Metallica

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Kill 'em All

Metallica - Kill 'em All ©1983 Megaforce/Elektra
1. Hit The Lights
2. The Four Horsemen
3. Motorbreath
4. Jump In The Fire
5. (Anesthesia)--Pulling Teeth
6. Whiplash
7. Blitzkrieg
8. Phantom Lord
9. No Remorse
10. Seek And Destroy
11. Metal Militia
12. Am I Evil?

Unabashedly cheesy by today's musical standards, the Metallica debut album certainly took the world by storm. Hardcore bands figured the Metallica boys had heard hardcore and tried to metallize it, headbangers didn't care...they just banged their heads faster. While this was a sophomore year of high school staple for my walkman, I don't really have the same feeling for it any more. The production is better (believe it not) than any album released after it until the black abomination as you can actually hear all the instruments rather than burying the bass. But the songs are so stereotypical metal, especially the lyrics. Regardless, this album is a classic as it helped define both a genre and an era of metal. Incidentally, if you don't already have a copy of it, scour your record stores until you find a used copy that contains the deleted songs "Blitzkrieg" and the incredible "Am I Evil?" It's worth it.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/1997

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Ride The Lightning

Metallica - Ride The Lightning ©1984 Megaforce/Elektra
1. Fight Fire With Fire
2. Ride The Lightning
3. For Whom The Bell Tolls
4. Fade To Black
5. Trapped Under Ice
6. Escape
7. Creeping Death
8. The Call Of Ktulu

Metallica's second release shows greater song maturity than the debut. Naturally, as with anyone else into metal, this album was a soundtrack for my high school years and today it still is a decent listen. By this point, Metallica had already fallen into a pattern for their albums that probably would have continued if Burton hadn't been killed. The first song "Fight Fire With Fire" is a raging thrasher, double bass drums and all. The second song (the title track) is an almost epic about the electric chair. "For Whom the Bell Tolls", one of the most popular Metallica songs, is a slower, grinding song with simple, but devastating guitar work. Then comes the "ballad" (as Metallica does them) "Fade to Black", which I think every sixteen year old kid relates to at one point or another. The second side continues with a midtempo song, then another midtempo song (the great "Escape", which has some very "Fuck you world" type lyrics), then you get "Creeping Death", which is yet another classic that can't be denied. The next studio album for Metallica follows the pattern of songs well, with similar songs appearing at the same point on the album.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/1997

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Master Of Puppets

Metallica - Master Of Puppets ©1986 Elektra
1. Battery
2. Master Of Puppets
3. The Thing That Should Not Be
4. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
5. Disposable Heroes
6. Leper Messiah
7. Orion
8. Damage Inc.

Without a doubt one of the most important releases in the history of metal, this masterpiece from Metallica is their finest moment - before they gave us the disappointing ...And Justice for All, before the mediocre "Black Album" and years before the unmentionable "stuff" that we call "The Loads" with {cough} affection. We start off with "Battery", a great thrash riff with an ass-kicking interlude and a horrible solo - pretty much describes most early Metallica songs, eh? Here we're introduced to the classic what-a-bitch-to-play string of triplets, later stolen by countless mediocre death metal bands in their twilight years. "Master of Puppets" - which is by my reckoning one of Metallica's best riffs - has a cool progressive edge to it and as a bonus contains a great harmonised interlude from Hetfield. "The Thing That Should Not Be" has a decent riff as well, but gets tiresome towards the end due to sludgy pace coupled with lack of variation. Unlike a lot of other bands that play slow, Metallica aren't very smart, so they keep repeating the verse and chorus until they think it is satisfactorily long. Anyway, we move on to "Sanitarium" - lots of building up, but largely anticlimatic. One of my least favourite cuts on the record - even the surprisingly good solo from Hammett cannot redeem it. Things really start picking up with "Disposable Heroes", though - great riff with very appropriate lyrics and vocals (the riff does sound like a machine gun), acceptable drumming from Lars, very good bass from Burton and endless pentatonics from Hammett. "Leper Messiah" has more adequate drumming from Lars but some great work from the rest: Hetfield rips, Hammett shreds (well, for a change!) and Burton plucks away with those magic fingers. "Orion" is definitely where the album climaxes; it is one of my all time favourite tracks from any band. Melancholia and anger (ironically without Hetfield's vocals - says something about their effectiveness, doesn't it?) are powerfully conveyed, and not a second of the eight and a half minutes is excessive. It has a strangely nostalgic value - this is the stuff I loved and worshipped during my formative years and it still brings to mind some of the memories and feelings from that period that somehow got associated with the moving riffs on here. "Damage Inc." is an appropriate conclusion - a thrash anthem with more speedy guitar and more horrible solos. Hetfield and Burton really shine on this album; the bass playing is especially exceptional considering the period that this was released in and the competence of their peers - Tom Araya had problem fingering the bass and Steve Harris was being worshipped for playing it a little loud when Burton was noodling away the complex riff to "Master of Puppets". A truly great release from the masters of speed metal.

