Pink Floyd are the biggest influence on metal that no one talks about. The British prog titans’ epic, widescreen music might seem a world away from metal’s fist-in-your-face approach, but their influence is detectable in any band who has gazed heavenwards (possibly with a massive spliff on the go).
Still, given how all-pervasive Floyd’s influences has been (1973’s The Dark Side Of The Moon has sold 92 zillion copies at the last count), it takes a band with sizeable cojones to take on of their song. Fortunately for us, several bands have no qualms about accepting the challenge.
From glossy, nu-metal upgrades to deranged, psychedelic freakouts, these are ten of the finest Floyd covers that the metal world has produced to date. The dark side of the dark side of the moon, if you will.
Kittie – Run Like Hell
Despite being routinely lumped in with nu-metal’s cavalcade of plucky also-rans, Kittie had more going for them than a few grubby riffs. The original version of Run Like Hell, from 1979’s batshit crazy The Wall album, was one of Floyd’s more abrasive moments. Kittie’s own take on it, is undeniably thuggish and primitive, but the Canadians attack the song with great intensity. When frontwoman Morgan Lander screams “They’re going to send you back to mother in a cardboard box!”, it’s with Roger Waters-levels of conviction.
Kylesa – Interstellar Overdrive
In many ways the perfect Floyd song to give the heavy treatment, Interstellar Overdrive (from the band’s spiral-eyed psychedelic 1968 debut album, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn) is a gift to bands with a freewheeling ethos. Kylesa have long been one of underground metal’s most imaginative bands, and their wildly trippy and impressively thunderous take on original Floyd leader Syd Barrett’s space rock classic is every bit as warped and wayward as the original.
Melvins – In The Flesh?
With a huge back catalogue that ranges from excoriating sludge metal to tripped-out campfire songs, Melvins can always be relied upon to do something weird with a cover. Unusually, their version of 1979’s scabrous In The Flesh? is fairly faithful to its blueprint, albeit with just enough Melvins wrongness to satisfy diehard fans of King Buzzo’s afro.
Korn – Another Brick In The Wall (Pts 1, 2 and 3)
Another band with a great love of covers, Korn have a knack for picking songs that fit snugly into their sonic world. Taking on Floyd’s biggest charting single, they simply upped the heaviness and added a dash of blank-eyed swagger. The full seven-minute version segues into Goodbye Cruel World, which must mean at least fifty extra prog points.
1349 – Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun
Much like Interstellar Overdrive, the menacingly trippy Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun is a gift to fans of enormous, lumbering riffs and mind-altering atmospherics. Best known as a blistering black metal band, Norway’s 1349 went fully bonkers on 2009’s Revelations Of The Black Flame, and this venomous dismantling of Floyd’s hippie mantra is the album’s most disorientating moment.
Voivod – The Nile Song
Voivod were way ahead of the game when it came to showcasing their Floyd fandom – the covered early Floyd classic Astronomy Domine on 1989’s Nothingface album. FIve years later, they followed it up with this cover of the prog icons’ heaviest song, transforming its breezeblock riffery into a untamed, unstoppable psych-metal squall.
Shadows Fall – Welcome To The Machine
Shadows Fall’s second album The Art Of Balance was widely acclaimed as an absolute belter. The record’s biggest surprise was this highly convincing re-working of a hypnotic highlight from FLoyd’s 1975 album Wish You Were Here. Special points are awarded for Jon Donais’ eminently tasteful guitar solo.
Crippled Black Phoenix – Echoes Pts 1 & 2
The epic, 23-minute closing track from Floyd’s 1971 album Meddle is a lava lamp in musical form. Taking their cues from the two-part version from the Live At Pompeii movie, cult British outfit Crippled Black Phoenix captured the original’s dislocated, otherworldly beauty, adding a female voice to the mix to give it a different feel.
Primus – Have A Cigar
Primus have always been big cheerleaders for progressive rock. They take a fairly straightforward approach with 1975’s music industry-mocking Have A Cigar, but the trio’s singular sound ensures that it ends up sounding like a Primus song anyway: funky, angular and irrevocably on-the-wonk.
Brutal Truth – Wish You Were Here
Arch saboteurs of the metal underground, Brutal Truth began as a lightning fast, grinding death metal band, before blossoming into something infinitely stranger and more experimental. The original title track of Floyd’s classic 1975 album is a short burst of summery bliss shot through with nostalgia for lost friends. Brutal Truth’s version starts off straight but, somewhat inevitably, veers off-track for two minutes of synapse-wrenching, extreme noise. Nutters.