Void Of Vision, with the help of members from Northlane, Polaris & Make Them Suffer, have covered perhaps the mightiest Slipknot tune of ’em all: ‘Psychosocial.’
This decade, some of the biggest heavy music publications have been cashing in on nostalgia and people’s universal love of a good cover. What with Metal Hammer, Alternative Press, Kerrang!, and Rock Sound working with various artists to release cover tributes. Occasionally, this results in some great moments, like with Rock Sound’s ‘Worship And Tributes‘, seeing Stray From The Path nail an awesome cover of Deftones‘ ‘Back To School‘ and Hacktivist getting their Cypress Hill on with a mad rendition of ‘Rock Superstar,’ among various other choice cuts. (Hell, that particular compilation already wins just with that Glassjaw referencing title alone.)
Kerrang!’s ‘Ultimate Rock Heroes‘ wasn’t half bad either, with Enter Shikari’s solid version of ‘Know Your Enemy‘ being a real standout, along with Rolo Tomassi’s haunting ‘Digital Bath‘ cover. However, these releases often end up being a forgettable mess. As per Rock Sound’s disastrous My Chemical Romance tribute for ‘The Black Parade,’ which sonically sounded poor and felt horrendously unnecessary, with only Twenty One Pilots doing something cool for ‘Cancer.’
This all brings us to Metal Hammer’s recently released ‘March of the Maggots‘ split compilation CD, released in light of Slipknot’s new album ‘We Are Not Your Kind‘ dropping. It sees nine covers as well as five new heavy songs from relatively unknown metal artists that were apparently inspired by The 9. But as none of the latter were that good or that interesting, let’s just focus on the covers. And honestly, I think there are only two genuinely good covers of Slipknot songs out there; covers that actually come close to matching the originals. The first is Periphery’s wicked take on ‘The Heretic Anthem‘ – a B-side to ‘Periphery II‘ – and the second is the mental deathcore rendition of ‘(sic)‘ by Sydney’s own Wraith. (Well, no, make that three if we count that insane banjo/hill-billy ‘Psychosocial’ cover from Rob Scallon.)
So here, you’ve got Cursed Earth covering ‘People=Shit‘ and it’s not half bad (despite their vocalist at the time of recording recently being outed for having some abhorrent views on women); Blood Youth do a surprisingly decent job of ‘(sic)‘; Hacktivist take on ‘Duality‘ in an interesting yet confusing and messy manner; Conjurer provide a beastly post-metal, blackened version of ‘Vermilion‘; the tinny-sounding hardcore take of ‘Left Behind‘ (sans the great singing performances) from MSRY is really lacking; and Employed To Serve do an okay job at re-doing the dark and creepy ‘Purity‘. Again, it’s a mixed bag, with the exception of Subtraction doing some cool stuff with ‘Surfacing‘ in remaining faithful to the original and their own sound.
For this article, I’m going to hone in on Void Of Vision’s version of ‘Psychosocial,’ as that was the first cover off this CD that I heard. The biggest song from 2008’s ‘All Hope Is Gone‘ (no, it’s not shit, you’re shit), ‘Psychosocial‘ is the quintessential song for Slipknot. At the very least, it’s up there with ‘Duality‘ and ‘Surfacing‘ or ‘Spit It Out,’ and much like Refused’s ‘New Noise‘, it’s a song one should probably never cover. ‘Cause it doesn’t need to be covered. (Ask yourself this: is a cover good or bad because of the band covering the song, or due to the original song itself?) But when your band is on one of these releases, it makes it a tall order to not only cover a track like this, but also do it justice. At the base level, and similar to From Sorrow To Serenity’s cover of ‘The Blister Exists‘ on this very same Metal Hammer release, this is just a metalcore/hardcore cover of one of Slipknot’s biggest and best bangers. But to their credit, though, they accurately re-did the riffs, pinches, sense of groove, and that triplet snare drum roll in the bridge. So that’s… something.
Yet when this cover kicks in and vocalist Jack Bergin screams “I did my time“, it doesn’t come close to how the original’s opening line was so massively conveyed by The Big Mouth himself, fully gripping your angsty senses back in ’08. To be fair, most vocalists in heavy music aren’t Corey Taylor, which makes covering songs like this even more challenging. There’s just not the same vocal drive. The same can be said of the cleanly sung “and the rain will kill us all” refrains, which while accurate, don’t instil the same level of hook or scale that the original so effortlessly did. There’s also isn’t any percussion layering and while that’s a subtle element to these Slipknot songs, it’s definitely a noticeable missing aspect here on Void’s take.
More than that, the strangest thing is that the best parts don’t come from Void themselves. Ryan Siew of Polaris channels Mick Thomson and Jim Root competently to nail that shredding, fret-running guitar solo; Northlane’s Marcus Bridge gives a short but great little vocal part before the final chorus and outro; and Make Them Suffer’s Sean Harmanis sounds like a rabid demon during his demented part in the second verses. All three of these guests outdo the band their featuring with and that’s bizarre.
There are two core factors that help make a good cover: the right original being covered by the right band. And I just don’t think that’s the case here. I’m also not sure whether it was up to the Melbourne act about which song they covered or whether Metal Hammer delegated the songs, but if it was up to me, a better pick for Void would’ve maybe been either ‘Liberate‘ or ‘Everything Ends.’ As it’s rather unfair for a younger metalcore band like VOV to tackle a monster of a track like ‘Psychosocial‘. Clearly, though, these guys love Slipknot and the song itself, but just like this very article, just because you can do something, that doesn’t mean that you should. That being said, props to Void for their boldness, and their attempt at trying to take on one of the biggest Slipknot songs around, even if this is a drop in the water compared to the mighty original.
And hey, if you do like this cover, just know that Void Of Vision will release their second LP, ‘Hyperdaze,’ on September 13th.