When it comes to metal subgenres, black metal’s got to be one of the most serious. But what happens when they step out of their comfort zone and cover a song that’s not quite as dark or brutal? We at MetalSucks would like to think that sort of thing results in an unexpected, yet excellent melding of styles and subjects.
Before we dive into our main selections, here are some honorable mentions: Forgotten Tomb and Psychonaut 4’s respective covers of The Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” Dimmu Borgir’s take on Twisted Sister’s “Burn in Hell,” and the German outfit Fjoergyn’s reinterpretation of the American classic “What a Wonderful World.”
Without further ado, check out the selections we know you won’t be able to unhear once you listen to these unforgettable tracks.
Vondur — “Love Me Tender” (Elvis Presley)
Formed in 1993, Vondur was arguably one of the world’s most amusing black metal bands. The quality of their work only enhanced the effect of their wicked sense of humor. The brainchild of Abruptum collaborators All and the late IT, Vondur released a demo, Uppruni vonsku (1994); an album, Striðsyfirlýsing (1996); an EP, The Galactic Rock N’ Roll Empire (1998); and a compilation, No Compromise! (2011). That compilation, which came out after the duo’s had called it quits in 1998, features four covers that were previously included on their seven-song EP.
Tulus — “Space Oddity” (David Bowie)
Tulus’ reinterpretation of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” has to be in my opinion one of the greatest covers ever recorded. Tulus perfectly pulls off a gorgeous blend of clean and harsh vocals. It’s a bold move that probably shouldn’t work, but Tulus are masters of their craft. Tulus also recorded a terrific cover of Obituary’s “Slowly We Rot” and both gems appear as bonus tracks on the compilation Cold Core Collection (2000).
Shining — “Ohm (Sommar med Siv)” (Seigmen)
Shining has a greater number of outstanding covers than any other black metal band. In fact, their 2011 EP of cover songs, Lots of Girls Gonna Get Hurt, was recently reissued with some very interesting bonus tracks. For today’s purposes, however, we’re looking specifically at their version of Seigmen’s “Ohm (sommar med Siv)” because it’s a case of one of the best bands covering another top group. Seigmen are legends, so it’s a shame that many Americans have yet to discover their genius.
Sarkom — “Breathe” (The Prodigy)
Sarkom is one of our favorite Norwegian black metal bands. They have taken on Scorpion’s “Steamrock Fever” as well as less surprising choices — tracks by Black Sabbath, Sodom, and Urgehal. Sarkom’s music video for their unlikely cover of The Prodigy’s “Breathe” premiered online in July 2021 and was also included on the two-song EP Svøpt i en dynge av dritt (2021).
Negator — “Gloomy Sunday” (Billie Holiday)
The German group Negator only disbanded in 2021, but we already miss them. In many ways, they set a great example to the broader metal community. Negator’s killer cover of Billie Holiday’s “Gloomy Sunday” can be found on their sophomore album, Die eisernen Verse (2005).
Doedsvangr — “Piledriver” (Piledriver)
Doedsvangr’s cover of “Piledriver,” which was composed by none other than the Canadian extreme metal legends Piledriver, was included as a bonus track on certain versions of Serpents ov Old (2021) — an extraordinary album with guest appearances by Vicotnik of Dødheimsgard and Nag of Tsjuder.
Similarly, Marduk has a terrific cover of Piledriver’s “Sex with Satan” along with some other interesting choices.
Darkthrone — “Bad Attitude” (Testors)
Darkthrone’s spin on “Bad Attitude” by the NYC punk rock band Testors first appeared on the single Forebyggende krig (2006). The following words actually acquire absurdity on the lips of Fenriz: “I try to keep a good attitude each and every day.”
We’d also like to highlight Darkthrone’s cover of “Love in a Void,” originally by Siouxsie and the Banshees, as another entertaining gem of a track.
Nargaroth — “Orgasmatron” (Motörhead)
Nargaroth has performed Motörhead’s “Orgasmatron” live in the past. An instrumental version appears as “Outro — Nortam Sagro” on some versions of the demo Fuck Off Nowadays Black Metal, though not the original from 2000.
“Orgasmatron” has also been reimagined by other bands, such as Satyricon.
Mayhem — “Commando” (The Ramones)
Mayhem caused quite a stir in 2021 with the EP Atavistic Black Disorder / Kommando. Somewhat surprisingly, Kommando features four punk covers by bands that have influenced Mayhem. This material was made possible due to extra time in the studio during the recording sessions for Daemon (2019). For these purposes, the band brought back their past vocalists Billy Messiah and Maniac to participate on this effort. Both men appear on the Dead Kennedys cover “Hellnation.” However, the show completely belongs to Billy on the Ramones’ “Commando.”
