Of all the songs from Metallica’s Black Album for Volbeat to cover, “Don’t Tread on Me” seems like perhaps the oddest choice. Not because it’s musically outside their wheelhouse — there aren’t any songs on The Black Album that scream “VOLBEAT!” to these old ears. No no. It’s because the song was written and recorded during the first Gulf War and is, as its title suggests, very much a “rah-rah ‘Murica!” anthem*… and 75% of Volbeat is Danish.
Then again, you could argue that it could be, and has been, argued that “Don’t Tread on Me” was always an odd song. For one thing, the track goes against the anti-war message of previous Metallica songs like “One,” “Disposable Heroes,” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” For another thing, it opens with the melody from the West Side Story song “America,” in which a group of immigrants argue about whether or not the U.S. is superior to Puerto Rico. In other words, the “U-S-A! U-S-A!” stance of the song is very much undercut by referencing a piece a music that is not all “U-S-A! U-S-A!” in content.
In any case, Volbeat have made the song their own, which includes burying the “America” part way down in the mix, rendering the chorus all but unrecognizable, and letting Rob Caggiano (the band’s sole American member) do his own (mostly) during the guitar solo. I don’t love it necessarily, but I sure do appreciate it!
Listen below. The track is part of The Metallica Blacklist, an album that “celebrates the enduring influence of Metallica with an unprecedented 50+ artists spanning an unbelievably vast range of genres, generations, cultures, continents and more, each contributing a unique interpretation of their favorite Black Album cut.” Previous singles include “Nothing Else Matters” by Miley Cyrus, Elton John , Yo-Yo Ma, Chad Smith, and Robert Trujillo, “Enter Sandman” by Juanes, versions of “Sad But True” by St. Vincent, Sam Fender, and Jason Isbell, iterations of “Holier Than Thou” by Biffy Clyro and OFF!, and takes on “The Unforgiven” by Diet Cig, Ha*Ash, and Vishal Dadlani, Divine, and Shor Police. It comes out October 1, and can be pre-ordered here. All profits from every track on The Metallica Blacklist will benefit Metallica’s charitable foundation, All Within My Hands, along with a charity of each artist’s choice.
Metallica has also released pre-production rehearsal audio of the original song from 1991. You can listen to that below as well. It comes off the super-duper Black Album 30th anniversary edition, slated for release on September 10. Pre-order it here.
Metallica’s current live itinerary is as follows:
9/24/21 – Louisville, KY – Louder Than Life at Highland Festival Grounds at KY Expo Center [tickets]
9/26/21 – Louisville, KY – Louder Than Life at Highland Festival Grounds at KY Expo Center [tickets]
10/8/21 – Sacramento, CA – Aftershock at Discovery Park [tickets]
10/10/21 – Sacramento, CA – Aftershock at Discovery Park [tickets]
11/4/21 – Hollywood, FL — Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino [tickets]
11/12/21 – Daytona Beach, FL – Welcome to Rockville at the Daytona International Speedway [tickets]
11/14/21 – Daytona Beach, FL – Welcome to Rockville at the Daytona International Speedway [tickets]
12/17/21 — San Francisco, CA — Chase Center [fan club only]
12/19/21 — San Francisco, CA — Chase Center [fan club only]
6/15/22 – Copenhell – Copenhagen, Denmark [tickets]
6/17/22 – Firenze Rocks – Florence, Italy [tickets]
6/19/22 – Prague Rocks – Prague, Czech Republic [tickets]
6/22/22 – Rock Werchter – Werchter, Belgium [tickets]
7/1/22 – Mad Cool – Madrid, Spain [tickets]
7/6/22 – NOS Alive – Lisbon, Portugal [tickets]