No one can deny that Metallica is one hell of a cover band. Before this series reaches its end, I'm sure they'll have several entries in it. If I had to choose just one Metallica cover, though, this would be it.
The reason this song works so well really has more to do with Queen than Metallica, I think. When this tune was written for Sheer Heart Attack, it was a bit prophetic. At the time, no one had any idea that a brand of metal called thrash would come along a few years later or what it would sound like. No one, except perhaps Queen, who, with "Stone Cold Crazy" delivered what is arguably the first ever song in the genre.
Of course, I could say that Metallica heavied the song up a little, but that's not really true. Maybe the guitar tones had a little more growl in them, and James Hetfield's voice certainly does, but they didn't deliver the song any faster than Queen. Still, it seemed as though it were a song that had been written just for Metallica to perform. Like Freddie Mercury and Brian May knew they were coming and said, "we'll write a little something that those boys can rip on one day."
And rip on it, Metallica does. With just as much energy and anger as the original. If there's a better version of the song, I guess it would have to be this one, with the surviving members of Queen, Hetfield and Tony Iommi.
I guess the lesson to be learned here is that you can't go wrong with "Stone Cold Crazy" in any configuration that includes members of Queen, Metallica or Black Sabbath.