Sometimes a release just tells me to buy it. I can hear it, in my head. Buuuyyyy meeee…
I was in Sunrise the other day and was confronted with three different versions of the remastered Blackened re-release of this Metallica EP:
- regular CD in slim cardboard sleeve
- regular CD in slim cardboard sleeve in a longbox with lenticular cover (ltd. ed.)
- orange vinyl 12″ (ltd. ed.)
Now, I know with Metallica that “limited edition” probably means limited to a zillion copies instead of a bazillion, so I generally disregard that angle when it comes to these guys. I’ll admit that the orange vinyl was mighty tasty-looking and would be glorious to own. The least interesting to me was the standard wee slim cardboard sleeve CD version. I mean, whatever.
But some primal part of me, that ancient part of me that actually remembers the longbox releases back in the day, gravitated towards that longbox edition. Yeah, it’s still just the cardboard sleeve version inside a big dumb box, but I could hear it: buuuuyyy meeee… So of course I did. It was a few bucks more than the standard CD, which is OK seeing as how the longbox is ridiculous (and therefore pleases me greatly) and it’s limited edition (haha see above) and the lenticular cover is pretty cool (so far as it goes).
So yeah. I may still want the orange vinyl. But the longbox tickles me and I’m cool with that.
It’s Sunday, let’s have some fun!
Here’s a fun experiment:
Listen to the offical audio of Metallica’s Enter Sandman on Youtube (link at the bottom of this post, but read on first). I know, I know, hey Aaron, WHY? Stay with me…
Try this: hit up the Settings wheel on the video (bottom right of the video). Under Speed, start with 0.25 and work your way up through the speed options. It’s fascinating!
Check it out:
0.25x – almost drone-like, odd at first but also hypnotic. Unfortunately the vocals sound like they’re being squeezed through a long metal tube.
0.5x – sounds like a garage band trying to be evil-sounding while they’re still learning the chords and notes for the song. It’s sludgy as hell, too. Check out the guitar solo section (around 3:00)! Awesome!
0.75x – Now we’re at high school talent show speeds, a steady solid groove that works wonderfully. I dig this speed!
Normal Speed – Been here a zillion times. Next!
1.25x – Punk Metallica! I actually like the song at this speed. It’s plausible (with a different drummer), and still totally recognizeable. Go go GO!
1.5x – Sounds like an experimental track by speed thrash metalheads. Interestingly, James’ vocals already kind of sounds like the Chipmunks so speeding him up by half again doesn’t really change much! Haha this is fun too!
2x – Now it just sounds like you’ve sped it up on purpose, like you’re holding the Scan button down on your remote. Not really all that interesting, though I like the outro section at this speed! Hell, we’ve come a long way from the 0.25x speed, eh?
Interestingly, the song stands up, more or less, at all speeds… from sludgy beast to speed metal blitz. Of them all, I liked the 0.75x, Normal, and 1.25x speeds best, I think.
TRY IT! GO HERE
I bailed on posting a review yesterday (instead slapping up some fun pics), because I wasn’t ready to post what I was finishing… and I’m still not done! So here’s another, different post instead. And why do I owe this as a review? Because I promised it to all of you. Back when I reviewed the main album, I did both discs and left this third disc of extras for later… much later, it seems. Hell, the album went on to be tied for my Album Of The Year in 2016, so I’ve sat on the damn thing long enough…
Alright, let’s give ‘er!
Three (!) years ago, now, Metallica released Lords Of Summer as a single to start their tour (because it’s about touring, natch). It’s a big heavy riff, it shifts approaches several times, and when it gallops, it does so deliciously.
Then we go into the Ronnie Rising Medley, which is a collection of Rainbow covers, because awesome. A Light In The Black, Tarot Woman, Stargazer and Kill The King all rule. This is such a fun way to spend 9:03 of your life.
Next they cover Deep Purple’s When A Blind Man Cries (a b-side for Never Before, recorded during the Machine Head sessions), which is done beautifully and bluesily (even when the crunch kicks in). I have to say, it’s really refreshing to hear them do it like this, and what an interesting (and excellent) track to select!
Another cover tune is up, this time Iron Maiden’s Remember Tomorrow (off Iron Maiden). What struck me is how weird it was to hear Iron Maiden sound like Metallica! Haha, why didn’t that occur to me with the other covers? Hm. Anyway, this is a bang-on cover.
