AC/DC’s fundamental hard rock might and elemental metal majesty is the stuff that screams are made of.
Alas, it cannot be understated what AC/DC has meant to metal in the first place. The explosive heavy blues, leering lyrics, and nonstop locomotion of the group makes them universally revered among the most intense artist in rock’s most over-the-top metal subgenres.
For ten extreme metal acts that have paid tribute to AC/DC via cover songs, we now salute you.
“Beating Around the Bush” – Illdisposed (2000)
Danish death metal damnation brigade Illdisposed dip relatively deep into AC/DC’s 1979 opus Highway to Hell for their take on “Beating Around the Bush.” The band’s snarling hostility well suits the song’s screed from a jilted lover laying into his cheating lady.
“Have a Drink on Me” – My Ruin (2010)
Blonde gansta rapper turned raven-maned alt-metal supernova Tairrie B. fronts hard rock hedonists My Ruin with an abandon that could only impress the originators of so much of that form in AC/DC. My Ruin’s “Have a Drink on Me” appears on 2010’s The Metal Forge Volume 2: A Tribute to AC/DC, which also features Steel Panther doing “Whole Lotta Rosie” and 4Wheel Drive barreling through “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution.“
“Whole Lotta Rosie” – Acid Drinkers (1994)
Poland’s pioneering thrash masters Acid Drinkers ease into their revamp of “Whole Lotta Rosie.” They start slow and quiet, almost to the point that one starts wondering if this is even an Acid Drinkers song. The, right at the 45-second mark, there it is: hardcore-punk-paced madness and raining Eastern European metal mayhem.
“Live Wire” – Annihilator (1996)
Turning the Great White North blood red since 1984, thrash-smashers Annihilator routinely rolled out “Live Wire” in concert. Naturally, then, the song made their kickass live collection, In Command.
“Highway to Hell” – Marilyn Manson (1999)
Marilyn Manson wrote both a song and an autobiography titled “The Long Hard Road Out of Hell,” and even those with the slightest awareness of the shock rocker would concede he’s well versed in such thoroughfares. So could Manson’s freaked-out, techno-splattered AC/DC cover have been any selection other than “Highway to Hell”? Of course not.
“Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” – Exodus (1987)
The title track from AC/DC’s 1976 album, “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” spins a sordid saga of a slayer for hire. Joan Jett scored a hit in 1990 with her version. Still, the hardest rocking “DDDC” cover comes courtesy of Bay Area thrash beasts Exodus, who released a live take as a bonus track on their ’87 LP Pleasures of the Flesh.
“It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock and Roll”) – Iced Earth (2001)
Tribute to the Gods, a 2001 covers album by power metal maestros Iced Earth, showcases the band blaring out favorites by Kiss, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Blue Öyster Cult, Alice Cooper, and, to be sure, AC/DC. IE’s “Highway to Hell” burns bright, but their spin on “It’s a Long Way to the Top” is even better.
“For Those About to Rock” – Godflesh (1997)
Industrial metal anti-deities Godflesh turn “For Those About to Rock” into mechanized terror. You’ll feel electrocuted by the time frontman Justin Broadrick yells, “Fire!” The song is part of 1997’s Covered in Black: An Industrial Tribute to the Kings of High Voltage, AC/DC. The anthology’s other highlights include “Squealer” by Genitorturers, “Highway to Hell” by Electric Hellfire Club, and “Back in Black” by Pigface vs. Sheep on Drugs.
“T.N.T” – Anthrax (2015)
Anthrax has always been a powerhouse of killer covers and, in 2015, they released Anthems, a complete album of nothing but such thrashified delights, with a particular focus on classic rock. “T.N.T.” is an absolute monster by way of Anthrax, as are the group’s takes on “Anthem” by Rush, “Smokin’” by Boston, “Big Eyes” by Cheap Trick,” and “Jailbreak” by Thin Lizzy.
“Hell’s Bells” – Six Feet Under (2004)
Florida-spawned death metal demons Six Feet Under are diabolically devoted to AC/DC like no other artists. After playing “T.N.T.” on their 2000 covers collection Graveyard Classics, Six Feet Under followed up in 2004 with Graveyard Classics 2, a song-by-song cover of AC/DC’s entire Back in Black album. “Hell’s Bells” is only the beginning….