As the outro to Deathcrush (1987), Mayhem famously included a silly cover of “(All the Little Flowers Are) Happy” by The Young Ones. Apparently, Metalion of Slayer Mag even sang along on that little gem.
Apati — “Alkohol” (Lars Demian)
Apati completely rocked “Alkohol” by the Swedish troubadour Lars Demian. Although it was not a part of the original album, you can find this cover on most other versions of Eufori — Apati’s first of two albums, which debuted in 2009 without the track. Apati was one of the most memorable depressive black metal bands ever to spread their plague of addiction and misery. You can see why if you look at their lineup. Patient C, who you may know by his real name, Christian Larsson, would leave to join Shining. Tragically, co-founder Obehag withdrew from the band and overdosed shortly afterward. Thus, Apati came to an end in 2011. C9H13N would become Pessimisten in his next venture, Ofdrykkja. There was also a member Professor X, who was booted and then returned, but he only recorded one track.
Ajattara — “Syytön” (Nylon Beat)
The Finnish group Ajattara has cursed the world with four two-song Christmas singles. For at least the first three of these releases, Ajattara made an absurd tradition of including free ham vouchers in three copies courtesy of Spinefarm Records. The last three singles all contained one quirky cover track each. Ajattara eventually released their Christmas work on a compilation, Joululevy (2009), which means “Christmas album,” with four new tracks, including two new covers. “Syytön” was one of the fresh tracks. This pick is especially strange when you consider that the song was originally performed by a girl duo.
1349 — “Tornado” (Voivod)
This unexpected Voivod cover dropped in 2014. Keep in mind that 1349 feature Satyricon’s Frost on drums, ex-Funeral’s Archaon on guitar, ex-Den Saakaldte Seidemann’s on bass, and Ravn on vocals. 1349 has also put their unique spin on Bauhaus and Pink Floyd among other bands.
Mork — “Power from Hell” (Onslaught)
Mork, the brainchild of Thomas Eriksen, is a one-man band from Halden. Mork’s cover of “Power from Hell” by the British thrashers Onslaught is the final song on Mork’s glorious debut album, Isebakke (2013). I personally can’t live without Mork’s two miraculous covers of the BM classic “Valen,” which Eriksen has accurately described as one of the most beautiful songs ever written. Keep an eye out for Mork’s sixth album, Dypet, which will be released on March 24 via the legendary Peaceville Records.
Vreid — “Noen å Hate” (Raga Rockers)
Vreid emerged after Windir was laid to rest following the death of the group’s mastermind, Valfar. Like Shining, Vreid has covered Seigmen, but they chose to reimagine “Skjebnen.” Last year, Vreid released a music video to accompany their reinterpretation of The Rolling Stones’ “Paint it Black.” Today, however, we are choosing to share their recording of “Noen å hate” — a lovely song about beating people up that was originally performed by the Norwegian rock band Raga Rockers.
Mütiilation — “My Way” (Frank Sinatra)
It’s a damn shame that Meyhna’ch put an end Mütiilation in 2017. This would not be the first time that this French outfit disbanded. Thus, there may just be hope of an eventual return. Formed in 1991, other musicians were involved in Mütiilation in the mid- and early ’90s, but the group soon became Meyhna’ch’s one-man project.
Mütiilation’s exciting twist on Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” can be found on the split From the Entrails to the Dirt (2005), which was shared with Antaeus, Deathspell Omega, and Meyhna’ch’s Malicious Secrets. “My Way” is the perfect tune to suit a great champion of individualism such as the irreplaceable Mr. Meyhna’ch himself.
Carpathian Forest — “All My Friends Are Dead” (Turbonegro)
The legendary Carpathian Forest has made the surprising decisions to record Discharge and The Cure. Their version of the latter band’s “A Forest” is particularly excellent. However, we would like to share a live performance of Turbonegro’s “All My Friends Are Dead” from 2009 featuring frontman Nattefrost’s son. Carpathian Forest’s studio version of the track can be found on the two-song EP Likeim (2018).
“All My Friends Are Dead” was originally performed by the late icon Hank von Helvete / Hank von Hell. Few may know this, but Darkthrone’s Fenriz actually consumed the great frontman in gingerbread form for Norway’s Jernverket shortly before the former Turbonegro vocalist’s death; Hank lives on within.
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