And now it’s a bunch of live tracks, recorded on 2016-04-16 for Record Store Day at Rasputin Music in Berkeley, California. What do you really need me to tell you about their rips through the following (all early years) songs? Exactly. Crank it the fuck up and go go GO!
Helpless (cover of Diamond Head)
Hit The Lights
The Four Horsemen
Ride The Lightning
Fade To Black
Jump In The Fire
For Whom The Bell Tolls
There’s one more track tacked on here, recorded 2016-08-20 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Yup, it’s Hardwired and, of course, it frickin’ smokes. First time ever that it was played live. Rrrrrrrrrraaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!!
As if the main 2CD studio album weren’t enough awesomeness, Metallica (in their typically thoughtful and great ways) bestows upon us this third disc that collects a whole lot of brilliance. There had been talk of releasing a bunch of riffs as a third disc instead of this collection. I’m fine with this!
We were watching videos of Metallica’s Opera House show (2016-11-29) on the Tubes Of You. Our son (7) loved the super-fast rendition of Battery. It made him jump around and seemed to charge him with energy. Awesome.
Our daughter (5) loved the set-ending Seek & Destroy. She was sitting on my lap as she watched, making metal horns and waving them at the band members as they passed on the screen. Especially Kirk, so there ya go, Kirk!
When it was over, she said “Daddy, click on that thumbs-up so we can tell them we liked their song!”
Parenting Level 9999. Turn up the awesome!
I’ve already emailed several of you about this, but it bothered me so much I had to make it a post here so that all of our Beautiful Constant KMA Readers can be in on this story.
Craig Ferguson is ending his late night show soon, which is none too soon because we watched his monologue and sketches and none of it was funny. At all. That stupid skeleton robot, the stupid horse, the lame jokes… it’s looong over. Anyway, I suppose he thought he was gonna go out with a bang by having Metallica as guests for an entire week. It’s also great promo for their 10th anniversary re-release of (one of) the most painfully bad rock documentaries ever, Some Kind Of Monster. Also, in 2015, the band will begin re-releasing all of their albums, because everyone sells out and does that at some point, it seems. As if anyone needs to re-buy their Metallica albums. Just because. Oh, and here’s a couple of b-sides that were left off the albums for good reason. Thanks a fucking bunch, guys.
I will not provide youtube links to this TV show thing, you can go find it yourself – but please consider reading the rest of this post before you do so. And if, after reading this, you still choose to look it up, I consider you forewarned and on your own recognizance. I’ve done what I can.
First off, don’t even watch the monologue or interview. As I said, it’s really bad. And not funny. Save your non-refundable lifetime for something important, like clipping your toenails. I type this here as a public service. You may thank me later.
As for the music clips… well. We all know those guys, the ones who have a garage band and they’d quit their cubicle jobs in a minute if their band ever got a gig and got noticed and got a record deal (a deal which would screw them over forever and make their lives hell, but shhh they’re special snowflakes, don’t tell them that part).
Well, Metallica (I love them still) sounds like that garage band on this show. They sound like a hairy, unwashed group ensconced in Mom’s garage, bashing out For Whom The Bell Tolls because A) they can, and B) they have big dreams of success and fame and fortune and knowing how to cover these songs might (they mistakenly believe) give them cultural cache. They do NOT sound like the band that wrote the fucking song!
Actually, they sound like they’re struggling. Lars is doing pointless fills, half-assing it in every song, and still not keeping consistent time, I swear it. Kirk is in love with his pedals to cover the fact that he’s phoning it in, and the volume on his guitar was far too low. And James’ vocals are gone. Not even struggling, they’re just gone. The only one holding up his end of his deal is Rob Trujillo. In fact, he was carrying them, here.
I dunno, watch it and you might diagree. Fair play to you. But don’t let your blind allegiance to this band, er, blind you to the truth. This was so bad. Honestly, I found this to be just awful. And maybe it was bad sound because it’s a late night TV show studio, not Madison Square Garden. Maybe they were tired. Maybe being sober this long has sucked all the verve out of them. Maybe they didn’t rehearse at all because who give a shit about a string of late night TV show appearances?
