Tag: lars ulrich

MUSIC REVIEW | Metallica – Death Magnetic (2008)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: Death Magnetic isn’t bad. It’s even better than good. But I think it ushered in the stage of Metallica’s career where new music just doesn’t really matter all that much.”

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This binge on Metallica’s discography has been fun, but it hasn’t really delivered any surprises. I knew their early years were raw and a little undisciplined. I knew Metallica was filled with ground breakers that are still played constantly today. I knew the double shit bombs of Load and Reload would be a slog. And St Anger proved why it’s the one Metallica album I’ve listened to more than any other.

But here, with their most recent studio effort, I have no idea what to expect from Death Magnetic. I listened to it once, when it came out eight years ago. And that’s it. But that’s not a condemnation, like I didn’t like it was even underwhelmed by it. I think I liked it. I just never got around to it again. So now, as the band continues their longest hiatus ever between albums, it’s time revisit Death Magnetic. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Metallica – St Anger (2003)

In a  nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “It’s one of the most unique and individual Metallica records the band has ever made.”

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After the one-two, wet fish slap that was Load and Reload, Metallica took what was then the longest hiatus in their career between studio albums. It was 2003, and everything I knew about the band was based on the biggest, best known singles. But I shared a flat with a dude who was obsessed. He was trying to track down a copy of every version of every single from every country the band had ever released. And was doing a pretty good job of it.

I was working at a radio station and managed to score an advance copy of the band’s first single in six years. The entire contents of which was the album version and the radio edit of the one song. For the month or two in between that and the album coming out, those two tracks were literally the only songs my housemate listened to. So, with one song firmly ingrained in my brain, I was more prepared than ever for the release of a new Metallica album when it came time for my housemate mate to bombard me with every track of St Anger over and over and over again. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Metallica – Reload (1997)

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After releasing their first four albums in just five years, Metallica settled into a more casual release schedule. The next two records would be spread out over eight years. The first of those was their monumental, self titled, mainstream breakthrough. Then came the totally underwhelming Load. So the fact that it’s follow up was released just one year later, and named to look like an obvious sequel, I expected the absolute worst from Reload. And at 76 minutes long, that’s a lot of potentially terrible music to have trepidations about.

Fuel is very cookie cutter, by the numbers and a perfect example of this period of Metallica where a lot of the same boxes were being ticked with every song, looking for as many radio hits as possible. Yet, for all that, I can’t help but really like this song. James Hetfield’s vocals seem more engaged and sincere than ever, it’s the perfect showcase of Lars Ulrich’s precise, unrelenting drumming, and the infectious riffage from both Hetfield and Kirk Hammett is just plain cool. I assume Fuel is a perfect summation of what old school ‘Tallica fans hate about the Load and Relaod period, but I just dig it. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Metallica – Load (1996)

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After the massive success of their self titled album, Metallica were one of the biggest bands in the world. Selling millions of records and selling out massive stadiums all over the globe. With an ever growing audience to please. Metallica did what so many bands unfortunately do when they reach a certain level. They watered down everything that made them big in the first place, and made the totally safe and boring, Load.

Despite its title playing for edginess, Aint My Bitch is predictable, mundane and feels like it’s built from discarded riffs not good enough to make the cut on their last album. It does have a cool slide guitar solo though, which isn’t a sound you hear too much in metal. Rolling into 2 X 4, Load is only two songs in and already feels like it’s the result of a band simply going through the motions. It’s cookie cutter stuff that feels tossed off at best. Almost like this record was a contractual obligation, not a labour of love or in any creatively fulfilling. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Metallica – Metallica (1991)

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In 1991, a rock album of raw intensity changed the face of music and pushed the limits making the mainstream accept music of a much harder, louder variety than they ever had before. That record was Nirvana’s Nevermind. It gets a lot credit for what rock music has been ever since. And it deserves that credit. But you know what, I don’t think it would be much of a stretch to say that it was a two man job. A job where a good amount of credit should also go to Metallica’s own 1991 game changer, Metallica.  

Straight out of the gate, Enter Sandman backs up my argument. This song is just as well known, well regarded and still present in the world today as Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. I’m not saying one song is better than the other, and I wouldn’t argue with anyone who thought Teen Spirit was a clear winner. But both can lay claim to opening up millions of people to a level of heaviness they would have never heard on mainstream radio before these two songs. With absolutely no facts or figures to base this on, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sandman’s riff is the more instantly recognisable today.

Much more polished and deliberate than any Metallica record before this, Metallica comes with a slower, durgier tempo. Sad But True sounds like it was born under 10 feet of sludge and mud, then bubbled out with each James Hetfield tortured wail, Lars Ulrich demolishing kick drum beat, and Kirk Hammett shred. I’m sure Jason Newstead’s bass helped out too. But he’s basically just following Hetfield’s riffs.

