Run For Cover is a weekly music column comparing cover songs to the original version. Prepare for a major bending of rules as we hear musicians throw around genres, tempos, style, and intent. Whether they’re picking up another’s song out of respect or boredom, the results have impressed us.
Watching Slayer is like watching a glitchy video get caught on the same quarter of a second. Backed by massive walls of amps, the heavy metal group take part in some seriously ridiculous tremolo picking and double bass drumming, not to mention all that head thrashing. It fits their albums which, let’s not forget, graciously outline necrophilia, Satanism, warfare, and serial killers. Ah, the joys.
Let’s get one thing straight about Slayer: as easy as they are to make fun of, they’re an important band.
The Cali thrash metal band are responsible for helping morph metal into something uglier than ever before, earning their credit as one of the Big Four metal bands. “Evil Has No Boundaries” gets destructive. “Raining Blood” salutes the antichrist. Even the bass in songs like “At Dawn They Sleep” gets thicker and sludgier than before. Sure, Metallica and Anthrax are part of the Big Four, too, but they don’t have the same furious, punk-tinged edge that Slayer bring to the table.
Then they took things farther. Even though 1988’s South of Heaven was Slayer’s most commercially successful record at the time, it drew mixed responses. The onslaught of satanic drivel was disturbing to some and worrisome to most. Over the years, Slayer have considered the album’s title track to be a constant fixture in their live setlist, exploding with pent-up fury and volatile kick drum onstage. On the bright side, it did offer up some Tumblr-ready quotes like “Before you see the light, you die.”
On the other side of the musical spectrum is folk-punk, and no folk-punk band gets as goofy as Andrew Jackson Jihad. The Arizona duo of Sean Bonnette and Ben Gallaty charm listeners with bandwagon tales of social anxiety, youthful poverty, ambivalent religion, and general existentialism. To say the least, everyone can relate. Their chipper attitudes and freewheeling songs only add to the joyous setting of their live shows.
But let’s talk about Bonnette for a minute.
Sean Bonnette is a bit of a do-gooder. He just released a free covers EP through Jeff Rosenstock’s record label. As if the Bomb the Music Industry! frontman’s blessing isn’t enough, take a look at the EP’s blissfully chill name: Skateboarding’s Greatest Hits. In true AJJ fashion, Bonnett covered everyone from The Misfits to Guided By Voices, Beck to David Bowie, and every great skateboarding song in between.
On the EP, he offers up an entertaining, albeit comical, take on “South of Heaven”. While Slayer’s version is chilly, if not terrifying, Bonnette reworks the song to his own draw between a country western and an alien takeover. His guitar’s mountainous echoes and hollow twangs reappear throughout, giving it a Texan taste. It doesn’t take long for the slow start to kick up dust and bring in all sorts of tweaking electronic blips. When Bonnette does a cover, he leaves nothing untouched.
As one of the official Big Four, Slayer will never see their sound perfectly mimicked. Artfully covered, however, is another thing. Bonnette uses his recording time to turn thrash metal into a momentary departure into sci-fi fun. Duel guitars and layered harmonies give it some texture, but it’s his trusty wailing vocals that hit home. Bonnette has officially made one of the most eerie Slayer covers out there. The best part? It’s free to download.