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Column/ Playlist - Florence + The METAL Machine - Are rock's pop covers ever any good?

Column/ Playlist - Florence + The METAL Machine - Are rock's pop covers ever any good?
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It happens in Hollywood all the time: a stone-cold classic gets the remake treatment. As we know, results vary greatly. Yet the urge to remake time-honoured gems is not solely the preserve of filmmakers, musicians can’t resist remodelling a classic act too, particularly not least heavy rockers, whose attempts to reach a wider audience often come in the form of a cover of a lauded pop tune. The hard-rock cannon has fired out many such reworkings, some great, some atrocious and some just plain weird, and now tech-metallers Periphery, joined by a whole host of similarly neighbour-infuriating bands, have stepped up to the pop-cover plate in a big way.

Joined by the likes of Stick To Your Guns, Born Of Osiris and Come The Dawn, an album made up entirely of heavy Florence + The Machine covers, entitled Sumerian Ceremonies By Florence + The Sphinx, is due for release on 13 May via progressive independent label Sumerian Records.

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“To me, Ceremonials by Florence + The Machine is one of the most timeless records to come out in years,” suggests Sumerian’s co-founder Ash Avildsen of the reasons behind this meeting of worlds. “The distinctive vocals and melodies, the orchestration and instrumentation, the production, the mood and the lyrics have made me enamored with the album. It is also one of the heaviest records in years to me… not in the sense of metal and aggressive vocals/guitars/drums, but in how the songs make you feel.”

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So how do these riffy reimaginings fare? Well Avildsen has a point. Ceremonies is certainly a heavy, distinctive album, but the songs themselves could definitely do without the heavy part being taken so literally… Here’s a Playlist of three riff-powered pop recasts that’ll make you throw devil horns, and three that’ll probably make you throw up.

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Three metal pop covers that work…

Metallica – Loverman

Metallica might want to forget about their 2011 collaboration with much-missed curmudgeon Lou Reed, but their cover of another tormented singer-songwriting legend (Nick Cave’s Loverman) is rocking enough to redeem them.

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Led Zeppelin – Dazed and Confused

This proto-metal classic is indeed a cover, which not only qualifies it for this list but also as a good pub quiz question, unless 60s singer-songwriter Jake Holmes’ publishers are on the opposite team.

Marilyn Manson – Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)

While self-styled The God Of Fuck’s cover of Tainted Love left a lot to be desired, his dark-hearted reimagining of the Eurythmics’ single is genuinely creepy in a way that Marilyn Manson should be creepy.

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…And here’s three songs rock should have left well alone

Van Halen – Dancing In The Street

Motown goes metal? That idea was probably best off left behind in the board room where it was concocted.

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Machine Head – Message In A Bottle

We really do need to send out an SOS after hearing this heavy-handed cover.

Fear Factory – Cars

LA industrial metallers Fear Factory gave Gary Numan’s bionic anthem a new lick of paint. They enlisted Numan himself to help them pimp his ride. Was there much of an improvement? Of course not.

Jamie Skey@jamie_skey


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