Or maybe they’ve hit their sell-by date. Maybe doing this into their 50s is showing that it’s over? We don’t want it to be true, but come on. This music is for young players. I dunno, I haven’t been following them too closely the last couple of years. Have any of you had recent news about shows, sound issues, James’ voice, general band suckage?
This wasn’t my Metallica. Not even fucking close. This was amateur hour.
My buddy Craig bought the Blu-Ray of this movie. He’s a big Metallica fan, like the rest of us. Awesomely, he gifted me his included digital download code so I could see the movie too! THANKS, Craig!
This film is stunningly filmed, the images are so clear and crisp. I can only imagine what it looks like on a blu-ray and a great big, quality television. Since I don’t have either, I won’t know. But it looked damn fine on my iMac. Superb camera work! [Way better than that other concert DVD they filmed in a castle in France, with the camera on a track across the front of the stage, and every time it cut to that camera all you got was shaking nausea-inducing images because each bass drum kick rattled the rig. Yeesh.]
I won’t give any spoilers, in case you haven’t seen it, but this is basically a Metallica concert intercut with a fairly silly plotline of an errand guy for the band going to retrieve something and going through hell to bring it back. As it unwound, my first thought was ‘ohg-dplease don’t let this be about zombies.’ Anyway. The music of the band in concert plays like a soundtrack for his adventures. As for what he’s retrieved, well, I just don’t know.
Metallica has their live show honed down to such a fine art, and they pulled out all the stops to make this as big a production as possible. It’s like watching WWF wrestling. Of course it’s all staged and pre-planned, but the fact that they do it (because they can), and it’s so over the top, is pretty fun in itself.
The other side of that coin is that I found the stage had too much space, and the band spent more than half the show with their backs to each other at good distances apart. I understand that it’s to maximize crowd-facing, and they do run over to be beside each other now and again, and I’m sure they’ve played enough shows on smaller stages packed closer together. It was just a little… cold. Distant. Proof there’s a downside of it being a business and a spectacle (see above) first and foremost, each player on an island unto himself. That was my impression, anyway.
I really should watch this film again, but differently… In fact, if you haven’t seen it I might recommend you watch it twice: once for the band performances, skipping the plot part. Second time through, keep your finger on the scan forward button and skip the band, and just watch the (probably less than half an hour) of the storyline. The two of them don’t really go together, and there’s so little of the plot line it seems like an afterthought.All deference to the work they went to to make it happen, of course.
Knowing only that this was recently released, I haven’t seen any of the marketing for this set. I hope they’re not trying to pass it off as a film. It’s a Metallica concert DVD, like all the others, but with a sideline this time to… what? I don’t know what, maybe give your brain something to do in case your attention wanders from the music? It’s all a bit distracting.
Anyway, it’s superbly filmed, and fun enough. I like Metallica so I’d still say watch it and be impressed. I just wonder about the way they tried to glue the parts together.
My many thanks, again, to Craig for the opportunity to see this film!
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band – Live at Superbowl XLIII
The Boss knows how to rock, and every show is a party. So many records over the years, so many hits. Pretty hard to deny he is, by now, an established living legend.
Story: I got invited by a friend to watch the Superbowl yesterday at the local Knights of Columbus. Big screens, free pizza, cheap beer, people hooting and hollering. Good fun. Not a bad game either. And the half-time show, of course, was The Boss and his gang.
They tore the roof off the mothersucker. In their short ten minutes they raised the patriotic fervour south of the border several notches beyond its normal pitch, too.
But damn, Bruce, I watched you try to jump up on that piano… Look, maybe 20 years ago it would’ve been a breeze for you, but that time it just looked slow and painful. Also funny was the mis-timed knee-slide right into the cameraman. Oh jeez.
Great music, high energy, and physical comedy too. Gotta love The Boss.
The whole time through this film, I kept thinking ‘but, we’ve already seen Jack Black play this kind of role. And maybe a bit better.’ But I shouldn’t be too hard on it, as the flick has heart and, though it’s completely formulaic, it’s perfect for a certain age group below, say, the age of fifteen. It had funny moments for the grown-ups too (like Will Arnett fronting a wanna-be-Poison hair band), but all in all it was pretty tame. Oh well. And now we’ve done that.
