Friday, April 20, 2012

Metallica Still Can't Quite Find Their Roots

Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield

Usually when bands hit rock bottom they come out the other end better for the experience.  A case in point is Megadeth.  When Dave Mustaine tried his very best to sell out (and to his credit completely failed) with pop-metal flop Risk (1999), he saw the error of his ways.  Reflecting on that catastrophe, Mustaine admitted:

"When it comes to Risk, there'd be people in there playing and I wouldn't even know who they were or where the parts came from, and I'm not used to that. I was a little bit intimidated by the success we had with Cryptic Writings, so when it came to creating new material after that, it's like being 'power-drunk' - you want more. After the success with 'Trust', I thought to myself 'wow, we've had a number one hit'. We'd had four top five hits in a row, so why would I not want to give [producer] Dan [Huff] even more control when it comes to the producing part on the next record? So I did, and it backfired."

Megadeth's Endgame (2009), however, should have convinced even the most virulent Mustaine hater that the band had learned from their mistakes.

Metallica had a similar rock bottom experience with St. Anger (2003) - seen by most metalheads as a poor release for an already troubled band.  Metallica made a partial comeback with Death Magnetic (2008); and before readers think this post is being written by a 'Tallica hater, I actually kinda like that album.  Then came Lulu (2011)...and the "oh crap please forgive us" quick-release of the Beyond Magnetic (2011) digital EP.

So just when you'd think they'd finally learned their lesson, Metallica has announced  they will - in a continued attempt to make Lulu fade ever further from our minds - play two "classic" albums in their entirety at the upcoming Orion Festival in June at Bader Field Atlantic City, New Jersey:

Metal fans rejoice!  Thrash's flagship has finally returned home!  But wait, which albums are these?  Answer: Ride the Lightning on June 23rd and, as grand finale, The Black Album on June 24th.

Now to most thrash fans, Ride the Lightning is a superb album - arguably their best - but still constituted a slight shift away from their thrashy debut.  But The Black Album?  Really?  In the eyes of pretty much everyone on the planet, isn't that the album that began the suck slide?  And didn't they tour on that album for like three or four straight years?  I mean at this point who hasn't seen them play it live? 

For this thrash fan, all I have to do is hum a few bars of "hey...duh dun da...I'm your life...dun dah...I'm the one takes you there...duh dun da" and I'm pretty much ready to reach for the eject button.       

Unfortunately, when attempting to find their roots Metallica has become the Little Engine That Couldn't.  Sad but true.



  1. I actually like the song Sad But True. I'm not too intimately familiar with the rest of the songs on the album though.

  2. Metallica the band died the same day Cliff did. They have never recovered from that. Consider Master of Puppets to be their requiem. Everything after that is just garbage and all songs sang the same way - "yeah, yeah, yeah I took vocal lessons and it screwed up my singing style forever - yeah, yeah, yeah."

  3. I liked And Justice For All and several songs off of Death Magnetic. However, it's true that Hetfield's earlier more thrashy vocals sound way better.