Thrash metal veterans, Metallica, are gearing up to release their 11th studio record 72 Seasons on April 14. As one of the most respected bands in metal, with an extensive catalog spanning over four decades, it’s no surprise that Metallica’s influence has bridged dozens of genres outside of heavy music.
READ MORE: The 12 Best Covers of Metallica's 'Enter Sandman'
To celebrate one of our favorite metal moguls, we’re diving into some of the most unique covers of Metallica classics; ranging from bluegrass to classical, and more.
Rockabye Baby, “Enter Sandman”
A personal favorite on this list is this cover of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” from Rockabye Baby’s Lullaby Renditions of Metallica. Rockabye Baby has become known over the years for their continued genius in turning the catalogs of well-known bands and artists into lullabies to lull little ones, or in this case young rock fans, to sleep.
Featured on an entire album of Metallica classics turned lullaby, this version of “Enter Sandman” is the perfect way to ease your newborn into the metalhead lifestyle; or maybe even your non-metalhead friends. Lullaby Renditions of Metallica also features lullaby stylings of “Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth),” “Battery,” “Wherever I May Roam” and more.
Bif Naked, “Nothing Else Matters”
This haunting rendition of one of Metallica’s biggest tracks hails from Canadian pop-punk singer, Bif Naked. In a 2005 interview with The Fairfield Mirror, Biff said, “‘Nothing Else Matters’ is my favorite song by them. I’ve always wanted to do it.”
Often cited as the most surprising track from her 2005 release Superbeautifulmonster, it’s often regarded as one of the most memorable.
Iron Horse, “For Whom the Bell Tolls”
Metallica turned bluegrass? Yeah, we had a hard time believing this one existed, too. This track just might be one of the most surprising covers on this list and comes from one of two Metallica cover albums done by the bluegrass group, Iron Horse. Done with the use of acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin and a stand-up bass; this cover of “For Whom The Bell Tolls” is one you’ll have a hard time forgetting. Cliff Burton’s iconic bass riff is showcased loud and proud on Iron Horse’s rendition, and this rendition includes some impressive freestyling.
Apoptygma Berzerk, “Fade to Black”
This “future pop” cover of Metallica’s “Fade To Black” has developed its own cult following on subreddits across the interwebs and very well could win the award for the oddest and most unrecognizable Metallica cover out there.
Apoptygma Berzerk is a Norwegian group (nt, not Norwegian black metal) most known for their use of synthesizers and electronic rhythms; although it’s pretty impressive that Metallica’s influence spanned into such a niche genre, this cover sounds more like an anomalous cover of U2’s “New Year’s Day” rather than a track by Metallica.
Gregorian, “The Unforgiven”
If you’re into the art of Gregorian chants, this cover of Metallica’s “The Unforgiven” is the cover for you. Released in 2006 on Gregorian’s Masters of Chant Chapter V, this Metallica track is one of many definitive rock and metal anthems turned classic.
While different from the version of “The Unforgiven” that we metalheads have come to know and love over the years, Gregorian’s take is surprisingly a welcomed change of pace.
Rodrigo y Gabriela, “Orion”
Mexican acoustic guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela created nothing short of magic with their version of “Orion.” With only the use of acoustic guitar, the pair found a way to preserve the heaviness of this over eight-minute metal masterpiece from 1986’s Master of Puppets; fit with down picking and solos galore.
The only thing better than listening to their captivating studio performance is watching these two perform their guitar wizardry live. Make it a point to give this one a listen.
Heavy metal seems like one of the most complex genres to turn a capella, but German a cappella band Van Canto conquers this seemingly impossible feat with their cover of “Battery.” Although it’s technically not completely a capella as it includes a drum backing track, the rest of the track brings the concept of “air guitar” to the next level.
The six-piece group manages to sing not only each and every riff but the entirety of Kirk Hammett’s blistering guitar solo. Talk about impressive.
Apocalyptica, “Creeping Death”
Often regarded as one of the very first symphonic metal groups to develop classic metal tracks into complex orchestral arrangements, Finnish quartet Apocalyptica ushered in a new era with their 1996 debut, Plays Metallica by Four Cellos. Apocalyptica took on some of Metallica’s biggest hits, but arguably one of their best is their cover of “Creeping Death” from 1984’s Ride The Lightning. Despite the use of no drums or electric guitar, the integrity of the original remains with deep, rich rhythms mimicking the heaviness of ‘Tallica’s guitars.
Three years after the release of Plays Metallica by Four Cellos, Metallica went on to release S&M; a live collaboration with Michael Kamen’s San Francisco Symphony. You can’t help but wonder if the success of Apocalyptica’s debut convinced Metallica to dive into the world of metal meets classical.
St. Vincent, “Sad But True”
Annie Clark, more commonly known by her long standing stage name St. Vincent, lent her unique talents to contribute an industrial metal cover of “Sad But True” on The Metallica Blacklist; a 2021 release celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Metallica’s self-titled record; also known as The Black Album.
This tribute release featured a total of 53 artists covering the 12 tracks from Metallica’s 1991 release in their own retrospective styles, with St. Vincent’s take on “Sad But True” being one of the most memorable. Think Nine Inch Nails meets Metallica; it’s sinister and ominous while still holding on to every aspect that made Metallica’s original version so unforgettable. Even with its techno, electric-pop influence, St. Vincent’s rendition includes her own tasty, searing guitar bits and dark vocals that would make any metalhead venture into Clark’s own catalog for more.
Closing this list is easily one of the most inventive Metallica covers from one of rock ’n’ roll’s finest. The term heavenly would be an understatement to describe this mash-up created by Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman, Chris Cornell; singing the lyrics of Metallica’s “One” to the composition of U2’s song of the same name.
It’s hard to imagine that such a mash-up could work, considering both tracks have nothing in common with each other but their titles; but boy oh boy, it does. In 2016, Cornell told IndyStar, “A few years ago, I was going to do ‘One’ by U2 — I Googled the lyrics, but the words to Metallica’s ‘One’ came up. I thought, “You know what, I’m gonna add those,” and it seemed to work pretty seamlessly. Those are things that, when I’m doing a cover song, maybe goes some degree beyond what you’d expect. And that’s just me having fun.”