While Holier Than Thou hints at the frantic pace of the band’s earlier work, the studio polish makes sure it never has any of the danger of those older thrashers. And the way Newstead’s steady, thundering work holds this song together makes me almost feel guilty about having a dig at him the last paragraph.

The Unforgiven sure does still get played a lot on the radio. And to paraphrase Forrest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that.

When it comes to Don’t Tread on Me, I’m left with one question; What’s worse, the music, the lyrics, the vocal melody, or the by the numbers guitar solo? Every time I’d think one was in the lead, another would find a way to get even shittier and make me revaluate everything. But it’s OK, because the boys find their mojo and deliver a throwback to their more frantic days with the driving, pounding, relentless Into the Never. Even Hetfield’s voice sounds closer to his eight year younger self from Kill ‘Em All.

I like Nothing Else Matters. It’s a song that still pops up a lot now and I don’t change the radio station when it does. But in the context of binging on Metallica’s catalogue, it stands out as a point where they changed a whole lot at once, and not all for the good. I much rather gentle Metallica when it’s a 40 second intro, juxtaposed with the brutality of something like Battery. Especially with The Unforgiven on the same record, Metallica could have got away with one of these sappy slow downs, but not both.

And not to shit on his record too much, because I really do like it, but Of Wolf of Man might contain the worst James Hetfield lyric of all time, with “Back to the meaning, back to the meaning, of life!” But I’ll be buggered of the riff and vocal work don’t more than make up for it, and make the delivery of these dodgy, dodgy words one of the real highlights of Metallica.
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I always thought it was weird that these guys were eight years and five albums deep before they self titled a record. Self titling seems like a debut album kind of thing. But with 2016 hindsight, this really is the album that should be self titled. Metallica is the defining record for how the world at large sees this band. The singles from Metallica are still the biggest from their career and its legacy is the most impressive. For the casual observer, Metallica is Metallica.


Other Opinions are available. What did these people have to say about Metallica?
Rolling Stone
Sputnik Music

MUSIC REVIEW | Metallica – …And Justice for All (1988)

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In my limited experience with Metallica, I see them as having three distinct phases. The current phase in which they’ve been since their 2003 therapy aided return from extended hiatus, St. Anger. These last 15 or so years have been the legacy years. Like AC/DC or the Rolling Stones, no one really cares too much about a new Metallica record, they just care that it means the band will probably tour and play the hits. Before that were the mega star years, from the self titled record (AKA Black), up to Reload. A time when they could fill stadiums and mainstream radio airwaves. But before that, were the early, hardcore, subculture years. A period that ended with …And Justice for All.

Harkening back to earlier hits, Blackened even has a riff that sounds like it was stolen note for note from their own classic For Whom the Bell Tolls. But the finger tapping shredding of Kirk Hammett makes that self-plagiarism easy to look past. While it’s 10 minute running time means the title track would never be a radio or MTV hit, it does show the evolution towards more digestible riffage. It’s still loud, threatening and heavier than anything dominating the charts in 1988, but you can hear the band focusing a little more on melody and hooks, and less on speed, volume and aggression. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Metallica – Master of Puppets (1986)

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After hearing a lot of growth between Metallica’s first and second albums, while appreciating that they were still able to stick to a sound that was so purely theirs, I was pretty pumped to hear where they took things next. Like all early Metallica albums, there are a few songs here and there that have made their way into my brain over the years that I love, but they’re easily outnumbered by those I have never heard. So while I knew Master of Puppets had a few real highlights that would be great to listen to again, it was discovering new ones, and the idea of continued evolution to the mega star records, that had me most excited.

Ever since Metallica teamed up with the San Francisco philharmonic for S&M sometime in the mid or late 90s, Battery has been my favourite song from the band. Master of Puppets came out when I was only 6 years old and still close to 20 years away from giving this band a chance. So the orchestra aided version was the only version I knew and loved for a long time. The original, Master of Puppets version of Battery is more stripped back, while somehow more intense and awesomely overwhelming at the same time. As much as I love it, maybe the lush orchestration is too pretty for the assault that this song is meant to be. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Metallica – Ride the Lightning (1984)

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According to Rolling Stone, Metallica’s debut Kill ‘Em All was, “the record that defined thrash metal.” So with such impressive beginnings, it was clear that the common problem of the ‘difficult second album’ was going to be even more difficult for these four early 20 somethings. Rolling Stone goes on to say that the difficult follow up, Ride the Lightining, “stands out in the group’s catalogue as the album that introduced melody to its arsenal.” All of that is more than enough to have me more than a little intrigued about Ride the Lightning has to offer.

A finger picked and harpsichord sound isn’t how I would have assumed a Metallica record would start, but it soon gives way to the break neck speed and full on assault I was expecting as Fight Fire With Fire gets down to business. Head banging business. As I wrote that sentence, a surge of nostalgia overtook me. “Head banging” used to be a very common and very loaded phrase. And hearing this song and this vintage Metallica, the term’s loaded connotations seem very earned. (more…)