Theme Thursday: Iron Maiden Covers

There are a lot Iron Maiden covers out there, and the vast majority of them, while in great intentions, straight up suck.  I’m not trying to bash a bands talent, but Iron Maiden is a tough band to cover, I’ve tried and their songs ain’t easy, especially when you factor in just how great Maiden gets it the first time around.  It seems that many bands struggle capturing the feel of the original they are covering or stray to far from the spirit of the song that it just doesn’t work at all.  Here I have made a list of some Iron Maiden covers that I feel do the original tons of justice.  Some are straight up covers, some completely rework the song, but all of them are great.  Enjoy and if you know of some above average Iron Maiden covers don’t hesitate to share.  Peace Love and Metal!!!

Machine Head – Hallowed Be Thy Name

Starting with the strongest foot forward, Machine Head’s rendition of my all time favorite Maiden song is one of the best covers they have ever done and the best Iron Maiden cover I’ve heard.  While still keeping true to the original they inject the Machine Head flavor to it.  Robb Flynn’s vocals don’t attempt to reach the range of Bruce’s and his rawer voice fits the theme of the song perfectly.  He is able to send the song into overdrive when he adds a short harsh vocal section at the perfect moment when the lines “Mark my word, the soul lives on…” part kicks in.  Chills man.  The guitar tone is quite different from the original but fits the song wonderfully and playing is matched only by Maiden themselves.  The galloping bass of Adam Duce is a great homage to Steve Harris and again, while the tone is different, it really fits the song.  Check it out.  Original here.

Opeth – Remember Tomorrow

With Opeth’s version of Remember Tomorrow you get Mikael’s soft ethereal vocals which add a haunting feel to the whole song almost making it feel like a different beast.  Of course Mikael doesn’t have the Bruce Dickinson vocals to live up to as the song is one of Maiden’s earlier tracks with the punkier Paul Di’Anno on the mic, but he really does add a lot more to the track.  The bass is great and how they rip that first solo is just great.  I love the tone that they used. Original here.

Ryan Adams – Wasted Years

OK, time to start with some of the covers that took a bit of a departure from the original.  Very close to topping Machine Head’s cover is alt-country musician Ryan Adam’s acoustic cover of Wasted Years.  What he does with this tune is simply magical.  While still capturing the positive feeling of the original he weaves somberness and sadness into the track.  I also love how he arranged the song for acoustic guitar.  This stripped down version just adds so much more emotion to the original, I love it.  Original here.

Zwan – The Number of the Beast

Here’s another great acoustic Iron Maiden cover.  In this one, the melancholic tone of the song really changes the meaning of what The Number of the Beast is about.  Original it was just a fun song about demons and monsters, Zwan’s version takes it to a more cerebral and personal level.  The fact that it was originally featured in the opening credit of the film Spun also helped drive this arrangements new point home, as the movie was a dark (and way f’d up) tale of crystal meth addiction.  If anyone is curious, yes Zwan is Billy Corgan’s (Smashing Pumpkins) side project, but that is not him on vocals on this tune, it is the guitarist Matt Sweeney.  Original here.

Van Canto – Fear of the Dark

This band just cracks me up.  With straight faces they do near a capella covers of metal songs and each one is great.  This cover of Fear of the Dark is no exception.  Along with the rum dum digga dum digga dum the lead vocals are great and I really like the inclusion of the female lead parts as well as the female hum doing harmony parts.  A great sing-along tune.  Original here.

Dream Theater – To Tame a Land

If you are a consistent Dream Theater concert goer/bootleg collector you are well aware of their unannounced concerts where they choose a classic metal album to cover in its entirety.  I was lucky enough to see them play Master of Puppets, which is one album the choose the night they decided to do one of these special evening in NYC.  It was great, but there is one other record I would have liked to see them play more, and that would be Number of the Beast, the bootleg is great if you can find it, but if you run a search on Youtube you can find the whole thing easily enough.  Anyhoo, the prog metal masters also are big fans of other Maiden albums and songs and of all their Iron Maiden cover their version of To Tame a Land is their best one.  I love the inclusion of the sitar and how awesome John Petrucci handles the insane soloing.  Mike Pornoy’s drumming has enough energy and punch to it to match Nicko McBrain’s original tracks and at times I think that Steve Harris should be taking a couple of lessons from John Myung.  I also like how James LaBrie doesn’t try to force himself to match Bruce’s vocals and takes a bit of a backseat letting the rest of Dream Theater go wild with the tune.  Original here.