Massive Attack – Mezzanine
Have I already reviewed this record for this site? If I haven’t, I’ve been remiss. This is fantastic. I think the first time I heard it, Paul MacLeod was playing it on a boombox between his sets at the Walper Pub. Then we moved to Montreal and this type of music was everywhere, especially in the chic restaurants. This group’s work led me to Portishead, Morcheeba and Supreme Beings Of Leisure, among others. But I always came back to the tracks on this record. It builds from throbbing low ends to ecstatic highs, the vocals soar and caress, and it’s all done with intelligent and delicious power. Oh yes, this is a classic.
Metallica – Garage, Inc.
No matter what Metallica does (detractors take note), the end result is always powerful and sincere. Even if, as is the case here, they toss out a two-disc homage to the bands they cut their own teeth covering, all those years ago. In fact, perhaps it’s even more sincere, since it’s clear they were having a bloody blast the whole time. Metal fans will not be surprised by any of their song selections here, and they bring their own polished sound to these well-established tracks. Not much amiss, here. Turn it the hell up.
This Is Also Radio Hell
I have recently decided that most current radio is a form of arrested development. The Lite FM crowd hears the same shite over and over again as much as the Classic Rawk fans do. The limited rotations offered are appalling, no matter what you choose. How much can you listen to Can You Feel The Love Tonight or Sweet Home Alabama before even the simplest mind starts to chafe for something different, even from the same artist? It’s like they’ve only paid for the rights to play so many tracks and so they’ll hammer us to death with them. Ye g-ds. And I dont expect that people would only listen to new tracks at all times, but there has to be a happy balance somewhere, right?
The Ataris were totally right, on their track from that Fat comp called Short Music: it is still quite plain to see that the radio still sucks. I am sure I’m done with it. For quite a while, I should imagine.
Robert Pollard – Town Of Mirrors
Open the cover of this coffee table collection of EAT-style collage and lyrics, and re-introduce yourself to the restless mind of a genius.
Echobrain – Echobrain
Jason Newstead’s side-project was no threat to Metallica in any way, shape or form, but it still sounds as good as any other mid-90’s pop-rock you enjoyed at the time (despite this being from 2002).
Tracy Chapman – Our Bright Future
This is gentle, back-porch music at its best, and the songs are whip-smart, as always. Yummy.
Metallica – Some Kind Of Monster
Just watched this again and my opinion holds true: they should have gotten past this horseshit privately. We didn’t need to see it, but we did. Ugh. And Lars? Spit out that gum and shut up, man. Please.
Jack Johnson And Friends – Sing-A-Longs And Lullabies For The Film Curious George
This guy writing songs for a kids’ movie is a natural. Chock full of the gentle, now-classic Johnson groove, with some help from great friends like Ben Harper, G. Love and Matt Costa. Sweetness, indeed.
Dear KMA Readers, I am inordinately happy. Metallica’s new record is upon us and it exceeds all hopes and expectations!
Death Magnetic is one of the best records I’ve heard all year.
Every song is perfectly constructed – filled to the brim with great riffs, blistering solos and an energy that only this group can muster when they’re flying high, as they certainly are here. From start to finish, it’s a record that lifts you up out of your day, pulls you into its electric energy and has you banging your head in no time.
I hear tinges and shades from all of their past efforts in this record, which is fantastic. It’s like they’ve taken all the elements that have made this band what they are and focussed them all into these ten tracks with laser-like precision.
Everyone has an opinion about this band, and likely a favourite album. I know I do. It happens when you’re one of the most successful rock bands on the planet, and have been for a long time. People care. Now, there will always be detractors, but even those people (if they gave it enough thought, which sadly some of them don’t) would acknowledge that even the stuff they consider to be lesser in Metallica’s discography still rocks so much harder than a lot of other bands’ best efforts. But, by and large, the fans are legion, for whatever personal reason keeps them coming back, and I believe that this record will please everyone.
It’s new Metallica, it’s old Metallica, it’s freaking amazing.
Put it in and turn it the fuck up. Now go!!
01 That Was Just Your Life
02 The End Of The Line
03 Broken, Beat & Scarred
04 The Day That Never Comes
05 All Nightmare Long
07 The Unforgiven III
08 The Judas Kiss
09 Suicide & Redemption
10 My Apocalypse
Recorded on June 3, 2006 in Nurburging, Germany at the Rock Am Ring Festival, this is Metallica in front of an absolutely huge crowd, all totally into the show. Now, as soon as I say the name Metallica, you should pretty well know what to expect – top volume, blistering guitar solos and all the old songs you’d expect at such an event. Yeah.
