Word association time: when I say “Xentrix,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Maybe “For,” or “Whose,” or “Advantage?” but most likely it’s “Ghostbusters.” And that’s sort of a shame. In thrash metal’s heyday, the “novelty cover” game was pretty strong, even though I don’t think anyone really liked the damn things, except maybe clueless label suits hoping for some kind of crossover appeal to the breakfast-cereal crowd. Or, maybe I just have no sense of humor. Possible, but I still skip over these songs on a regular basis, and you probably do too. There are lots to choose from, but here are five of the worst offenders from thrash metal’s cover-happy “glory” days.
Xentrix – “Ghostbusters”
Hey, did you know Xentrix dropped a new record, Bury the Pain, just last week? Or do you just immediately start thinking about their cover of the Ghostbusters theme song as soon as anyone says their name, therefore obliterating any and all Xentrix news post-1990? One Metal Archives reviewer calls this ridiculous tune an “incredible cover,” but I call it unbearable. Maybe funny for the first half-listen, I have no idea why this ever happened, never mind became the title track of an EP. Sometimes I think this band’s entire career was tarnished by this one silly song.
Anthrax – “God Save the Queen”
What’s worse than suffering through the original version of this Sesame Street punk song yet again? Hearing a thrash band cover it. Although the spirit of hardcore and punk lives in thrash metal’s veins, there’s always something a bit skewed when thrash bands cover punk songs (Hi, Overkill—you barely made it out of this list, so don’t get too comfortable over there). Then again, the Pistols aren’t exactly Fugazi; bah, this whole thing is just bad (see also: Megadeth’s “Anarchy in the U.K.” to try to get to the bottom of if these covers add punk spirit or strip punk spirit from the already-pretty-vacant originals, but don’t bother reporting back with the results because I just can’t.).
Megadeth – “These Boots”
Everything about this rubbed me the wrong way from day one: the fact that the name “Nancy Sinatra” is involved in something to do with Megadeth, the fact that it’s a hit from 1966, the fact that our parents (gasp!) probably grooved the original (for further ‘deth hair-pulling exasperation, please see “I Ain’t Superstitious,” although that one at least half-shreds). I realize getting a full album’s worth of material out of ‘deth during their high-strung heyday was probably a bit of a chore, but this just reeks of nudge-nudge, ain’t-this-wacky novelty tune, which is not why I go to early Megadeth albums. A convincing vocal performance by Mustaine but otherwise, I seriously could go the rest of my life without hearing this song—and just might, lord knows I’m trying—and would be totally okay with that. At least Mustaine raised some hell with the lyric-changing and subsequent trouble, but, still.
Testament – “Nobody’s Fault”
I talked about this in some detail here, and my feelings haven’t changed: while Testament are probably in my top-five favorite bands of all time, I really wish they hadn’t thrown this Aerosmith cover on The New Order and then released a video for it, to boot. I mean, a bad Testament song is better than the best Aerosmith song anyway, so why bother? I wouldn’t hold on to my bitterness so much if it was thrown on as a hidden bonus track, but it most certainly wasn’t. I seem to get more angry about this cover’s existence as the years go on, which is, uh, testament to either the fact that I need to lighten up or that I was right. And, you know what? I was right, man: this song is lame and I wanted one more prime-era Testament cut instead.
Flotsam and Jetsam – “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting”
Hard to narrow it down here—Coroner covering a couple tunes that I never need to hear again, Exodus making the insufferable “Low Rider” their own, Nuclear Assault stumbling through “Ballroom Blitz”—but here, how about Flotsam and Jetsam covering this incredibly annoying tune? Sure, it’s no “Black Betty” as far as making me want to kill myself goes, but, c’mon, to tarnish the excellent No Place for Disgrace with an ain’t-this-silly Elton John cover? That’s a crime punishable by what the dudes on the cover of this thrash classic are up to. And this song, man, hate the original, hate this cover. Given the year and the fact that this was Flots’ album on Elektra, I can’t help but call label interference here. Maybe I’m wrong, but whatever, man: this sucks either way. Hasn’t stopped me from loving this record for much of my life, but it tries its hardest.
Decibel counts down the Top 5 BEST Thrash Metal covers here.