From brass bands and folk singers to lullaby writers and sitarists, there's no shortage of non-metal musicians that have taken a turn at reworking the heavy-metal classics that we all know and love. But narrowing down the best of the best is the hard part, which is why we posed the question to you: What is the single greatest non-metal cover of a metal song? See what you chose in the ranked list below.
One of the coolest things is when an artist successfully reworks a song into an entirely different genre, which (in the best cases) further reveals the songwriting strength of the original composition. Cake's take on the Black Sabbath epic "War Pigs" whittles down the original to about four minutes, and adds a mean bassline between all the guitar flourishes. Cake also manage to work in a bit of their sense of humor, too, by adding an insanely ridiculous trumpet to the main riff to simulate a siren sound. It's far different than the original, but a good homage that still embodies Sabbath's message.
When approaching Iron Maiden songs your average music listener might not immediately focus on the band's lyrics. But not Ryan Adams, who puts a spotlight on just how good of a lyric writer Bruce Dickinson is (and how well the band writes melodies) with his cover of "Wasted Years." It's a full acoustic take on the original, and turns its killer riff into something surprisingly tender and vulnerable. Adams' croon over the guitar work situates the track firmly in the folk-song realm, and his voice embodies Dickinson's original sentiments of regret and alienation.
Let's face it, at its core Black Sabbath's 1972 ballad "Changes" is far from your typical Sab jam — more like a full-on heartbreaking pop song if say the Carpenters or Carole King or some other contemporary got a hold of it. As such, singer Charles Bradley's version of the track takes the pop and injects a heavy, heavy dose of soul, which rearranges the DNA into a full-blown R&B classic.
In 2001 singer-songwriter Tori Amos unveiled her stunning take on Slayer's classic "Raining Blood," which takes the evil vibes of the original to frightening new levels. The 1986 original is a damn-near perfect encapsulation of heavy metal, with a sinister-as-hell riff and Tom Araya spewing complete darkness. Amos completely re-imagines this darkness and distills Araya's lyrics and the band's main riff into a subdued haunting experience. The cover truly does sound like it was written for the end times, her voice casting a long shadow over the brooding pianos and chilling atmosphere.
With the help of famed producer Rick Rubin, in 2002 country star Johnny Cash dropped the final album released in his lifetime: American IV: The Man Comes Around. The majority of the record contained minimalist reworkings of popular cover songs, including Nine Inch Nail's 1994 classic "Hurt." Trent Reznor's original was written about the throes of addiction, and the residual shame in any wasted soul as they find themselves, once again, lying to friends and family. Cash pruned the profanity, (changing "crown of shit" to the far more pious "crown of thorns,") and delivered an absolute haymaker of gothic Americana. His was about death, and how all the accolades in the world don't mean nothing when you feel the lights shutting off. Rubin drained everything out of the mix save for an adrift guitar, piano and an insurrectionist "A Day in the Life"-like orchestral rumble at the climax. Thank god the Man in Black had one last classic on the way out.