Metal band Devil You Know has turned a random moment of light-hearted fun into a heavy-hitting cover of a classic movie theme.
While the band was in the studio working on second album They Bleed Red (due Nov. 6 on Nuclear Blast Entertainment), singer Howard Jones arrived one day dressed in a shower robe. “[He] started shadow boxing in the vocal booth while doing his best Rocky Balboa impersonation,” recalls drummer John Sankey. “It was so impressive that we immediately knew we had to do a cover of the infamous Rocky soundtrack theme ‘Eye of the Tiger.'” The band already had been discussing the possibility of recording a cover song, so “in that moment when HoJo literally transformed himself into the Italian Stallion right in front of our very eyes, we knew it was the perfect choice!”
The timing is right for an “Eye of the Tiger” reboot: The next movie in the Rocky franchise, Creed — which focuses on the character Adonis Johnson, the son of Balboa’s former-foe-turned-ally Apollo Creed — hits theaters on Nov. 25. (The song reboot is not affiliated with the movie.) “Tiger” is the theme to Rocky III, the installment where Balboa gets his butt handed to him by firebrand challenger Clubber Lang, then regains his courage with the help of Creed. The song, which is performed by Survivor, topped the Billboard Hot 100 for six consecutive weeks in 1982.
Devil You Know got into the spirit of revamping the song by getting in character for the recording. “We decided each of us must take on the persona of a different cast member to best capture the performance necessary to do such an iconic song justice,” explains Sankey. “Howard lived and breathed the role of Rocky for a full week.” Guitarist Francesco Artusato was the “slightly shorter” Ivan Drago, the Cold War villain from Rocky IV. Bassist Ryan Wombacher was “the perfect fit for a modern-day Mickey,” Balboa’s gravely voiced trainer-mentor, and Sankey was a “way too Australian, not-quite-as-ripped version of Apollo Creed.”
“We entered the studio swinging wildly in all directions with our respective instruments, and there was blood, sweat and many tears, mainly of uncontrollable laughter,” says Sankey. “Hours later we emerged victorious and super-slow-motion high-fived each other in classic Rocky fashion as we listened back to the sweet metal sounds of a reformed Survivor classic. We hope you all enjoy it as much as we do.”
Listen to the song here:
Devil You Know’s new version will be available as a bonus track on They Bleed Red. Production-wise, it’s a heavyweight contender:The band muscled it up with passion, fervid guitars and Jones’ metalcore-esque growls.
Survivor was recently in the news for not being pleased when “Eye of the Tiger” was played at a rally for Kim Davis, the Rowan County clerk in Kentucky who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. We wager the band won’t have the same reaction to Devil You Know’s tribute. But in the spirit of friendly competition, tell us in the comments below: Is Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” still the champ, or did Devil You Know deliver a T.K.O.?