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Music

The six best covers of Metallica tracks

Metallica have inspired countless cover versions of their tracks over the years, across various genres, including jazz, pop, country and, of course, good old faithful metal. In 2021, 53 artists participated in recording a tribute album to mark the 30th anniversary of Metallica (The Black Album) ’s release, including Biffy Clyro, St. Vincent, Phoebe Bridgers and Idles.

The recent fourth series of Netflix’s Stranger Things also saw the show’s beloved character, Eddie Munson, playing ‘Master of Puppets’ in a brilliant and terrifying scene to distract the demonic bats who were protecting the lair of the season’s villain Vecna. The track was released in 1986, the year the show’s season is set.

The band responded to the song’s inclusion in the show on their Instagram page, stating: “The way The Duffer Brothers have incorporated music into Stranger Things has always been next level, so we were beyond psyched for them to not only include ‘Master of Puppets’ in the show, but to have such a pivotal scene built around it. We were all stoked to see the final result and when we did we were totally blown away… it’s so extremely well done, so much so, that some folks were able to guess the song just by seeing a few seconds of Joseph Quinn’s hands in the trailer! How crazy cool is that?”

“It’s an incredible honor to be such a big part of Eddie’s journey and to once again be keeping company with all of the other amazing artists featured in the show,” the statement concluded.

So today, we’re looking at some of the best Metallica covers to ever be recorded, featuring alternate genre interpretations of some of their best tunes and some loyal metal, thrash and heavy rock renditions. Here they are!

The six best covers of Metallica songs:

‘Whiplash’ – Motorhead

The first single from the band’s 1982 debut album, Kill ‘Em All. The single was released with ‘fake’ live versions of ‘Seek & Destroy’ and ‘Phantom Lord’, which were recorded in the studio with overdubbed crowd noise. The song’s theme is about feeling the experience of headbanging.

Metallica played Lemmy Kilmister’s 50th birthday in 1995, and here, Lemmy returns the tribute in a cover of ‘Whiplash’ in the straight-up hard rock sound that only Motorhead can achieve. Lemmy’s trademark vocals are on absolutely top form here and give ‘Whiplash’ a truly unique British feel. Motorhead received a Grammy nomination for their cover of the track.

‘My Friend of Misery’ – Kamasi Washington 

The penultimate track of 1991’s Metallica (The Black Album). One of three songs that Metallica’s second bassist, Jason Newsted, co-wrote during his time in the band before his exit in 2001. Originally intended as an instrumental, the band later decided to add lyrics.

Contemporary jazz pioneer Kamasi Washington often takes famous tracks and seriously effs them up, blasting them into a completely different dimension. His cover of ‘My Friend Misery’ opens with a beautiful drum solo before diving into a lounge-style vocal reminiscent of the best James Bond soundtracks. Gorgeous yet disorientating piano and sax solos soon follow.

‘Enter Sandman’ – Mac DeMarco

‘Enter Sandman’ is the opening track from the band’s eponymous 1991 album; the song’s lyrics deals with the concept of the nightmares of a young child. The single reached number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was granted platinum status following the sale of over one million copies in the United States.

Everyone’s favourite slacker-rock internet-age joker covered Metallica’s best-known track on The Metallica Blacklist. Joker though he may be, DeMarco was more than up to the task of matching James Hetfield’s vocals, and the track actually bangs harder than you could imagine.

‘Master of Puppets’ – Trivium

The only single from the album of the same name, released in 1986. It was said to be Metallica’s original bassist, Cliff Burton’s favourite song on the album. ‘Master of Puppets’ is regularly played live by the band and is one of the band’s most popular and well-known tracks.

Who better to cover the best thrash band of the 20th Century than the best thrash band of the 21st Century? Matt Heafy’s vocals more than match James Hetfield’s in this faithful rendition of one of Metallica’s most famous tracks. The guitar solo is just about as good as it comes and most likely made Kirk Hammett’s ears prick up too.

‘Fade to Black’ – The Lemonheads

The first power ballad written by Metallica and the first single taken from their Ride The Lightning album (1984), ‘Fade to Black’ is a classic through and through. Lars Ulrich claimed that James Hetfield was “obsessed with death” at the time of the song’s writing. Hetfield later revealed that the breaking of his favourite Marshall amplifier contributed to the dour mood of the track.

Just about as far away as possible from a ‘faithful’ cover of Metallica’s famous ballad. Yet this rendition from The Lemonhead’s Evan Dando manages to create a version of the track that is just devastatingly sad. By stripping down the song to its barebones, Dando makes us focus on the song’s desperate lamentation. 

‘Battery’ – Machine Head

The opening track from 1986’s Master of Puppets. Three acoustic guitars are layered up in harmony during the song’s intro before blasting into a super-fast thrash sequence with the whole band. The intro is usually played on the speakers when the band play the track live as they gear up to play the main parts.

Machine Head released this cover on the Deluxe Edition of 2007’s The Blackening during the peak of their career. They perfectly nailed the song’s Spanish guitar intro before leading into the anthemic, downright evil-sounding electric full band second intro. The band then take this track into full thrash mode in another staunch rendition.