Review by Rahul Joshi

Review date: 02/1999

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Garage Days Re-revisited

Metallica - Garage Days Re-revisited ©1987 Elektra
1. Helpless
2. The Small Hours
3. The Wait
4. Crash Course in Brain Surgery
5. Last Caress / Green Hell

Everyone knows the story of Metallica's rise to fame and super stardom. Their first three LPs were undeniable metal classics, each one garnering the band more attention than the one before. Tragically, in September 1986, bassist Cliff Burton was killed in that bus crash in Sweden while on tour, thus altering the trajectory of Metallica forever. Granted, the band went on to achieve stratospheric heights of fame that no other heavy metal band has ever experienced, but no doubt the surviving members of that crash have never quite gotten over the loss of their friend. (See: Some Kind of Monster DVD)

After numerous auditions, Metallica settled on Flotsam & Jetsam's Jason Newsted and immediately went about recording a quick EP worth of covers in order to acclimate Newsted to the band. This EP, which the band describes as "Not Very Produced by Metallica", turned out to be one of the better entries into the band's catalogue, but also began the band's unfortunate trend of recording better cover songs than their own originals. It was also one of the rare instances where you could even hear Newsted's bass anywhere in the mix.

The selection of songs came from the band's own influences, including New Wave of British Heavy Metal, early 80s punk and the in-betweener Killing Joke, who defied simple categorization in their early days. The band rips through the songs with tons of energy, making this EP quite outstanding. While the band claims it isn't very produced, the recording aptly captures the band's energy and sound without overthinking it. Considering this band would often take months or years to complete records, it's a shame they forgot that it was possible to make good records quickly. The EP, snapped up by eager Metallica fans worldwide, also acted as a bit of an introduction to the bands Metallica covered. Diamond Head, for instance, has no doubt benefitted from Metallica's endorsement of their music. However, it was the Misfits whose popularity seem to explode after the paired up covers of "Last Caress/Green Hell". Ironically, many metal fans rushed out to buy the original versions and were stunned at the lo-fi and technically lacking Misfits. But despite that reaction by some fans, the merchandising machine of the Misfits went into full throttle mode and gave that band a second life (despite the fact they had broken up well before the Metallica EP came out).

Ironically, the EP was titled either the $9.98 or $5.98 EP, depending on the format of LP, CD or cassette. It went out of print at some point, turning it into a collector's item that fetches far higher prices these days. The songs were included on the 1998 Garage Inc., along with more covers songs.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2010

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...And Justice For All

Metallica - ...And Justice For All ©1988 Elektra
1. Blackened
2. ...And Justice For All
3. Eye Of The Beholder
4. One
5. The Shortest Straw
6. Harvester Of Sorrow
7. The Frayed Ends Of Sanity
8. To Live Is To Die
9. Dyers Eve

