Metallica cover versions are like London buses... you wait ages for one, and then two come at once. Since the band announced their intention to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of their blockbuster ‘Black Album’ with not just a mammoth expanded box set, but also a covers album, The Metallica Blacklist, featuring more than 50 artists putting their own unique spin on tracks from their 30 million-selling self-titled fifth album, there’s been a veritable deluge of Metallicaction afoot.
Last week we were treated to a triple whammy of Sad But True covers, by St. Vincent, Sam Fender and Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, so it was only a matter of time before another batch arrived. Sure enough, today we’ve been rewarded with a brace of covers of Holier Than Thou, one by Keith Morris’ LA punkers OFF!, the other by Scottish arena rock monsters Biffy Clyro. They sound nothing alike, naturally, but both have their idiosyncratic merits.
Musically, Biffy Clyro’s interpretation is the bolder of the two, with the Kilmarnock trio pulling apart James Hetfield’s riffs and putting a celestial, choral spin on the familiar chorus. Purists will doubtless be outraged, which should please the band’s resident shit-stirrers Lars Ulrich and Kirk Hammett, at least.
OFF!’s version is more predictable, being a thrashing hardcore punk take on the song, but Keith Morris’ band deserve kudos for the highly-entertaining accompanying six minute video, which sees The Jesus Lizard’s frontman David Yow as a preacher, and Fishbone frontman Angelo Moore as the group’s manager.