Metallica played Iron Maiden classic Prowler during the Black Album tour, and it’s the best cover they never recorded

Footage of Metallica performing live in 1992 and a photo of Iron Maiden's debut album
(Image credit: kryptory via YouTube | EMI)

Metallica love a good cover. The biggest band in heavy metal history have recorded a grand total of 40 in their four-decade-plus career, and that doesn’t even include the many others they’ve performed as live one-offs over the years. Redos like Whiskey In The Jar and Turn The Page are now just as associated with the Four Horsemen as their original artists – however, one of the band’s best-ever reinterpretations has criminally become lost to time.

At one San Francisco stop during the Black Album tour in 1992, Metallica preceded a performance of Master Of Puppets with a quick jam of Iron Maiden’s Prowler (footage of which is embedded below). The song, which opened Maiden’s 1980 self-titled album and featured ex-vocalist Paul Di’Anno, is a seedy metal number that introduced many to the band’s punky yet progressive ways. Then, in the hands of James Hetfield and the boys, it became a gravelly thrasher that sounded even more aggressive and sordid.

Papa Het’s raspy vocals make Di’Anno’s lecherous lyrics – “See the ladies flashing all their legs and lashes, I’ve just got to find my way!” – sound even more threatening. Meanwhile, the sharp lead guitar line is perfectly tackled by Kirk Hammett and his wah-wah pedal, as Jason Newsted and Lars Ulrich give the old-school stomper a fresh speed metal verve.

Metallica never played Prowler live again as far as we know (there’s no reference to it anywhere on setlist database, and they certainly didn’t record a version of it either. Considering the band’s penchant for putting their snarling metal stamp on other artists’ material, it’s a crying shame. It certainly had all the intensity and catchiness to become the next Am I Evil? given the chance.

Currently, Maiden don’t even perform Prowler live. The last time they did, according to, was in 2005, during a tour where the band exclusively played material from their first four albums: Iron Maiden, Killers, The Number Of The Beast and Piece Of Mind. It begs the question, why does nobody want to do anything with this absolute banger of a song?!

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.