What happened? Well...Cliff Burton died, Newsted came in, and our mighty metal warriors have fallen from grace. ...And Justice For All is quite good at times, sometimes even brilliant, but cannot be said to be even remotely consistent or comparable (in terms of quality) with the first three. "Blackened" is a good enough opener with the technical (well, at least back then it was technical) riff and "complex" structure, but then comes the boring title track with the same damn riff repeated for 9 minutes. It gets tiresome at 3 minutes, extremely annoying at 6 and unbearable at the full 9. "Eye of The Beholder" is a pointless exercise is midtempo thrash, and only on "One" do we get a track really worthy of being called a "Metallica song". Good, slow acoustic intro with a machine-gun thrash climax. Drumming is actually quite good, here. Solos are tasteful as well. Unfortunately, the journey into absolute boredom is resumed with "The Shortest Straw" (a waste of time listening to it) and the mediocre "Harvester of Sorrow" (in spite of a promising start). "The Frayed Ends of Sanity" has more pointless riffage - rather meaningless collection of notes with weak vocals (James' weakest among all studio releases). The excellent technical interlude is only played for about 30 seconds before they revert back to the drivel the rest of the song is composed of. "To Live is to Die" is a well done tribute to Burton, and though not as sad as the instrumental (Orion) on Master of Puppets it does express sorrow and loss rather well. It also contains some spoken word of a short "poem" from Cliff - a poem that is eerily appropriate in light of his death. "Dyers Eve" perhaps has Metallica's most complex riff - amazingly technical for speed metal and tight as hell. James' vocals are weak throughout the album, and the production though enhancing the bass drum has totally buried the bass guitar. Overall a pretty decent offering, but the excessive length does detract from our enjoyment. Comes across as a rather contrived effort.

Review by Rahul Joshi

Review date: 02/1999

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Metallica

Metallica - Metallica ©1991 Elektra
1. Enter Sandman
2. Sad But True
3. Holier Than Thou
4. The Unforgiven
5. Wherever I May Roam
6. Don't Tread On Me
7. Through The Never
8. Nothing Else Matters
9. Of Wolf And Man
10. The God That Failed
11. My Friend Of Misery
12. The Struggle Within
13. So What (Japanese Import Bonus Track)

Talk about a disappointment...I was a sophomore in high school and really into Metallica when this album came out. Man, I was psyched. "Awright! New music from my favorite band! Rock!" I sooooo wanted this album to be good. But no, instead of extended blasts of speed from the reigning gods of metal, we got this--a tepid, although nicely produced, blob of mid-to-slow-tempo product expressly tailored for mass consumption by meathead teenage athletes with short attention spans. And the cover is mostly black--how Spinal Tap-esque. Yech. Well, whaddya know, all the morons on the team bus, who previously thought I was weird for listening to these guys, jumped on the Metallica bandwagon. Of course, those same idiots also ran out to buy, and wouldn't listen to anything previous to, the disappointing ...And Justice For All. What sheep. Enough social criticism. On to the music.

Most of the songs suck. Of the five tracks played on the radio, which I won't bother listing because if you're reading this, you already know which they are, I am bored with the three rockers and hate the two power ballads. Power ballads on a Metallica disc? Heresy! James has a decent voice but he shouldn't sing—he brings the album's already shaky momentum to a shuddering halt. Twice. Of the other seven tracks, the only decent offerings are "Holier Than Thou" and "Through the Never," which are OK but not especially great. None of the remaining five, although they all contain decent riffs, lives up to its potential. A lethal combination of bitterness, excess verbiage, and cheesy choruses sink the songs. James, dude, I know you have an axe to grind but please take your Freshman English teacher's guidance--edit your work at least once before you turn in the final version.

On the plus side, having Bob Rock twiddle knobs instead of Flemming Rasmussen resulted in the band's best production to date. The sound is clean and all the instruments are audible, for a change. And the bonus track on the import version, a cover of The Anti-Nowhere League's hilariously obscene "So What," is inspired. Matter of fact, it's the best thing on the disc. If you don't already have or don't plan to buy Garage, Inc., get the import for "So What" and don't bother to play the rest unless you're in a masochistic frame of mind. If you already have Garage Inc., don't bother to get this album; you can hear the popular-yet-boring tracks on the radio and if you have some perverse need to listen to the other drivel, a neighbor or friend is bound to have a copy.

