11 great metal covers of classic grunge songs | Revolver

11 great metal covers of classic grunge songs

Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Soundgarden and more — done heavier
machine head nirvana SPLIT GETTY, Gary Wolstenholme/Redferns (Machine Head) and Kevin Mazur/WireImage (Nirvana)
photography by Gary Wolstenholme/Redferns (Machine Head) and Kevin Mazur/WireImage (Nirvana)

A list of grunge songs being covered by metal bands is admittedly a little strange given that several architects of grunge (Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and the Melvins, for instance) could be described as metal bands themselves. The strain of hard-rock music that emerged from Seattle in the late Eighties and exploded in the early Nineties certainly has sonic roots in the fuzzed-addled dirges of Black Sabbath, the guitar heroism of Led Zeppelin and the scuzzy punk-metal lurches of Black Flag's My War (itself an ode to Sabbath-ian doom). But grunge was a scene, not just a sound, and one that stood diametrically opposed to the popular "metal" of the time, specifically, the hair and glam variants of the style.

That said, grunge paved the way for a new breed of heavy music to rule the airwaves, and many of the "alternative" metal bands that rose up in the wake of that revolution have gone on to make their favorite heavy grunge songs, well, heavier. From doom-metal renditions of Nirvana hits to metalcore remakes of Stone Temple Pilots anthems, here are 11 kickass metal covers of classic grunge songs.

Burn the Priest - "Honey Bucket"

Original band: Melvins
Burn the Priest (the name Lamb of God went by before making a slightly less blasphemous switch) took one of Melvins' all-time great songs and turned it from a wild and chaotic sludge bath into a tight and concise metal banger. Besides Randy Blythe's vocals, the big difference with Burn the Priest's version is how upfront Chris Adler's pummeling drumming is in the mix. This is the killer-cyborg upgrade.

Chimaira - "Outshined"

Original band: Soundgarden
Despite hailing from the Pacific Northwest, there's a real Southern swagger in Soundgarden's music, and Chimaira shrewdly left that intact in their brutally heavy cover of "Outshined." It basically sounds like a lost B-side from Pantera's Great Southern Trendkill era — pile-driving grooves, sandblasted vocals and a violent guitar attack.

The Dillinger Escape Plan - "Jesus Christ Pose"

Original band: Soundgarden
The Dillinger Escape Plan were never copycats, but on their 2006 covers EP, playfully titled Plagiarism, they absolutely crushed Soundgarden's iconic "Jesus Christ Pose." The cover isn't a mathcore tornado like DEP is infamous for, but a fairly loyal rendition with an antisocial edge. And by god, Greg Puciato actually hits those skyscraping Chris Cornell notes.

Eighteen Visions - "Down"

Original band: Stone Temple Pilots
Stone Temple Pilots' stompy, headbang-able "Down" is just begging for a heavy upgrade, and while a doom, sludge or stoner-metal cover would've been the easiest route to take, Eighteen Visions gave it an effective metalcore brush-up. The drums hit harder, the guitars are even dirtier and the layers of screamed vocals make the chorus bite harder than STP ever dared to. 

Evergreen Terrace - "Zero"

Original band: Smashing Pumpkins
The Smashing Pumpkins' all-timer "Zero" has an instantly recognizable metallic riff, and it actually translates really well into this metalcore reimagining. Evergreen Terrace turned Billy Corgan's inimitable vocals into harsh screams, but it's the guitar solo before the final chorus that creates the cover's best moment. 

Every Time I Die - "Tourettes"

Original band: Nirvana
"Tourettes" is one of Nirvana's most ferocious tracks, bringing Kurt Cobain's love for blazing punk rock into the otherwise mid-tempo In Utero. It makes all the sense in the world that Buffalo hardcore rascals Every Time I Die covered this song, and they gave it a killer run, both swaggering and maniacal in that signature ETID style.

Khemmis - "Down in a Hole"

Original band: Alice in Chains
Alice in Chains' "Down in a Hole" is a morose ballad about the doomed feeling of lost love. Khemmis flip it into an actual doom-metal song, playing up the haunting vocal wails and beefing out Jerry Cantrell's world-weary riffage in order to make it just as heavy sonically as the original is emotionally.

Machine Head - "Negative Creep"

Original band: Nirvana
Machine Head are super underrated for their covers, and their version of Nirvana's "Negative Creep" is one of their best. Frontman Robb Flynn utilized a bunch of contrasting vocal styles throughout the track, ultimately making this version of the Bleach ripper even more unpredictable, unnerving and unhinged than the original. 

Pitchshifter - "Touch Me I'm Sick"

Original band: Mudhoney
The debut single from grunge pioneers Mudhoney was a decisively loud, messy, guitar-centric rebuke of the stiff synthiness that dominated Eighties rock music. Ironically, Pitchshifter found a clever way to reshape it into a pulsing industrial-metal tune, perfect for nu-metal dance nights and playlists full of Ministry songs.

Torche - "In Bloom"

Original band: Nirvana
Nirvana's "In Bloom" is a catchy, mid-tempo jaunt with humongous power chords. Torche asked: What if the riffs were even fatter? The Floridian crew put a stonery, fuzz-blasted twist on the Nevermind single, slapping a little bit of reverb on the vocals but mostly keeping the arrangement as is. But just thickening those guitars and making the bass louder works wonders.

Thou - "Them Bones"

Original band: Alice in Chains
Thou have released entire albums of grunge covers, including one solely of Nirvana renditions. They're all great, but their Southern-fried sludge sounds best when it's dripping all over "Them Bones," the clattering opener to Alice in Chains' Dirt. It's never sounded this nasty — and it was pretty fucking nasty to begin with.