Enjoy Thrash Metal? Brian May Thinks You Should Thank Queen For It
There’s no question that British rock band Queen is one of the most influential acts of all time. Freddy Mercury’s legendary vocal performances transcend time and Brian May‘s riffs still kick ass all these years later. But were they a proto-thrash band for at least one song? The surviving guitarist sure thinks so.
During a recent interview with Total Guitar, May suggested that the song “Stone Cold Crazy” — you know, that one Metallica B-side that made its way onto Garage Inc. — was the spark that made thrash metal possible.
“‘Stone Cold Crazy’ goes back a long way. It was one of the first songs we ever played together, so it’s interesting that it never made it onto a record until the third album…Freddie [Mercury] had written the lyrics with his old band, and the original riff was very different – it sounded like the riff in ‘Tear It Up’ [from 1984’s The Works]. So that original version of ‘Stone Cold Crazy’ sounded like a lot of other things which were around at the time, with quite an easygoing riff. It didn’t have much pace to it.
“But I thought, ‘These lyrics are kind of frenetic, so the music should be frenetic as well. So I put this riff on it, which people are telling me is the birth of thrash metal or something! I don’t know about that. But was unusual at the time to play at that pace.”
Now, there’s more to thrash than just playing at a “frenetic” pace, but he’s right that songs weren’t typically played at around 120 BPM, which is about where “Stone Cold Crazy” lands. May said the band played it even faster on the definitive version of the song than how it was originally written, saying they “just went for it.”
According to some sources, Metallica’s version is a bit faster, which may have been the secret sauce to their winning a Best Metal Performance in 1991 for their cover of the song while Queen got diddly-squat for actually writing the damn thing.
So what say you, fellow thrash fans? Ready to bend the knee before almighty thrash god Brian May?