Here it is. Their swansong. After releasing this album they decided to quit the music business, instead of going to the bother of getting a new bassist; they were so disappointed with Newsted. Plus, Burton used to write all the songs. To play a joke on us all they signed over the rights of the good ole Metallica name to a Lynyrd Skynyrd cover band from Memphis who subsequently released southern hard rock albums much to the delight of the mainstream……..
It is odd that critics pan this album so much seeing that it has got one major masterpiece (One), two minor classics (Blackened, Frayed Ends of Sanity), and a bevy of good songs (Harvester of Sorrow, Dyers Eve, To Live is to Die). That’s what….6 outta 9, and without Burton (RIP) that is impressive seeing that this band now boasted of Newsted and Ulrich as 3/4ths of the rhythm section. Full marks to Hetfield, truly his album here, without a shadow of a doubt. However, this album is inferior to the first three masterpieces.
The songs are extremely long with few exceptions, and hardly have a lot of variations except for “One”. People with short attention spans, beware. The riffs are plodding, and the timbre of the guitars remains the same for the whole of the album, so there goes the listenability factor. The drums are way back in the mix and the production makes it sound as if Lars is just tapping them rather than pounding the hell out of that leather. Hetfield takes a riff, works on a few variations over the course of the song, arranges them with a feel for what should come next, and presto! New album! Of course, this means that the songs are not as interesting or bombastic as they used to be in yesteryears. The most essential part of this album as I have already noted, though, is “One’, a concert standard, with a video which you should totally check out. The subject matter has been presented well, and the music makes sense when seen in relation to the same. They should have left this on Master of Puppets and just quit already. Ok, so the way this is ending up, it seems as if I like only “One”…no! But my liking for other songs is hampered by the fact that that song is vastly superior to 99% of the songs made on Mother Earth, that’s all. On any other album, all this would have been a blast, but here, the rest seems to be written so they could release “One” song. Nothing beats that quiet intro and segue from the gunfire samples into those beautiful first notes reminiscent of “Battery” but far better constructed-it’s the part of the mini symphony that they have created. When I saw them play this alive, wow…….sorry for the fanboyism, but just….wow, this is a blast live. The drumming is the most energetic on the album. After “One” though, I would probably name “Blackened” as the next greatest song here what with the odd riff punctuating a segment, it keeps spinning in my mind for hours after listening to it, great solo by Kirk btw, who I see I haven’t mentioned till now. He is great as always.
The rest of it…..well I don’t mind hearing it sometimes, especially the two songs I mentioned earlier….but I don’t feel like hearing them. I would rather do something else with my time. Like laugh at that Lynyrd Skynyrd cover band who wrote the classic “St Anger”.