One of the many brilliant things about Queen was that they could do it all. Epic hard rock anthems, slick pop gems, awe-inspiring ballads, sweaty disco-funk workouts, playful ragtime jazz, crazy opera bombs – it was all in the mix. Hell, they could even smash it as hard as any metal band when the mood took them.
Metal has certainly embraced Freddie Mercury and co over the years, with everyone from Rob Halford to James Hetfield citing their influence. Here are 10 metal bands who paid tribute by covering some of Queen’s biggest hits and deepest cuts.
The 100mph crazy stone cold from 1975 pure heart attack The album has been cited as an influence on thrash metal – something Metallica acknowledged when they covered it at the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert. “Tallica reinforced the sound of the original, and the monkey growl James Hetfield’s greasy is a world away from Mercury’s breathy voice, 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 1979 heavy-funk number The game in a blast of wah-soaked thrash’n’roll on their own 2012 album dark roots of the earth, dragging him out of the disco and into the mosh pit. Cute wink at we will Rock You at the end too.
Nine Inch Nails – Get Down, Make Love
Come down to make love is an outlier in Queen’s ’70s catalog – a sweaty, haunting, breathless ode to fucking that practically craved a post-coital cigarette as soon as it was over. Perfect fodder for Nine Inch Nails domo major Trent Reznor, who turned it into a glitchy electro-goth anthem tailor-made for the soundtrack couples night at the local S&M dungeon.
Compliance Corrosion – Son and Daughter
Queen has never been heavier than on its self-titled debut in 1973 – and in particular that crushing slab of proto-doom, driven by a riff that would have made Tony Iommi proud. Corrosion Of Conformity nailed it perfectly on 2018 No cross no crown album, bringing a touch of southern rock to the concrete density of the original. We have producer John Custer to thank – he had apparently been urging the band to do this for years before finally giving in.
Laibach – Nation Geburt Einar
A.k.a A 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 straight-faced delivery is both hilarious and terrifying, although vocalist Milan Fras’ sound gives it the full Freddie Mercury – “Ja! Yes ! Jawohl! – is comedy gold.
Between the buried and me – Cycle race
Program? Yes, Queen did too – what’s Bohemian Rhapsody if not a multi-part prog rock epic? Prog-metal wizards Between The Buried And Me have acknowledged that, with their cover of the crazy art-pop hit like a bullshit box from 1978’s Bicycle Race, recreating it down to the chorus of bells ringing where a lead guitar normally would.
Blind Guardian – Spread Your Wings
Every power metal band owes a debt to Queen and her aura of greatness. Blind Guardian repaid the debt with their faithful cover of this bloated 1977 track, which was the closest Freddie Mercury had ever written a full-fledged Broadway number.
Melvins – Best Friend
Trust the main naysayers of art-metal to deflect the obvious anthems and go for Queen’s sweet 1975 hit You are my best friend In place. Registered for the years 2013 Everybody loves sausages covers the album, it finds Buzz Osborne passing the mic to guest vocalist Caleb Benjamin, while the singing electric piano from the original is replaced with cheesy 8-bit blips. It may sound ironic, but it actually comes from a place of love – Buzz described Queen “as a band we’ve always looked up to”.
Anthrax – It’s late
OK, it’s not strictly Anthrax – just then-vocalist John Bush, guitarist Scott Ian and a bunch of ringers roped in for one of those cheap “Tribute To…” albums. But the 1978 blockbuster It’s late – an electrifying tale of a one-night stand that oozes sexual tension from every pore – is Queen’s greatest song no one ever talks about, and this gorgeous version almost matches the original pound-for-pound, despite the brutal side of Bush’s voice.
Bad News – Bohemian Rhapsody
Of course, we could have opted for the ironically straight version of Puscifer from 2013 Donkey Punch at night EP, but the chaotic, atonal, deliberately awful cover of Bad News parody metalheads trumps it all – partly because it was produced by Brian May, but mostly because a song as over-the-top and ubiquitous as Bohemian Rhapsody deserves to be pissed out of him once in a while.