Metallica: Their 13 Best Covers

From Black Sabbath to the Clash, Metallica have put their spin on classics by many of the greatest artists of all time.

By Brian Ives

The deluxe edition of Metallica’s brand new album, Hardwired… to Self-Destruct includes some of the covers that they’ve done in the past few years, including a 2008 cover of Iron Maiden’s “Remember Tomorrow,” a 2012 cover of the Deep Purple b-side “When a Blind Man Cries,” and a 2014 medley of Dio-era Rainbow songs.

Metallica has always had a knack for cool covers, ranging from obscure metal to classic rock. Here, we could down some of our favorites. For the purposes of this list, we’re only including full songs, not medleys, so “Last Caress/Green Hell,” “Mercyful Fate” and “Ronnie Rising Medley” aren’t being included.

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“Am I Evil” (1984) – In their early days, Metallica did a lot of covers to round out their set, but they eschewed the more obvious Iron Maiden and Judas Priest songs, opting for lesser known songs. “Am I Evil,” a cover of a 1980 song by New Wave of British Heavy Metal band Diamondhead has been played by Metallica hundreds of times throughout their career, and some fans may not be aware that it’s not an original. It was one of their first covers, released as a b-side (along with Blitzkrieg’s “Blitzkrieg”) from their 1984 “Creeping Death” single.

“The Wait” (1987) – After the tragic death of bass player Cliff Burton, Metallica recruited former Flotsam & Jetsam bassist Jason Newstead, who finished up the tour for Master of Puppets. When they went to the studio for the first time with their new bandmate, they went back to basics, knocking out a bunch of covers on The $5.98 EP: Garage Days Re-Revisited, something of a sequel to the “Creeping Death” single’s b-sides. The song was from proto-industrial band Killing Joke’s 1980 self-titled album.

“Breadfan” (1988) – The b-side to the 1988 “Harvester of Sorrow” (from …and Justice for All), this was another rather obscure cover: it was on Welsh heavy rock band Budgie’s 1973 album Never Turn Your Back on a Friend. Like “Am I Evil,” it pops up in the set list fairly frequently.

“Stone Cold Crazy” (1990) – Recorded for Rubaiyat, a collection celebrating the 40th anniversary of their then-record label, Elektra Records, this marked the first time Metallica covered a band who were well-known to the mainstream. This cover of Queen’s most metal song won the band their second GRAMMY.

So What (1993) This profanity laced ditty was released as the b-side to the 1993 single for “Sad But True” (from 1991’s Metallica) and became the name of their fan club fanzine. The song was originally a b-side for the Anti-Nowhere League in 1981. We’ve linked to it, instead of embedding it so if you click through, be warned: it’s about as NSFW as any song could be.

“Overkill” (1996) In late 1995 all four members of Metallica dressed up like Motorhead leader Lemmy (calling themselves “The Lemmys”) for a gig at L.A.’s Whiskey A-Go-Go to celebrate the man’s 50th birthday. The set was recorded and released a year later… but only as bonus tracks on a limited edition single of Load‘s “Hero of the Day.” Other Motorhead classics they covered at the gig include “Damage Case,” “Stone Dead Forever,” “Too Late, Too Late,” “The Chase Is Better Than the Catch,” “We Are the Road Crew” although the latter two didn’t make the single.

“Loverman” (1998) – In 1998, Metallica compiled all of their covers on a 2 CD set called Garage, Inc. They all fit on one disc: the second disc featured some brand new covers, including this rather surprising one, a 1994 song by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (from their Let Love In album).

“Sabbra Cadabra” (1998) – It’s kind of surprising that it took Metallica 15 years to finally cover Black Sabbath (from their 1973 album, Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath). Metallica covered Sabbath a few other times over the years (they performed “Hole in the Sky” and “Iron Man” at Sabbath’s 2006 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and backed Ozzy Osbourne for “Iron Man” and “Paranoid” in 2009 for a concert celebrating the Rock Hall’s anniversary. But “Sabbra Cadabra” was their best Sabbath tribute.

“53rd and 3rd” (2003) – In 1996, Metallica and the Ramones shared stages all summer long on the Lollapalooza tour. A few years later, Metallica paid tribute to “the brudders” with this classic that they recorded for the Rob Zombie-produced Ramones tribute, We’re a Happy Family. A bunch of other Ramones covers would be bonus tracks on the “St. Anger” single – “Commando,” “Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World,” “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue” and “Cretin Hop,” but “53rd and 3rd” was the best of the bunch.

“The Ecstasy of Gold” (2007) For years, Metallica would hit the stage to Ennio Morricone’s “The Ecstasy of Gold,” a classic bit of film scoring from the 1966 western The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. In 2007, they recorded their own version for a tribute album called We All Love Ennio Morricone. Which will probably be the only time they’ll be on an album that also features Celine Dion and Yo-Yo Ma.

“Remember Tomorrow” (2008) It took Metallica 15 years to cover Sabbath, but 25 to cover Iron Maiden, another seminal metal influence. This one was for Maiden Heaven, which was given away for free with a special issue of British metal magazine Kerrang!. Maiden recorded this with their original lineup – including singer Paul Di’Anno – for their 1980 self titled debut, one of the best metal records ever.

“When A Blind Man Cries” (2012) – Earlier in 2016, Lars Ulrich told the world about his love for Deep Purple when he presented them at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But four years earlier, Metallica paid tribute by covering a Purple b-side (to the 1972 “Never Before” single) for a tribute to DP’s best album on Re-Machined: A Tribute to Deep Purple’s ‘Machine Head’.

“Clampdown” (2016) – Metallica has played Neil Young’s acoustic Bridge School Benefit concert three times, and have thrown in some unlikely covers, including Garbage (“Only Happy When It Rains”) and the Dire Straits (“Brothers in Arms”). This year they tried out the Clash with a classic from their 1980 album London Calling.

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