Trolling the band’s official web site for a track listing, I also learned that this show was the first event of their 2006 Escape From The Studio Tour, the first time Disposable Heroes had been played in Europe since 1993, the first time Orion had been played in its entirety in a live setting, and the first time The Thing That Should Not Be had been played in Europe since 2004. Geek-fans know this already, or would even care. I only report what I read on the site.
More importantly, to me, at this show the band played the entirety of the Master Of Puppets album from start to finish, in honour of the album’s 20th anniversary since its release. Man, has it really been 20 years? Can you imagine? Yeah, you probably can.
And still there are points about which to bitch, too: Frankly, this was not the best quality, video-wise, although the sound is great. The multitude of cameras jump around far too quickly… it’s like watching a strobe light that’s been attached to a bungee cord. James Hetfield’s voice sounds flat and weak in spots, and Lars is still Lars (and that is what it is, depending on your opinion of him). Perhaps most glaring, to me, was the complete omission of songs from St. Anger. I understand that the Master Of Puppets thing took up a good chunk of stage time, but they’ll do a Misfits cover and yet neglect their most recent album completely (and even that is 3 years old)?
Oh, what the hell, they’re Metallica. They can do whatever they want and people still seem to love them for it.
Of course, you can download the audio of the show from the web site for a reasonable fee. I recommend you do so, if only for the amazing guitar work of the incomparable Kirk Hammett. It is completely unfair to guitar players everywhere every time that guy unleashes an assault.
If you’ve been reading this page at all, you’ll know by now that I really like this band and, while I’m partial to certain periods of their long career, I don’t not like any of it (ed. Make sure you catch that double-negative, natch).
St. Anger rocks, if you approach it in the right way.
Like me, you need to let go of them ever making another Master Of Puppets. It’s not gonna happen (I don’t think so, anyway). See it all started, really, with …And Justice For All, but culminated on the Black album. Their sound changed. And then they cut off their hair, which some would argue was the final death knell. But Black, for example, was so huge they probably have trucks bring all the money to their houses. The new sound worked. And then they made some more records in that vein, but without quite that level of success.
Then they made Garage, Inc., which was a fun mish-mash of stuff, including covers of songs by bands they loved in their own formative years, like the Misfits and Anti-Nowhere League. Hey, that’s cool. Gotta get that cred any way you can, although by this point they really shouldn’t have to…
Long story short, it’s my humble opinion that those cover tunes led to the way this new record sounds. It’s like they were sitting around one day and said, “You know, we love that type of music, and fans bought it up. Why don’t we try doing a whole record of original songs in that style!” And Bob Rock steepled his fingers thoughtfully, nodded sagely, and so it began.
There’s plenty of heavy, heavy riffage here, and the music is, for the most part, rock-solid. Bob Rock played the bass on the record, and Robert Trujillo is an excellent bass player who has fit well in this group of musicians ever since. Musically, though, something’s missing: Kirk, where are the solos? I mean, you are the King of guitar solos, perenially voted Most Inventive Guitarist in those effusive guitar mags. So where is the towering, beautiful fretboard magic this time ’round? Sure, the songs work on their own (if you can overlook a few patches where things bottom out a bit before taking another deep breath and soldiering on), but part of the signature sound of this band comes from those solos. A real loss, here.
And then there’s the lyrics. If you saw Some Kind Of Monster, the movie, you’ll know that the band hired a head shrinker to come in and help them sort out their problems, etc etc. Well, the result of all of this tinkering really shows in the introspective nature of the lyrics on St. Anger. I’m not saying they’re bad, but they are definitely a departure.
In sum, I like this record. It sounds great in the car at top volume. It can stand in the Metallica catalogue, no problem. Blame Bob Rock if you want, but that new sound has been around a long while, now.
When I got my copy of St. Anger, I got this “limited edition” DVD with it. As did a zillion other people, I’m sure. Makes it feel special, one of a kind. Couple that with the fact that they packaged it in a cardboard case
instead of a standard plastic one and, wow, I just might have something collectible here…
Where was I?
Oh yeah, the Rehearsals DVD. Basically, it’s footage of the band in their Rehearsal space, Rehearsing all of the songs from the new album. And, it’s good.
