd cover)

Originally released in 1967 album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn



It was kinda hard to choose between Voivod’s cover of Astronomy Domine or Nile Song, but we gave advantage to this one. Plus, Canadian thrash metal legends made a pretty killer video for this psychedelic tune!  Rest in peace Piggy! You will be missed!


28)Rammstein – Das Model (Kraftwerk cover)

Originally released in 1979 album The Man-Machine



Industrial metal pioneers paying homage to  their fellow German countrymen – Kraftwerk, the fathers of electronic music. Of course, the main riff has tons of heaviness in Rammstein’s version. Flake’s keyboard parts fit perfectly! But still, nothing beats good, old, Kraftwerk


27) Heathen – Set me Free (Sweet cover)

Originally released in 1974 album Sweet Fanny Adams



Bring it on!  Heathen is one of those underrated Bay Area thrash metal bands that never made it big, even though the boys slay! They are better known as Lee Altus’ first band (who is currently playing in Exodus).  David Godfrey’s vocals are simply carrying this tune from beginning to the end! Gotta love this cover! It will stick in your head for ages!


26) Dark Angel – Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin cover)

Originally released in 1970 album Led Zeppelin III



Holy shit!  Bay area thrash metal legends Dark Angel covering Rock n Roll giants Led Zeppelin seems like a fair deal! This is what happens when you cover a 2:30-minute-long song, shorten it, and then fasten it up!  Ron Rinehart's scream in the beginning will blow everybody away!  Dark Angel's version is not for those with heart problems and that's for sure!


25) Sanctuary – White Rabbit (Jefferson Airplane cover)

Originally released in 1967 album Surrealistic Pillow



The story of Alice involves a lot of drugs. That may not surprise you, cause White Rabbit is written in the Golden Age of psychodelic drugs  and music by  the San Francisco-based  legends Jefferson Airplane. Sanctuary’s version of the song is really good. A bit longer, but still trippy enough. Warrel Dane really nailed the scream in this one! He will be missed!


24) Children of Bodom – Oops I did it again!  (Britney Spears cover)

Originally released in 1999 album  …Baby More Time



One of the most hilarious covers of all time! This cover brings a smile to your face instantly. Britney Spears would be proud of the boys! They made your sister’s favorite song from the elementary school quite listenable!  Slap bass is another surprise for this cover! Looks like someone played with Alexi Laiho's heart and he "got lost in the game" and that’s why he decided to do this cover!


23) Fear Factory – Cars (Gary Numan cover)

Originally released in 1979 album The Pleasure Principle



Iconic synth pop song from an iconic metal band.  You just can’t imagine the 80s without synth pop - a genre that flooded both the TV and radio. Fear Factory really nailed Gary Numan’s song and added their own flavour to it. It is not entirely  different, but it still kicks ass!


22) Tankard – Centerfold (J. Geils Band cover)

Originally released in 1981 album Freeze-Frame



Kickass cover from a kickass band! Tankard really knows how to cover a catchy tune and transform it into an even catchier one. The melodic riffs and the "na-na-na" part is highly effective! The earworm  is unlikely going to leave your head for a while! This cover proves that this band can be cheerful and light-hearted despite the fact that they are one of the most prominent names of  Teutonic Big Four & the German thrash metal scene!


21) Destruction – My Sharona (The Knack cover)

Originally released in 1979 album Get the Knack



Probably none of you know who The Knack is, but you surely know their cult song My Sharona. German thrash metal legends Destruction did an awesome job by covering that tune! It sounds like Destruction minus Schmier on vox.  But still, it’s a hell of a cover and that’s for sure!


20) Soulfly – Umbabarauma (Jorge Ben Jor cover)

Originally released in 1976 album Africa Brasil




One of the most original covers from this list! Legendary Max Cavalera couldn’t find a catchier tune than this! Soulfly was about to conquer the world and they didn’t  care whether you liked the choice of their cover or not!  From the start, Soulfly was open for experimentation Soufly’s version was used for FIFA 2002 world cup. It makes sense you know, Brazil, footbal, and metal!  P.S. there is no such thing as soccer!


19) Metallica – Stone Cold Crazy  (Queen cover)

Originally released in 1974 album Sheer Heart Attack



That’s right! The founders of thrash metal paid their respects to one of the greatest bands of all time – Queen!  James Hetfield’s singing may not be profound as Freddy Mercury’s but he did it in his own style, and his version is damn good! And those riffs are just intense & in your face!


18) Black Sabbath – Evil Woman (Crow cover)

Originally released in 1969 album Crow Music



You like Black Sabbath in a bluesy mode, don’t ya? That tune has catchy riff, but Ozzy Osbourne’s vocals are beyond catchiness! And of course, it’s heavier than the original! Crow’s version is pretty damn good, but you can say that Black Sabbath have outdone themselves with this cover! The pioneers of heavy metal are always delivering good music, even though it’s not always pure metal!


17) Brujeria –  Don Quijote Marijuana (Los Del Rio cover)

Originally released in 1993 album A Mi Me Gusta.




