Virtually every musical genre owes a massive debt to The Beatles, and metal is no exception. You might not hear it amid the volume, but the Fab Four’s sense of adventure and peerless way with a tune has trickled down to the decades to influence countless metal bands, many of whom have repaid the debt by covering Liverpool’s finest with varying degrees of success. We’ve gone through the thousands out there and whittled it down to the 10 best.
Ghost – Here Comes The Sun (2010)
Go beyond the masks and Satanic schtick, and Ghost’s Tobias Forge wears his love of The Beatles on his voluminous velvet sleeves. Originally available as a bonus track on the Japanese edition of Opus Eponymous, here he takes the gentle, wide-eyed optimism of The Beatles’ original 1969 track and turns into a spooky, organ-driven slice of music-box weirdness.
Mötley Crüe – Helter Skelter (1983)
The heaviest song The Beatles ever wrote and the most famous heavy metal Beatles cover of them all. Mötley Crüe covered the Charles Manson-inspiring White Album track for 1983’s Shout At The Devil, giving it a lipstick’n’Aquanet makeover while retaining its neanderthal wallop. Vince Neil and Nikki Sixx struggle to match Paul McCartney’s vocals and bass-playing respectively, but then that’s what give Crüe’s version its punk-metal charm.
Type O Negative – Day Tripper Medley (1999)
A band so indebted to The Beatles they were nicknamed ‘The Drab Four’, Type O Negative covered several Lennon and McCartney songs live during their career, including Magical Mystery Tour, Back In The USSR and You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away. But the only one they laid down in the studio was this three-part medley, recorded for 1999’s World Coming Down, which sandwiched the sitar-laden psychedelia of Rubber Soul track If I Needed Someone between sludgy versions of breezy 1996 single Day Tripper and Abbey Road number I Want You (She’s So Heavy).
Helloween – All My Loving (1999)
German power metal overlords Helloween dialled back the operatics for this version of The Beatles’ cheery 1963 track. And while they take liberties with both the double-time bassline and trebly, distorted guitars, it still remains faithful to the original. Plus there‘s a Hamburg connection: Helloween’s home city is where a pre-fame Beatles earned their spurs in the early 60s.
Trouble - Tomorrow Never Knows (1995)
With its early examples of sampling and tape manipulation, the song that closed The Beatles’ 1966 album Revolver was arguably the first major psychedelic song. Doom legends Trouble adhered to its acid-soaked spirit with their 1995 update, cranking up the guitars but otherwise retaining its trippy ambience.
Bathory - I'm Only Sleeping (1998)
Extreme metal has tended to steer away from The Beatles over the years, for obvious reasons. The notable exception is Bathory, whose frontman Quorthon was a huge fan of the band. The black metal pioneers served up an unexpected acoustic version of Sgt. Pepper chestnut on 1998 compilation Black Mark Tribute Vol. 2 – though anyone expecting Satanic screams or Viking anthems will be disappointed: this stays surprisingly close to the original.
Soundgarden – Come Together
Aerosmith turned in a faithful if pharmaceutical-fuelled take on the Abbey Road album opener in the late 70s, but Soundgarden twisted it into a gnarly new shapes with their 1989 version. Dank and grinding, this is exactly what you’d expect from a pre-breakthrough Chris Cornell and company.
Neurotica – Eye Am The Walrus (2002)
The original I Am The Walrus was a slice of prime 1967 psychedelia complete with surreal John Lennon imagery (“I am the Egg-man?” Oh, are you really?). Cult Florida band Neurotica gave it a heavy, nu metal-ish makeover that worked way better than it should have. Plus frontman Kelly Schaefer’s vocals sounded way more threatening than the original.
Pain – Eleanor Rigby (2002)
Eleanor Rigby was the original goth song: a spooky, string-laden tale of a lonely women who keeps “her face in a jar by the door” then, well, dies. Pain mainman Peter Tagtgren dispensed with minimalism in favour of a grinding walls of guitars and a techno-inspired rhythm. Probably not what Paul McCartney imagined when he wrote it, but effective, nonetheless.
Coroner – I Want You (She’s So Heavy) (1991)
The original 1969 version of I Want You (She’s So Heavy) felt like a slice of proto-doom metal, with its ringing arpeggios and snail’s-pace chorus. Swiss prog-thrash pioneers Coroner clearly recognised this, when they recorded a cover for 1991’s Mental Vortex album, adding layers of distortion and a double-bass kick to the conclusion.