Sure, Hetfield’s still reading the words from cue sheets (it is Rehearsal, after all), and Lars still thinks sticking out his tongue so far he’s licking his chin is a great way for a rock drummer to show his metal-ness. It’s fun to
watch new bassist Robert Trujillo groove, and there’s even a couple of devil-horns flashed… It all comes together in that special way that only Metallica can muster.
Bottom line, if you’re a fan of Metallica, you’ll already love this disc, because it shows the guys doing their thing (and it gives you quite a good, intimate look at their practice space – personally, I liked the hanging, severed head of Justice). If not, it’s worth watching just for the shits and giggles of it, if you can ignore the sloppy, dizzying camera work, the weird effects they added like people learning to use their cameras for the first time… Oh, and the camera men walking right through the shots of other cameras. Skip that, and it’s all good.
Why should I care?
That’s the question that immediately springs to mind when I watch this film. I mean, don’t get me wrong ‘cos I sure do like Metallica, but do I really need to see this?
I understand that band dynamics are always an issue. And when you’re one of the largest acts on the planet, shit can happen. OK, I get that. A band member tragically dies, another one tragically whines unendingly, a bass player leaves (and a new one enters), a new producer changes your sound completely, fans are very critical of each new work and, let’s face it, age and changing priorities make it tough to enjoy the whole rock ‘n roll thing that seemed so fresh at the start of it all. That’s cool. I can dig it.
But don’t foist this on your fans, boys. We don’t care (or, at least, we shouldn’t). Admittedly, dirty laundry needs to get washed, but not in the middle of the street where all the neighbours can see your tightey-whiteys. Just do what you have to do to get your shit together, then come back and knock our socks off. Don’t film it, ferchrissakes. Do you think Frank would’ve allowed this? No, he would’ve punched out the cameraman, and then punched out the guy who thought up the idea in the first place.
Next: Where did they get this head-shrinker? The whole time I watched this I was convinced he was making things worse, not better. It’s like he read some psych books and then, whenever voices got raised, he babbled some memorized platitudes in the hopes that something would stick. Oh, and THEN he starts passing them lyrics suggestions during the writing process? Holy Inappropriate, Batman! I don’t care what his past resume included, this guy wanted to be in the band so badly it must’ve hurt him not to grab a guitar and plunk away. I can see him imagining them slapping him on the back, offering him a job as third guitarist… Idiot. I was amazed no one called him on it. He’s not fit to analyze my cats.
And Bob Rock? Rumour has it now that he’s out and Rick Rubin is in, for the follow-up to St. Anger. And I say good. It’s about time. Sure, they wrote some great songs with this guy at the helm, but he’s one of those guys (like Daniel Lanois and “Mutt” Lang) who use their seat at the control board to change a band into their own vision of how they should be and sound. Look, go start your own band, already, and let these guys do their thing. Oh wait, you did have your own band, and look where that got you… Now I understand everything! And this is not to say that Rubin will be any better. But at least it’ll be different.
It was hard for me to know in this film what was honest reaction and what was playing to the cameras. This was either honest reportage (and, in that case, there goes the Rock God labels these guys worked so hard to earn), or it’s the biggest put-over in the history of metal and they’re still laughing at us for spending money to watch it.
See, Lars, I think he knew the camera was there the whole time. What was that “Jason is the future, Metallica is the past” garbage? Not to mention that he talks non-stop and none of it’s helpful. He really does think that it’s his band. Buddy, I’ve got two words for you: shut up.
Kirk just kind of sat there and, when he did speak, it was more like he’d been trying to think of something to add, just in case they asked him. But here’s a tour of his ranch, and all the weird shit he has in his house…
Worst, they really could’ve supported James more in his efforts to dry out. Sure, it ain’t exactly rock ‘n roll, but the man wants it, and he’s trying. So let him do it without your hassles.
Poor Robert Trujillo. He walked into the middle of this clusterfuck and, while it’s gotta be awesome to be in Metallica, he’d do well to stay out of all of their catty-old-woman crap.
I blame Reality TV culture. You all want to see everything, recorded for your amusement, playable whenever your whim demands it. Your need for every little bit of crap that these people utter is actually defining the way things get done, but it isn’t for the better, I can guarantee you that. Hope you’re happy.