Remember that catchy tune Macarena that was on TV 24/7 even though the song’s lyrics are about a threesome? I guess you didn’t know what that song was all about ! However, Brujeria made a song of their own based on the main riff of Macarena.  Their version is all about the sweet leaf baby! And it’s twice as long than the original + it has a synth pop part and really funny video!


16) Napalm Death – Nazi Punks Fuck off (Dead Kennedys cover)

Originally released in 1981 EP In God We Trust, Inc.



Damn! Napalm Death really know to make things more intense and interesting! Their version of this song may differ from the original, but it is certain that this cover will piss a lot of nazis off! Mitch Harris should be back in the band! His back vocals and riffs are so damn unique!  What are the odds of grindcore pioneers making a cover of a Dead Kennedys song that lasts longer than the original 1-minute long tune? STRANGE TO SAY, AT LEAST!


15) Coroner – I want you (She’s so heavy) (The Beatles cover)

Originally released in 1969 album Abbey Road.



Definitely one of the greatest Beatles covers EVER! Swiss thrash metal legends Coroner picked one of the best Beatles tracks and wrote it in their own style. Everything about this cover is just perfect – the riffs, the vocals and the amazing solo played by Tommy T. Baron. Coroner’s version is simply breathtaking! You don’t even need to like The Beatles to dig this cover!


14) Overkill – Frankenstein (Edgar Winter Group cover)

Originally released in 1972 album They Only Come Out At Night



East coast thrash metal legends never disappoint! That D.D. Verni’s bass is loud and it pierces your ears!  Oddly enough,  Overkill’s Frankenstein is the only instrumental cover on this list!  They couldn’t have picked a better song to cover! And by the way, that keyboard sample is identical to the keyboards in Rammstein’s Feuer Frei (hearing is believing my friend!) Hell,  these Edgar Winter Group guys may look funny, but they really know to make a good song!


13) Sodom – Aber Bitte Mit Sahne (Udo Jurgens cover)

Originally released in 1976 album Meine Lieder 2



Schlager singer meets German thrash metal? Sounds impossible?  Sodom will prove you wrong! This hilarious cover is funny and yet heavy enough to get your head banging! You just can’t get anything better than Aber Bitte mit Sahne artwork! These back vocals and Tom Angelripper’s voice will make your day!  Udo Jurgens may be dead, but his legacy lives on! Sodom are better known for kickass covers, and this one is no exception!


12) Death – God of Thunder (Kiss cover)

Originally released in 1976 album Destroyer



All right! This is what happens when one of the legendary death metal bands covers their idols from the 70s. This is a simply awesome cover by the godfather of death metal – Chuck Schuldiner of Death. And yeah, just hear Sean Reinhert’s crazy drumming & Steve DiGiorgio’s over-the-top bass lines! The original version is lame when compared with Death’s.


11)Arch Enemy – Shadow on the Wall (Mike Oldfield cover)

Originally released in 1983 album Crises



You just can’t decide which one is better, can you? Alissa White-Gluz made this song way more brutal! And yeah, a melodic death metal solo is a must! I would like to see Mike Oldfield’s face when he heard this cover! The original song will kinda sound boring if you play it right after Arch Enemy’s version.


10)Testament – Animal Magnetism (Scorpions cover)

Originally released in 1980 album Animal Magnetism



This happens when Bay Area Thrash metal band covers one of Scorpions’ songs! Testament are not to be messing around with! These guys gave a big watermark of their own while covering this tune! The song sounds darker and more brutal! Hands down for that solo, Alex Skolnick! Chuck Billy’s vocals are constantly on the verge between thrash and death metal vocal style and that gives an extra boost to this cover! Testament’s cover sounds gigantic with this new production! Your ears will be overwhelmed!


9)Motorhead – Louie Louie (Richard Berry Cover)

Originally released in 1957 album You Are My Sunshine.



If we have in mind that Louie Louie is one of the most covered songs of all time, it is not a big surprise to know that there is a Motorhead version of it. But after all, Lemmy nailed it! Everything about Motorhead’s version is just perfect! Reverb on the guitars, Lemmy’s voice, cowbell drumming.... Rest in Peace Lemmy, Philthy and Eddie!


8) Sepultura – War (Bob Marley cover)

Originally released in 1976 album Rastaman Vibration



HOLY FUCKING SHIT! This is one of the trippiest and one of the most original covers  I’ve ever heard! It definitely sounds nothing like the original, but it would be kinda funny to hear Sepultura in a reggae mode! Of course, we are talking about the classic Sepultura lineup! The guys just transformed that tune into a sonic beast of their own! Igor’s drumming and Andreas Kisser’s riffs are brain-melting! Not to mention the brutality of Max Cavalera’s vocals ! Hands down for the boys! That noisy keyboard part will stick in your head forever! 


7)Anthrax – Got the Time (Joe Jackson cover)

Originally released in 1979 album Look Sharp!



