Few musicians are as unpredictable and prone to continual sonic evolution as Björk. The constantly evolving Icelandic artist made her debut at age 12 before playing in two punk bands—K.U.K.L. and Tappi Tíkarrass–and eventually joining the Sugarcubes.
But as a solo artist she’s covered an incredible amount of ground over the past 30 years, from club-oriented electronic music to string-laden art pop and on her newly released album Fossora, even gabber techno.
In May of 1995, however, she revealed her heavy metal side ahead of the release of her second album, Post. Appearing on the British music show Top of the Pops with UK alternative metal band Skunk Anansie, Björk performed an extra heavy version of the album’s first single, “Army of Me.”
Though it’s already pretty intense in its original studio version, driven by a booming industrial bassline and shrieking samples, for this performance “Army of Me” is given even more volume and urgency, as well as some extra screams from Skunk Anansie vocalist Skin.
Given Björk’s embrace and pursuit of so many different styles of music throughout her career, it probably won’t come as a surprise to learn that she’s a fan of heavy music. In fact, in 1996, she released a version of her song “Isobel” remixed by none other than death metal legends Carcass. And she’s gone on record as standing firmly against boring, bland rock music.
“I love extreme rock,” she said in a 2003 interview. “I love death metal and Jimi Hendrix, early Queen: anything that goes all the way. I guess the more bland, passive rock that stands for stagnation like Oasis and a lot of the Indie Rock stuff drives me nuts.”
Additionally, in a Metal Injection interview, Cannibal Corpse vocalist George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher said that Björk called him the “Freddie Mercury of death metal.” He drops it into the conversation pretty casually, but that’s the kind of high praise worth putting in every press release and social media bio.
“Army of Me” has proven remarkably popular among heavy bands over the years, and with good reason—even before she teamed up with Skunk Anansie, it was one of the heaviest songs she ever recorded.
That’s thanks in large part to use of a sample of John Bonham’s drums from “When the Levee Breaks.” But it’s since been covered by Helmet, Caliban, and Powerman 5000. And there are other metal versions of Björk songs out there as well, like a cover of “Pagan Poetry” by Greek black metal group Nocternity.
But given how badass of a song “Army of Me” is at its core, it’s hard to top Björk’s own brief dalliance with heavy metal.