Look, this is simple: If you’re in a band, close the doors, hash out your differences, and get on with making your record. You all know you want to be there, that it’s too good a thing to let it die. So do what you must until you feel you can work together again. But leave us, the fans, out of it. We don’t want to see every move you make in getting there. We want the mystery, we want the end result, and it better be good, dammit.
I’ve scored a coup in my never-ending search for cool CDs by securing my copy of this album in its extended, bonus tracks edition. Those of you reading this who suffer the same affliction, who have a mental checklist of albums you’d love to one day discover, will understand exactly my recent happiness.
Think back 23 years (!) to four young metal-heads with baby faces. This is the record that started it all for Hammett, Burton (R.I.P.), Ulrich and Hetfield. It is certainly not to be denied as excellent in its own right.
Here we have their efforts at playing as fast and as loud as they could (and loving every minute of it). One song slams unrelentingly into the next without much of a break at all.
Listening to this, I am struck by the incredible talent made evident so early. All of the elements are here, and they revelled in it.
Not long ago, I slobbered all over Master Of Puppets as my favourite (and the ultimate) Metallica record. I stand by those thoughts, but this record kicks some serious ass and will be getting the serious play it deserves at my house. Especially Whiplash. Man, that song really rocks.
There are a lot of great metal albums. The genre itself has spawned a zillion cool bands (and just as many really bad and/or funny ones), all trying to be harder, faster, and heavier than the other guys. This is perfect for us, the listeners, because we get the end results of those efforts.
But are there any complete, flawlessly perfect metal albums? Does it matter? Well, think about it for a minute. I say yes, yes it does. I mean, what’s the point of making an album if it isn’t your best?
That said, even the great ones have flaws, minor though they may be. Tracks that might’ve been better if slightly different, or better if they had been left off completely. Solos that fall short of proving or contributing anything. Riffs that go nowhere, even if it’s only briefly, or that just sound wrong altogether. Lyrics written in fits of self-indulgent, flatulent largesse… There’s usually some kind of weak link.
Now, Slayer’s Reign In Blood comes to my mind as being an example of an album as near to metal perfection as one might hope to get. That’s one man’s opinion, and it tips my hand as to what I’m looking for in this inquiry. You’re all intelligent and capable and into it, so I’m sure you can name your own favourites in this vein.
So here I am, listening to Master Of Puppets for the millionth time in my life. Is it perfect? Well… actually, I think it just might be. It has it all: Loud, heavy, chunky rhythms and scalding hot solos from the twin guitar attack, double-bass drum mayhem, solid slabs of indomitable bass and a voice that soars menacingly over all of it, singing of alienation and pain, loss and madness and all the things that make metal awesome. There is atmosphere on this record; it’s not just a collection of slapped-together tracks that fail to flow. It’s an homage to the type, a prototype in its own right, and it’s the inevitable bow to classical leanings as all great metal is and always will be.
But what about Kill ‘Em All or Ride The Lightning or …And Justice For All? Yep, sure, those are great records. I’m not gonna argue that at all. But Puppets still has an edge, in my mind. It is the culmination, the coda of those first three. It has no weak spots at all. No songs that cause it to lag, or bring about indifference in my mind. So it goes.
Look at the track listing below and you’ll realize that, at some point in your life, you’ve heard all of these songs. You may even have known the words and proudly (and rather poorly – sorry) screamed along. You played air guitar and imagined yourself on a stage in front of multitudes waving lit cigarette lighters, and simultaneously you saw in your mind the ice caves where you imagined you lived, unknown, primal and misunderstood, hard and lean and waiting to be unleashed. You had as your banner the grotty old black t-shirt with the album cover on the front, threadbare and pit-stained and formed to your body from use, but still beloved. You thrilled to the promise this album inspires.
Despite what you may think of the band’s new directions, Metallica’s first four records are, like Sabbath and Zeppelin before them, incredible, undeniable and inviolate. And for my money, Puppets is the King of them all. It takes the most out of me while still offering more than it took in return with nothing wasted anywhere. Each song is perfectly crafted and situated, sonic proof that at that one brief period in history, one band was firing on all of its huge cylinders without a miss and, better yet, managed to capture its rapture on tape. It is love and hate, anger and beauty, truth and fiction. It is metal heaven.