The Metallica Blacklist will hit streaming in September and shelves in October. The album will consist of over fifty artists covering songs from Metallica’s 1991 self-titled album. That album, commonly referred to as The Black Album, is one of the best-selling heavy metal records of all time. At the same time, it contains some of the Bay Area thrashers’ best-known work. So, just about everyone has heard it. The artist pool on the record is deep as well as vast. It draws from several cultures, genres, and generations. Everyone from the Flatbush Zombies and Ghost to Jon Pardi and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit is on the record.
However, the artists aren’t just covering Metallica songs for fun and royalties. All proceeds from the release go to charities of the artists’ choosing. For example, all of the money from Jon Pardi’s “Wherever I May Roam,” cover goes to the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism, according to the Metallica website.
With that out of the way, let’s talk a little about Jon Pardi’s cover. But first, check out the official video for the song below.
Jon Pardi Doesn’t Roam Too Far on His Cover
In my opinion, cutting a good cover isn’t easy to do. The artist has to walk the fine line between respecting the original and bringing something new to the table. If it’s a note-for-note cover, there’s no real reason to listen to it. On the other hand, if it’s completely unrecognizable it has to be a stellar cover to really work. (See Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s cover of “Sad But True,” for that.) It seems like Jon Pardi was well aware of this balance when he went in the studio to record “Wherever I May Roam.”
From the first seconds of the song, you can hear that Jon Pardi has chosen to blend country music and heavy metal. The original version opens with a sitar followed by a big, heavy riff. However, Pardi’s cover sounds like it starts with an acoustic guitar mimicking the sitar tone. Then, the riff comes in. If you remember cranking The Black Album back in the 90s, you’re going to get a pleasant trip back in time.
However, there are a couple of additions to the song that are pure country. For one, the song is packed with solid fiddle work. Then, there are little flashes of steel guitar. The biggest differences between Jon Pardi’s cover and the original are the guitar solos. They replace Kirk Hammett’s wah-infused shred with an equally shred-heavy telecaster backed by a steel guitar in the first. The outro solo contains a hot fiddle break, more of that great twangy shred, and a little steel. In short, it’s a great country transformation that pays homage to the original.
On top of all that, Jon Pardi’s vocals somehow fit the song like a glove. This one is hard to beat.