Category Archives: Metallica

…And Justice For All -METALLICA -1988

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”.

-Baba T

From the Pits – METALLICA (30/10/11,Bangalore)

The verdict is in and it is unanimous: Metallica simply blew everything away on 30thOctober, 2011 at the (what should be known as a legendary venue by now, at least from the perspective of the Indian metal fan) Palace Grounds, Bangalore. I thought that I would pull out a few sneering remarks about how some fans had never heard anything but “Nothing Else Matters” and how the collective orgasm on the opening chords of “Enter Sandman” just killed a few of my brain cells, but I have to refrain from doing so and give both Metallica and the Bangalore crowd the silent approval of the devils horns.

Take a bow, Metallica.

Yes, The Black Album got way too much attention; there was no need to play “The Memory Remains” and I would have jumped even more if they had substituted “Fuel” with “Whiplash” but this is just nitpicking. The crowd singing along with the chorus of “Memory Remains” produced an amazing moment, what with Hetfield showing his appreciation by standing still and letting the crowd do their thing, I shouted myself hoarse along with everybody else singing “ off to Never Never Laaaand!!!”, and even the hardened cynic could not deny the infectious rhythm of Fuel. And these were the weak parts of the show, ladies and gentlemen.

To me the best part was that the crowd popped huge, and I mean, HUGE, for Master of Puppets, For Whom The Bell Tolls, Creeping Death (but again were comparatively silent for Ride the Lightning) and Sanitarium. Everyone sang along to the songs; the fan-band connect was incredible, and this ain’t some 10 score pub crowd we are talking about here.  I was hoping that we would get the customary segue from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly soundtrack into Creeping Death, and I was not disappointed a whee bit. I shit myself when I saw Eli Wallach (Tuco) running towards the graveyard. (I love the way in which Metallica pay tributes to their influences btw). We got the whole video (minus the traditional fireworks) treatment right into the growling intro of Creeping Death. Awe-freaking-some.

I was hoping that they would pull out Orion or The Call of the Ktulu or at least some more from Kill ‘em All, but that’s ok, because whatever was there was off the friggin charts. It was like a dream to see freaking Metallica friggin LIVE. Yes, it is easy for the people from the States to scoff at this point, but think about it. The Indian Metalhead gets one chance in a lifetime to see Maiden, Metallica, and Megadeth, and there is no denying that when it comes to metal these bands are the best. This was huge for us.

So to conclude, yes, their last good album came out in 1989, yes, they sold out and then produced a weak imitation called Death Magnetic, not to talk of St Anger which they themselves ignore.. But in this live show, this band gave us the absolute best, note for note, beat for beat, riff for riff. This was a quality show, and the fans knew it. History has been made, and nobody is gonna be forgetting last night anytime soon.

-This is Baba T, reporting live from the pit.

PS – Dear Mainstram Media, shut the fuck up if you don’t know what you are talking about. I am looking at you TOI, stupid prole sell out newspaper. At least do yourselves a favour and listen to the fucking songs or at least ask somebody about the names of the songs played. Assholes. And to think that people pay to read that pile of faeces and I write this blog for free.

PPS – Welcome to one more new feature at TDSR, the live show review.

PPPS – This is only a review of the music played at the show, not of the security and logistics arranged by DNA Networks. A whole new site could be put up about the same, and I hope to god I never go through something like the Delhi fans in my life.

St.Anger – METALLICA – 2003

This is Metallica‘s most panned album. Their lowest point, after the departure of Jason Newsted (who was a bit like an appendix, at least in the studio). As result, I didn’t really approach this album with too much expectation. And in the end I can report this…’s great 40 pc of the time and an absolute MESS the rest of the time.

I’m a little irritated at Metallica‘s tendency to record such hit and miss music after And Justice for All. I’ve heard and reviewed everything since then, and not a single album since has been of uniform quality. That’s irritating.  In a similar vein, “Frantic” is an excellent start, despite “My lifestyle determines my death style” being the single most terrible line in Rock n’ Roll history. It’s raw and in your face and powerful and all that. At least in the beginning, the speed is truly and amazingly palpable. It’s quite a rush.

Speaking of raw, Lars Ulrich’s snare drum got a lot of criticism. I think it sounds great, and really fits in with the tone of the album. Respect. A two fingered salute to the critics. After ‘Frantic’ comes ‘St.Anger’, which is a great song. One for the setlist. I LOVE slow bass groove in the verse of St.Anger. The anger and hatred is epic. This is proper garage metal brilliance.

Often its extremely ugly music, and in a good way. Don’t kill me metal purists, but I think ‘Invisble Kid’ sounds like Korn’s finest at times. Great lyrics, too, and the song holds its own despite the lack of a real chorus of the sort normal people are used to.

Metallica made a big deal of how they were going back to their Kill ‘em All thrash roots. I think this is some way further back than that. By all means, this is less produced (and in some way better) than their hallowed early days. The songs are also mercifully short and in many ways to me recall the Punk Rock ethic which predates Thrash Metal.

