10 raging metal covers of classic 80s aggro-punk songs

GBH and SLayer
(Image credit: Mick Hutson/Redferns)

Punk changed everything in the 1970s, and the impact of Ramones, Sex Pistols, The Clash and more can still be felt today. But for many metal bands, it was the second wave of UK punk that proved to be most influential. Led by spiky-haired riotstarters such as The Exploited, GBH, Discharge and Anti-Nowhere League, this scene – later dubbed UK82 after an Exploited song – ramped up the aggro on record and onstage. In subsequent years, everyone from Metallica and Slayer to Mike Patton’s Mr Bungle have paid tribute via killer covers. Here are 10 of the best…

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Metallica – So What

Originally released as the B-side to The Unforgiven, Metallica’s beefed-up take on the Anti-Nowhere League’s explicit anthem earned them a ban from MTV when they played it at the 1996 Europe Music Awards. Punk AF.

Slayer & Ice-T – Disorder

Hip hop and metal collided on the Judgment Night OST, but Slayer and Ice-T threw some spicy UK82 into the mix with a triple-serving of Exploited’s War, UK82 and Disorder blended into one thrash supercut. 

Napalm Death – War’s No Fairytale

Napalm Death laid the crust on thick with their gloriously rampant cover of Discharge’s War’s No Fairytale. Possibly the only band that could be nearly as sonically repulsive as the original. 

Mr. Bungle – USA

Mr. Bungle’s first single in 21 years was a surprisingly straight-laced cover of The Exploited classic USA, with Mike Patton drafting in Dave Lombardo and Scott Ian for extra thrash points.

Anthrax – Protest And Survive

It turns out if you chuck Anthrax at a Discharge cover, the end result sounds like something more in keeping with Sepultura or Slayer: all muscular grooves and neck-breaking beats. 

Machine Head – The Possibility Of Life’s Destruction

How do you make Machine Head sound even heavier and more incendiary? By letting them loose on a Discharge cover, of course – Robb Flynn breaking out his best Cal Morris impression.

Destruction – City Baby Attacked By Rats

Proof that the dividing line between thrash and UK82 is almost nonexistent, Teutonic thrashers Destruction’s take on the GBH classic basically changes nothing and still feels incendiary. 

Benediction – Seeing Through My Eyes

Members of Benediction were part of the original UK82 scene, and their death metal rendition of Broken Bones’ Seeing Through My Eyes shone a spotlight on their roots.  

Slayer – Sick Boy

Slayer are no strangers to speed, but they’ve never sounded snottier or more anarchic than on this GBH cover, a bonus track on their ’96 covers album, Undisputed Attitude.

Hypocrisy – They Lie

Sweden’s Hypocrisy might be best known for their low’n’slow melodic death metal, but their cover of The Exploited’s They Lie is a blistering blitzkrieg that does the Scottish band proud. 

Rich Hobson

Staff writer for Metal Hammer, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online, be it legendary events like Rock In Rio or Clash Of The Titans or seeking out exciting new bands like Nine Treasures, Jinjer and Sleep Token.