Rhapsody of Fire – Flash of the Blade

Fabio Leone really nails the vocals in this one matching Bruce’s amazing range and power.  No small feat.  I like how the cheese-whizzards ham things up with the orchestral keyboard inclusion and Luca Turilli rips the solo apart adding his own stylistic touches to it.  Original here.

Coheed and Cambria – The Trooper

The Trooper is one of Maiden’s most well know songs, if not the most.  The iconic riff and the always fun to sing along to whaoooo ooooo oooooo ooo eh ooooooh part are required metal history.  Many many bands have covered this song ranging from atrocious to not to shabby, but of all the covers of it out there my favorite one is Co&Ca version.  What makes this is Claudio Sanchez’s unique voice.  His high registers fit the song great and he nails the iconic wonderfully and in his own way.  You really have to give it to the rest of the band to for nailing this song note for note too.  Original here.

Sonata Arctica – Die With Your Boots On

NWOBHM and power metal aren’t altogether very different, but they are quite different enough to certainly warrant the 2 separate genre tags.  Iron Maiden is the archetypical NWOBHM band and Sonata Arctica are the same in the realm of power metal.  With Die With Your Boots on they bring the tune to power metal rules and kick ass with it and it’s also fun to see the differences between the 2 genres when you compare these two songs side by side.  And it’s a great cover.  Original here.


About RiffRaff

Just takin' it easy for all you sinners.

Posted on May 10, 2012, in Metal Lists, Theme Thursday and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. This is a great collection for someone, like me, who has never been into Iron Maiden, but love all the bands above 🙂

  2. Hey, some great choices here. I was previously familiar with the MH and DT covers and some of the others are as good if not better. I really like how Ryan Adams and Zwan strip the songs down, and Opeth’s take on Remember Tomorrow is pretty cool as well. I want to like C & C but something about Claudio Sanchez’s voice really grates on me, which is weird ‘cos I like other hi-pitch singers like Geddy Lee, Jon Anderson, Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Roger Hogson.

    The DT cover is still my favourite, I think. I guess you’ve got the bonus disc from BC&SL – their versions of Larks’ Tongues In Aspic (pt 2) by King Crimson and the Queen medley are brilliant too!!

    • Ya, a lot of people don’t seem to like Claudio’s voice. C&C is a love em hate type thing I guess.
      Yup, I got the DT cover from BCSL, it was a nice little surprise. And that Lark’s Tongue cover is just smashing. I particularly like the covers one the Change of Seasons EP. Their Perfect Strangers is great as well as the medley on that one.

  3. Some great covers here. If I played an instrument I would want to learn Maiden. If I were in a band I would like to play their songs as well. I wonder if they are flattered by so many artists wanted to cover their music?

    The Machine Head cover still blows me away. Speaking of covers. Have you ever in your life heard a band cover Megadeth? Has anyone done that? Maybe I missed out on that.

    Great post and awesome covers!

    • I would imagine that they are flattered. They have written some of the most iconic metal songs ever released. They also have their share of covers too (follow up theme maybe).
      I know how to butcher Train of Consequences, I guess you can call that a Megadeth cover, lol. Off the top of my head, I think I may have heard a Hanger 18 cover, but can’t remember who did it and Arch Enemy did Symphony of Destruction.

  4. @Matt, cool selection! I love the Machine Head one. Have you heard Dark Tranquillity doing 22 Acacia Ave.? Very funny cover.

    @Reggie, I know that a small Canadian death metal band called Burning Caskets did Wake Up Dead, but not really any of the more established acts (at least in my iTunes).

    • Ya, I’ve heard that Dark Tranquility cover, it’s not too bad, but something about exclusive harsh vocals on a Maiden cover irks me. Maybe I’ve heard all the originals so much, but I like cleaner vocals on my Maiden covers. The Machine Head one shows how harsh vocals can be used in a Maiden cover perfectly.

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