Review by Jonathan Arnett

Review date: 08/1999

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Load

Metallica - Load ©1996 Elektra
1. Ain't My Bitch
2. 2x4
3. The House Jack Built
4. Until It Sleeps
5. King Nothing
6. Hero Of The Day
7. Bleeding Me
8. Cure
9. Poor Twisted Me
10. Wasting My Hate
11. Mama Said
12. Thorn Within
13. Ronnie
14. The Outlaw Torn

The career path Metallica took after the death of Cliff Burton has been subject to an incredible amount of scrutiny, reverence, hyperbole and hysteria by fans and press alike. After the meandering ...And Justice For All and the exasperatingly mainstream ear candy of the self-titled album, Metallica achieved superstardom unlike any other metal band before. They toured the world countless times, made more in t-shirt sales than you or I will make in our lifetimes, and probably lost touch with their roots in the process. It took the band five years to record a follow up to the Black Album and the resulting Load has been the key moment where the more "metal" of Metallica's fanbase felt entirely betrayed. An enormous amount of criticism was heaped upon the band for fashion choices and their hairstyles, which seems more like something you'd expect from the top 40 crowd. Load was actually a better artistic statement than the Black Album and has aged considerably better than the men who created it.

To get some matters out of the way, it needs to be stated Load is entirely flawed in several regards. There are some bad songs on this record that can easily be skipped. And even the good songs suffer from the band's diarrhea of the studio, where they extend good songs by a minute or two too long more often than not. No one particularly needs to hear a ton of Kirk Hammett solos on every track. But despite the miscues and marginal material, Load isn't half bad. It does show some growth in songwriting, moving away from the maddening simplicity and flimsy material on the Black Album. James Hetfield shows continued growth as a singer (as opposed to menacing shouter, as he was in the band's early days). The good songs are ones that still sound good over a dozen years later, such as "Until It Sleeps", the pensive "Bleeding Me" or the mildly aggressive "Wasting My Hate". Even the western-tinged (or southern-rockified) "Mama Said" stands up over time.

Load (and subsequently, Metallica's career) could have been improved by trimming the fat from this record. As we all know, the band recorded twenty-seven tracks during the session and spread it out over two releases. Unfortunately, most of the tracks, when taken as a whole, are anywhere from mediocre to entirely rotten. Metallica was not out of line in asking their fans to progress with them, but they were certainly overstepping their bounds by releasing a seventy-eight minute album that would have had a far better impact as a forty minute record. Just because a compact disc can store eighty minutes of music doesn't mean you should fill it to the brim.

Load is a decent record that features far more B-side material than should have been permitted. Sadly, it would prove to be the last album of reasonably quality this group would record. As we all have witnessed since 1996, Metallica has degenerated into a pathetically dysfunctional trio of men (Jason Newsted got wise and bailed on the act in early 2001) that is so absolutely removed from their humble beginnings that they apparently couldn't find a decent riff even if it broadsided them on the freeway.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2008

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Hero Of The Day [Single]

Metallica - Hero Of The Day Single ©1996 Vertigo
1. Hero Of The Day
2. Overkill
3. Damage Case
4. Stone Dead Forever
5. Too Late Too Late

Aside from the title track, which is from Load, the material for this single is taken from a rehearsel before Lemmy's(Motorhead, duh) 50th birthday. It features takes on "Overkill", "Damage Case", "Stone Dead Forever", and "Too Late Too Late", all of which Motorhead recorded in 1979. Now I know this was recorded on a 2-track and probably not in much seriousness, but now I understand why Metallica takes years to make albums. James Hetfield has such a wimpy voice. Comparing it to the mighty Lemmy's rasp is like comparing, well, Halford and Hanson. It must take weeks of hundreds of takes for Hetfield to actually get a decent singing voice. Ha ha ha.