That’s right! These guys are like Johnny Cash – when they cover something, they make it sound better than the original so they kinda “steal” it and make it more popular than the original. As the members of Big Four, Anthrax always deliver a great dose of thrash metal to your ears!  Frankie Bello’s bass is so loud!  Joey Belladonna nailed the vox, while  Charlie Benante’s drumming, Danny Spitz' & Scott Ian's riffs brought this song to a whole new level.  And yeah, Frankie Bello’s solo fits like a cherry on top.  Anthrax’s version is a million times better than the original. More intense, more catchy and more thrashy! Fair deal if you ask me!


6)Judas Priest – Diamonds & Rust (Joan Baez cover)

Originally released in 1975 album Diamonds & Rust




The choice between Green Manalishi and Diamonds and Rust is really tough one but we gave advantage to the latter. This song became Judas Priest's anthem of some sorts.  The riffs and Rob Halford’s vocals gave this tune a new face!   The metal gods’ cover is miles away from the original, but both versions are simply amazing! How touching this song sounds live approves the fact that Glen Tipton was bursting in tears while playing it in Belgrade, Serbia in 2011. We are with you buddy!


5) Mekong Delta – Interludium (Begging for Mercy) – (Psycho theme)

Originally recorded for 1960 Alfred Hitchcock movie Psycho



Highly underrated German progressive/technical thrash metal act Mekong Delta expanded the boundaries of metal music since their debut album! These thrash metal vituosos paid homage to one of the most famous film directors of all time – Alfred Hitchcock. They made a cover for his cult movie theme – Psycho. You just can’t find any flaw in Mekong Delta’s performance of this theme. It starts with a chilling acoustic intro and then the violins kick in! The whole arrangement for this song is astonishing!  The way the violins are connected with the guitars, the loudness of the bass and the drums that really give a profound dynamics to the whole thing!  Without a doubt, this is one of the best adaptations of a movie theme in metal PERIOD!


4)Exodus – Low Rider (War cover)

Originally released in 1975 album Why Can’t We Be Friends?



Oh yeah! Undoubtedly, one of the best covers on this list!  Would you really expect cowbells in a thrash metal song? Bay Area kings, Exodus, did an excellent job by covering the infamous War song. Exodus’ version is so damn awesome and it clearly shows that Korn failed miserably by trying to do the same! H-Team (Garry Holt & Rick Hunolt) delivered some of the best leads in their entire career!  Steve Sousa nailed the vox as well!  And yeah, this version is like 3 times shorter & faster than the original!  And afterall, Exodus’ version is pretty funky if you have in mind that they are a thrash metal band par excellence! Hands down for this one!


3) Slayer – In the Gadda Da Vida (Iron Butterfly cover)

Originally released in 1968 album In-Da-Gadda-Da-Vida



FUCKING SLAYEEEERR!  Bay area thrash metal gods paying their respect to the psychedelic  San Diego-based legends? Fair deal! This cover may not sound as trippy & psychedelic as the original, but it SLAYS! Slayer always delivers the aggression and thrashiness  to a whole new level no matter what song they choose to cover. The moment you hear those Dave Lombardo’s drum rolls, you know that this cover can’t fail! Tom Araya’s vocals have never been so good and catchy!  And yeah, Slayer needs no keyboards to dominate your stereo! Rest in peace Jeff Hanneman, you are still reigning!


2) Megadeth – These Boots (Nancy Sinatra cover)

Originally released in 1966 album Boots



All right boys and girls!  Who the hell expected that Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine would choose a song like this one for a cover!? Nancy Sinatra’s version is damn fine, but this version would probably make her hair fall off or something... Now, the original tune is pretty hot & heavy but Megadeth sped it up and played it a million times faster (and kinda made a song of their own). This cover reminds us of the good old days when Chris Poland and Gar Samuelson (RIP) were in the band. One more living proof that Megadeth are one of the best thrash metal bands under the sun! And btw, there is a censored version of Megadeth's cover because Lee Hazlewood (the guy who wrote the lyrics for Nancy) didn't like the fact that Mustaine changed his lyrics. Ha!


1) System of a Down – Metro (Berlin Cover)

Originally released in 1981 album Pleasure Victim



Whether we're talking about synth pop or metal, it is out of the question that both System of a Down and Berlin rule! SOAD covered the probably most emotional song on this list.  I guess everybody was in love with Terri Nunn’s voice and appereance back in the day! SOAD made Metro sound as if we are talking about the japanese one – it’s hella faster and it’s flying baby!  It's also funky as hell. Daron Malakian’s guitar licks are what makes this band so good after all! His input mixed with Serj Tankian’s unique voice made this tune as awesome as the original. And you can totally mosh to SOAD’s version!

What is your favorite cover on the list? Are there original songs that you prefer over the covered versions? Do you dislike some of the covers? Let us know in the comment section down below! And by the way, don't forget to share this article and follow us via our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter pages! You can also subscribe to our Youtube channel! If you like what we are doing, support us via patreon! Your contributions will make us stronger and our work easier!

my picture

Related Post