Among the singles that Metallica has shared from their 53-track covers project is St. Vincent’s version of “Sad But True.” It’s one of seven renditions of the Black Album classic by artists on The Metallica Blacklist Album that also include Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, Sam Fender, Royal Blood, YB, White Reaper and the Mexican Institute of Sound feat. La Perla & Gera MX.
St. Vincent’s cover of the 1991 classic keeps plenty of the structural elements of the song, like the iconic guitar riff, guitar solo and drum fills, but filters it through more industrial textures. Her vocals mostly fit right in with the work she did on her latest album, Daddy’s Home, playing up the catchy melody as if it were a pop song and not heavy-metal. She does play with a darker tone during the choruses, slightly distorting her vocals.
The pop star has a fall 2021 tour planned in support of her new album, including appearances at festivals like Pitchfork Music Festival Chicago, Shaky Knees and All Things Go. Her Metallica cover was released with a music video showing a wall of small old-school television screens, displaying high-quality footage of eyes, mouths, hands and feet through pixelated television grain. The video was created by videographer Aaron Hymes.
Hymes also created an animated cowboy-themed video for Jason Isbell’s take on “Sad But True.” Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit replaced Metallica’s instrumental with upbeat country-blues guitar riffs and slide guitar. It swirls into a storm as Isbell shouts the lyrics, taking liberties with the melody during the chorus.
Sam Fender’s live performance of “Sad But True” is the other cover of the classic that has been released in advance of the covers album. The UK rocker stripped down the track for a completely different vision for the tune. He puts some soul into his vocal performance over piano chords and strings, obscuring the original melodies.
All of the songs on Metallica (The Black Album) were covered on The Metallica Blacklist Album, not just “Sad But True.” One of the previous singles from the project is Miley Cyrus’s version of “Nothing Else Matters,” featuring Elton John on piano, Yo-Yo Ma on cello, Robert Trujillo (who didn’t join Metallica until 2003) on bass and Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers on drums.
The covers record is being released in honor of The Black Album’s 30th anniversary. The original album is also being remastered as part of a huge box set that will also include demo recordings, live performances, interviews and more.
Photo credit: Owen Ela