Okay, enough ribbing. This is kinda neat in a collector's way. Four Motorhead songs done by Metallica, who was originally heavily inspired by the British thugs. There's no way Metallica can even begin to match Motorhead, but this is fun to listen to, nonetheless. Especially when you compare Jason Newsted's teeny-weeny bass sound to Lemmy's godlike noise. Face it. When archaeologists dig up CD's a thousand years from now...they'll revere Motorhead.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/1997

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Reload

Metallica - Reload ©1997 Elektra
1. Fuel
2. The Memory Remains
3. Devil's Dance
4. The Unforgiven II
5. Better Than You
6. Slither
7. Carpe Diem Baby
8. Bad Seed
9. Where The Wild Things Are
10. Prince Charming
11. Low Man's Lyric
12. Attitude
13. Fixxxer

The first warning one must put to a review is if you didn't like Load, you will absolutely despise Reload so read no further. The tracks featured here are leftover from the Load sessions...so these are the tracks that weren't strong enough to make it the first time around. Recycled Metallica, if you will. And frankly, it shows. I liked the last album, perhaps a rare voice in the vast amount of negative criticism heaped on the band. My only beef was retaining the name Metallica, rather than changing it to the Hetfield/Ulrich Experience. Metallica is no longer a thrash or speed or really even a heavy metal band. Instead, I would refer to them as Suburban Mom Metal, the kind of stuff that everyday women feel safe playing while doing everyday chores.

Listening to first nine songs of this one I can only wonder what possessed them to re-use some of these tracks? While a lot of people like to blame the band's downhill slide on Jason Newstead not being the clone of Cliff Burton, keep in mind who writes the music in this band. Newsted's home studio material is much heavier and brutal than this. You can solely blame the Hetfield/Ulrich axis for coming with mostly plodding tempos and totally weak guitar performance just makes this a long tedious listen. The only track that really works and sounds like it is completely fleshed out to its potential is the slowest one, "Low Man's Lyric". In fact, Metallica has actually been more intriguing playing these kind of numbers the past two releases.

For the most part, this just seems like an attempt to keep their name alive in the late 90's as normally you can't expect a new Metallica album for five years. This package is lacking any sort of heart and soul or the personality that marked the band a decade ago, but I'm sure this will become the biggest seller for moms in households all across America.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 12/1997

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Garage Inc.

Metallica - Garage Inc. ©1998 Elektra
CD one:
1. Free Speech For The Dumb
2. It's Electric
3. Sabbra Cadabra
4. Turn The Page
5. Die, Die My Darling
6. Loverman
7. Mercyful Fate
8. Astronomy
9. Whiskey In The Jar
10. Tuesday's Gone
11. The More I See
CD two:
1. Helpless
2. The Small Hours
3. The Wait
4. Crash Course In Brain Surgery
5. Last Caress/Green Hell
6. Am I Evil?
7. Blitzkrieg
8. Breadfan
9. The Prince
10. Stone Cold Crazy
11. So What
12. Killing Time
13. Overkill
14. Damage Case
15. Stone Dead Forever
16. Too Late Too Late

Of Garage Inc, a friend of mine said to me: "It's pretty good, man...just pretend it's not Metallica!" So here we are, liking this band in spite of ourselves, in spite of the band themselves. And frankly, Garage Inc is so impressive in it's delivery and sincerity, I can't believe it's Metallica anyway. Like anything they've released with the word "load" anywhere in the title, Ulrich's bush league drumming (what the hell happened to this guy?) is a serious flaw. However, guitarist Kirk Hammet has courted a sort of melodious restraint, an approach which sounds new to these ears, while James Hetfield's transition to actual singing can only be described as triumphant; the guy is turning into a damn dynamic vocalist. Peaks are rampant throughout disc one; Sabbath's powerful, plundering weirdo love song "Sabbra Cadabra", the stunning, stop-the-presses rendition of Thin Lizzy's "Whiskey In the Jar", Skynyrd's "Tuesday's Gone" (featuring some cool blues vocals care of COC's Pepper Keenan) and the must-have-been-a-bitch-to-cut Mercyful Fate medley might be one of the most complex ditties the band has ever laid to vinyl. The slightly less illustrious disc two puts nearly a decade of various covers, oddities and otherwise oft-sought but rarely heard b-sides through the money machine, including two ancient Budgie gems, four (ill-advised) Motorhead marauders, and the hilarious, obtusely obscene "So What", care of the Anti- Nowhere League, one of the most effective "fuck you!" songs ever written (but don't let your mom hear this one). Definitely cool to see this renowned band resurrecting various metal artifacts, dredging up their smug, smiling carcasses and propping them up for the mainstream likes of Entertainment Tonight's immaculate "journalistic" endeavors. So color me surprised: Garage Inc is a healthy, cold shot, which somewhat redeems the band in my eyes, after a couple of bland, if nicely relayed rock offerings.

