One of the many brilliant things about Queen was that they could do everything. Epic hard rock anthems, slick pop gems, grandstanding ballads, sweaty disco-funk workouts, playful ragtime jazz, batshit crazy operatic bombast – it was all in the mix. Hell, they could even crush it as hard as any metal band when the fancy took them.
Metal has certainly embraced Freddie Mercury and co down the years, with everyone from Rob Halford to James Hetfield citing their influence. Here are 10 metal bands who have paid tribute by covering some of Queen’s biggest hits and deepest cuts.
Metallica - Stone Cold Crazy
The 100mph Stone Cold Crazy from 1975’s Sheer Heart Attack album has been cited as an influence on thrash metal – something Metallica acknowledged when they covered it at 1992’s Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert. ’Tallica beefed up the sound of the original, and James Hetfield’s grease-monkey snarl is a world away from Mercury’s breathless vocal, but it’s an otherwise on-the-money version.
Testament – Dragon Attack
Further proof that thrashers really loved Queen. Bay Area bangers Testament turned this heavy-funk number from 1979’s The Game into a blast of wah-wah-soaked thrash’n’roll on their own 2012 album Dark Roots Of Earth, dragging it out of the discotheque and into the mosh pit. Cute nod to We Will Rock You at the end too.
Nine Inch Nails - Get Down Make Love
Get Down Make Love is an outlier in Queen’s 70s catalogue - a sweaty, throbbing, panting ode to shagging that was practically reaching for a post-coital cigarette as soon as it finished. Perfect fodder for Nine Inch Nails major domo Trent Reznor, who turned it into a glitchy electro-goth anthem custom-made for soundtracking couples’ night at the local S&M dungeon.
Corrosion of Conformity – Son And Daughter
Queen were never heavier than on their self-titled 1973 debut– and in particular this crushing slab of proto-doom, driven by a riff that would have done Tony Iommi proud. Corrosion Of Conformity nailed it perfectly on 2018’s No Cross No Crown album, bringing a touch of southern rock to the original’s concrete-encased density. We’ve got producer John Custer to thank – he’d apparently been urging the band to do it for years before they finally caved in.
Laibach – Geburt Einar Nation
Aka One Vision, Queen’s mid-80s plea for global unity in the face of the Cold War, here transformed by Slovenian provocateurs Laibach into a totalitarian anthem sung entirely in German. The poker-faced delivery is simultaneously hilarious and terrifying, though the sound of singer Milan Fras giving it the full Freddie Mercury – “Ja! Ja! Jawohl!” – is comedy gold.
Between The Buried And Me – Bicycle Race
Prog? Yep, Queen did that too – what’s Bohemian Rhapsody if not a multi-part progressive rock epic? Prog-metal wizards Between The Buried And Me recognised that, with their cover of 1978’s mad-as-a-box-of-bollocks art-pop hit Bicycle Race, recreating it right down to the chorus of ringing bells that sits where a guitar solo normally would.
Blind Guardian - Spread Your Wings
Every power metal band owes a debt to Queen and their aura of grandiosity. Blind Guardian paid back the debt with their faithful cover of this billowing 1977 track, written by bassist John Deacon. It sounds like Queen’s take on a Broadway anthem, decades before the We Will Rock You musical was a thing.
Melvins – Best Friend
Trust art-metal’s leading contrarians to swerve the obvious anthems and go for Queen’s soft-centred 1975 hit You’re My Best Friend instead. Recorded for 2013’s Everybody Loves Sausages covers album, it finds Buzz Osborne passing the microphone to guest singer Caleb Benjamin, while the original’s lilting electric piano is swapped out for cheesy 8-bit blips. It might sound ironic, but it actually comes from a place of love – Buzz has described Queen “as a band that we always looked up to.”
Anthrax - It’s Late
OK, it’s not strictly Anthrax – just then-singer John Bush, guitarist Scott Ian and a bunch of ringers roped in for one of those low-rent ‘Tribute To…’ albums. But 1977’s blockbusting It’s Late – an electrifying tale of a one-stand night that oozes sexual tension from every pore - is the greatest Queen song no one ever talks about, and this magnificent version almost matches the original pound for pound, despite Bush’s rough-around-the-edges vocals.
Bad News – Bohemian Rhapsody
Sure, we could have gone for Puscifer’s ironically straight version from 2013’s Donkey Punch The Night EP, but spoof metallers Bad News’ chaotic, atonal, deliberately awful cover trumps everything - partly because it was produced by Brian May, but mainly because a song as overblown and omnipresent as Bohemian Rhapsody deserves to have the piss ripped out of it once in a while.