Another such ‘big deal’ was the lack of guitar solos, which effectively nullify any evidence of Hammett’s contribution.  As it is, I’m not wild about Hammett’s soloing and while less skilled than Hammett for sure, Hetfield is a better composer of solos (the solo in Nothing else matter could not possibly be better, for instance). Either ways, the garage metal ethic works up till ‘Invisible Kid’.

Unfortunately, things start to go downhill from there. Big time. Midway through the album, I slowly started to realize that the song structures didn’t make that much sense anymore, that the fury wasn’t really that honest and that the tempo changes and riffs were mostly the same. ‘Sweet Amber’ has one of the most pointlessly messy song structures I have every witnessed, and the song has absolutely no coherence. Is this a band which has been making songs for more than 20 years? It’s hard to believe. All the songs except the ones that I have mentioned are quite faceless, and what I notice is that I do like certain ideas in most songs, but waiting for them between the musical equivalent of being jackhammered in the head is not usually worth it.

I’m convinced that at the time of compiling this album, Metallica simply didn’t have enough good songs to fill the running time of the record. More and more I think (with the hindsight of having heard Death Magnetic) that Metallica is past its prime as far as musical output goes. Even so, they will continue to sell like hotcakes thanks to the borrowed steam of the first few albums and a few good songs from subsequent albums, not mention the PR machine.

In the final totting up, only something like the first four songs are worth it. The rest is far too much of amateurish garage band stuff NOT to be included in their setlist 25 years down the line. I say this not out of conceit of my own opinion. I’m talking off a James Hetfield interview that I saw. Thats the greatest testimony of the fact that in truth, this does not sound right.

-El Bajista

Give them another chance. Try out other METALLICA reviews HERE.

Raise the devil’s horns to our METAL reviews HERE.

Death Magnetic – METALLICA – 2008

Right, before you start reading this, I’ll just give a disclaimer that I have a lot to say about this album, so please bear with me. For those who could’nt care less, I’ll synopsize. It’s a great return to form for Metallica, but it’s no Master of Puppets yet. Moving on….

Great cover!!

Great cover!!

Death Magnetic is supposed to be Metallica’s redemption record. Supposedly, they have their mojo back after a supposedly disastrous outing in St.Anger (I’ll pass my judgment on that soon enough). On the first listen, it seems like they truly are firing on all cylinders. The riffery is right on, the drums are bashing and the bass in thundering.

Lars Ulrich has finally decided that he is not content with being in the biggest band in the world. He also wants to be one of the best drummers there is. His consistency throughout this record is baffling and brilliant, coming as it does from a 40+ man who is about the height of a water bottle. At times, his drumrolls sound like the ghost of Keith Moon got into him. Damn, he plays fast.

Rob Trujillo(bass) definitely makes an impact, because of the sheer heaviness of his sound. It’s a full fat B-string laden sort of sound that adds an immeasurable depth. James Hetfield’s main competition for the best right hand in metal can be found in Metallica itself, it seems. I think its fair to say that Cliff Burton’s approach to the bass was like a great lead guitarist, and Trujillo’s is that of a bitchin’ bass player. Think about what I just said. Oh, and don’t ask me about Jason Newsted. I think he was less sure footed than either and was always mixed too low to be anything other than a hovering ghost.

“That was Just Your Life” isn’t the greatest start to this album. Sure its thrashy and energetic, but it doesn’t have the X factor that made “Hit the Lights” and “Battery” thrash classics. Therein lies the problem, according to me. I can tell its heavy thrashy riffing, but why isn’t the album speaking to me? I’m flummoxed. Also, while I’ve heard some pretty heavy stuff in the past few years, the length and pounding meted out by tracks like “Broken, Beaten and Scarred” ultimately dents the accessibility of the record.

New!! Improved?

New!! Improved?

Thankfully, the ballady side of Metallica is suffering from no such impotence. “The Day that Never Comes” is one of the best pieces of music Metallica has come up with. Great video too. James Hetfield shines on this track, both singing wise and lyrically, despite the awful pun “son shine”. Urk. I detect a few Iron Maideny harmonized guitars here and there, which hold interest right through. Even Unforgiven III is a great song, despite the slightly gauche horns in the beginning.

Of the thrashers though, the instrumental “Suicide & Redemption” stands head and shoulders above the rest and takes its rightful place as a great Metallica instrumental.

I’m not particularly fond of all the songs here, but its good to hear Metallica doing what they are good at, after a brave but ultimately ill-advised detour into Hard Rock with Blues (see my Re/Load reviews) and the massively panned St.Anger (which I’m yet to pass judgment on). People have talked a lot about how great Death Magnetic is. It’s a good album, in my opinion, but I don’t think it will match the first four great Metallica albums 20 years from now. Even so, I’m hoping time will prove me wrong and will make this sound right.

- El Bajista


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