Review by Lee Steadham

Review date: 01/1999

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St. Anger

Metallica - St. Anger ©2003 Elektra
1. Frantic
2. St. Anger
3. Some Kind Of Monster
4. Dirty Window
5. Invisible Kid
6. My World
7. Shoot Me Again
8. Sweet Amber
9. The Unnamed Feeling
10. Purify
11. All Within My Hands

No one even remotely into music could have escaped the media blitz surrounded Metallica's new album, St. Anger. Rave after rave advance review poured in, proclaiming it to be a return to their metal glory, the greatest thing since Master Of Puppets, the sole reason to live for music fans, and the surefire way to get out those tough stains.

My story is not unique. Metallica was the band that introduced me to true heavy metal, and I listened to the first four albums religiously. Post-Black Album I felt betrayed and my love turned to hatred. I scoffed whenever they were mentioned, thought my friends and I were oh-so-witty when we referred to them as Topfortyica and Selloutica, and almost pissed myself laughing when I heard "Until It Sleeps". But deep inside I wanted to love them again. I didn't have any hopes that it would actually happen, but I really did want my Metallica back. So even though I was leery of the hype, I really wanted it to be true. And that is what disappoints me most about this album: they got my hopes up just to spit in my face again.

Is St. Anger heavier? Yes, but contrary to the millions of lemmings who will defend this abortion to the end, heaviness isn't everything. If the Black Album was dumbed down, St. Anger is clinically retarded. In the past their wimpy radio fodder had some hooks; now the hooks have been removed and replaced with nu-metal stop-start guitars and some pointless double bassing which can barely be heard over the annoying and ever-present tin can sound of Mr. Ulrich's snare. The lyrics have been no great shakes since ...And Justice For All, but now they round the bend from silly cock rock to embarrassing. The "personal" lyrics seem like they were cribbed from self-help books and dittos handed out at therapy sessions, except of course when Mr. Hetfield gets "extreme" and comes up with such classic lines as "Kill, kill, kill" in "All Within My Hands". Speaking of therapy, band therapist (yes, that's right) Phil Towle receives one of the two thank yous (the other being Bob "Bon Jovi" Rock). How sweet.

Despite all their talk of editing themselves, the songs drone on and on for an average of seven minutes when in most cases there is only two minutes of material present. This album would be stretching it at thirty minutes, so imagine what trying to sit through seventy-five minutes is like. Metallica Inc. was obviously going for a dirty production sound here; perhaps this is what they meant when they talked about an Entombed influence. Nice thought, but it doesn't fit the music. Nu-metal is supposed to be shiny and studio fresh, and despite all protests to the contrary that is what this is: a bloated, self-important nu-metal album made by a bunch of guys going through a midlife crisis.

If Metallica had wanted to make a punk album and cut down the song length by one-fifth, this might have been an interesting distraction. As it is, St. Anger is just long, dumb, and boring. I don't know what else to say, except to congratulate James, Lars, and Kirk (not Robert, because I'm sure he doesn't get a cut of the album) on receiving my money. You fooled me guys...well done.

Review by Scott Wilcox

Review date: 06/2003

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