Mark: Last week’s post featuring only one “Of Wolf And Man” was a breeze. Another short one here, with only two covers of “The God That Failed”, a song that I have less than no memory of. Then next week, another short-ish one. Then the week after that, we’ll finish this up!
Getting close to the end, Jay. I regret having started this!
Jay: I don’t really remember this one, either. I do like some stuff from Idles, though, so I’m curious to see what we’re going to get here! Let’s see what can be done with this deeper cut.
IDLES – “The God That Failed”
Mark: I have a feeling that this is a major departure from the Metallica original. Because this is great.
I was super into IDLES a few years ago, but wasn’t hot on their last album. They’ve got a new one that I need to check out and it will hopefully [Editor Jay notes that Mark just left the end of this sentence hanging, which isn’t promising, haha.)
This doesn’t sound like Metallica at all. It sounds like a pretty solid IDLES song. Great pumping rhythm, terrific guitar racket, British guy shouting at me from his porch. I love how ramshackle the performance is, and this might now be the second-best punk Metallica cover on the whole 60+ track collection.
Most days (all days?) I would rather listen to a great song or album under the punk umbrella than anything off of The Black Album. I have my doubts that I will like Metallica’s version of “The God That Failed” more than this one.
Jay: Wait, Mark already put in my grade below! Haha, Mark thinks I’ll give this a B+! Second typo in one song. We’re falling apart here with all these Metallica covers.
But really I dig this version, especially the chorus. Great production, too. If you were to just tell me it was an Idles song, I’d believe you; I hear no Metallica here whatsoever. Still, it does feel like something is missing from the structure of it, or from the dynamics, or both. In other words, Mark’s prediction was right and I do think this is a solid B+.
Grade: A (Mark), B+ (Jay)
Imelda May – “The God That Failed”
Mark: I like the bass & drum groove that kicks this off, but it loses me as soon as the guitar comes in. I guess when it was just the bass and drums, the song could have gone anywhere from there. Once the guitars came in, it became apparent that we’re in for a “hard rock” version of this song. This kind of classic “hard rock” sound is… maybe one of my least favourite branches of rock music?
This cover sounds extremely dated to me. Like something that crawled out of a late 80s beer commercial. This is definitely what people who do not like heavy music think that heavy music is supposed to sound like.
The credited artist is the vocalist and her performance is definitely kind of like… a middle aged person performing on a variety show or something. Nothing spectacular, and it doesn’t really fit, within a cover that already sounds kind of strained and uncomfortable.
I can’t speak to how faithful this cover is to the Metallica, but I can speak to how pleasing this is to my earholes.
Jay: Mark is pretty spot-on in his assessment, in my opinion. Solid start with the bass and drums, and in fact, they’re enjoyable all throughout. But there’s too much lifeless blues-rock/hard-rock in the rest of the production, from the guitar to the vocals. The plethora of voices during the choruses just makes matters worse. And then there’s some inexplicable laser beam / video game sounds!
There’s probably a way to subvert the most cliched turns in blues rock, but it’s not on display here. It’s a spirited performance that somehow leaves me feeling absolutely nothing about it.
And strangely, I can’t even hear the common song between this and the Idles track! Let’s get to the original and see which (if either) is closer to the Hets and the Mets’ original vision.
Metallica – “The God That Failed” (Remastered)
Mark: Oh, this one starts off with a bass and drums sequence too. Sounds better here than in the last song, and the guitars are nice and riff-y and crunchy, which distracts from the fact that the main guitar figure kind of is just a more metallic version of a hard rock bar band riff. It’s not great, but it’s not the worst.
You can sing the verse from “Sad But True” overtop of the verse of this song. That’s not a good sign. Too many songs in this mode on The Black Album. That bass-snare stomp is getting real tired at this point.
One thing that I’ve noticed about a lot of these songs (and a lot of later Metallica songs, now that I think of it) is a similarity that they have with Country & Western (and modern Country music). They all seem to have a “punchline” lyric (usually the song title) that the song circles back to in kind of a “haha there it is!” moment. The lyrical content is darker than it would be in Country music, but the function is the same. This song isn’t Metallica’s most egregious example of this (that would probably come with “WHERE’S YER CROWN, KING NOTHING?!”), but it’s kinda interesting. Hetfield is a super super traditional songwriter, if you think about it.
Anyway, it took me the whole song to type that and now the song is over. This song doesn’t do anything that other songs on this record have already done way better. I think it would probably be the most easily cut song on the record, if you had to cut a song.
Then again, I really didn’t like “Of Wolf And Man”. I think that “Of Wolf And Man” is actually a more interesting failure than this, though, and this one is just kind of boring.
Jay: I like the riff when it drops to the low note on the guitar each, and the rumbling of the bass, but I have to agree with Mark that this particular drum motif has outstayed its welcome.
I think the biggest failure to the song, though, it’s a largely meandering structure without an interesting chord progression or hook in the chorus.
I really like the solo, though! At least the production feels more thought out than “Of Wolf and Man”, and there’s a fun “Hey!” in the background before the final verse. The third guitar for the mega-harmonized ending, plus the country-clean outro, show that this song got a little more love.
But yeah, not much happening here for me.
Grade: C- (Mark), C (Jay)
Next installment: “My Friend Of Misery” – performed by Cherry Glazer, Izïa and Kamasi Washington.