METALLICA

"Hardwired ... to Self-Destruct" (Warner Bros.; 2008)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

It's so tough to review a new Metallica album without worrying that I'm overselling it ... again. I read through my previous reviews of Metallica albums, reviews written when the CDs were originally released and, although the reviews were 100% honest at the time they were written, sometimes I wonder exactly what I was thinking. I mean, I listened to "St. Anger" the other day for the first time in months, if not years ... and it was tough to get through. The snare drum sound that so many complained about grated on my nerves like a cheese grater on skin.

That being said, I'm about to give the latest Metallica CD, "Hardwired ... to Self-Destruct," another stellar, four guitarsaw review (with a caveat, which I'll explain later) and this thought is in my head: "Are you going to read this in three or four years time and wonder what you were thinking then?

Maybe. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Because right now, I love the new Metallica album. It's chock-full of chugging riffs, blistering lead solos, and a thundering rhythm that drives the entire album at a punishing pace. And by album, I mean this two CD,  12-track set (3 CDs if you go for the deluxe version with its extra live CD ... and why wouldn't you? I mean, it's got a Deep Purple cover song on it).

"Hardwired ..." is the Metallica CD that its fans have been waiting for. None of the experimentation of the "Load" and "Re-Load" albums, none of the questionable drum choices of "St. Anger," and none of the controversy of "Death Magnetic" (remember that compressed or non-compressed version nonsense?).

"Hardwired ..." is just pure explosive Metallica, filled with rage and dynamite, the kind of album that dares you not to bang your head or pump your fist as you listen because it knows you can't resist.

Yeah, there's one or two tracks that sound a little like filler (I'll let you decide which ones) but there's mostly tracks that simply deliver the goods. My favorites are "Now That We're Dead" with its chugging rhythm, "Here Comes Revenge" and the fiery closer "Spit Out the Bone."

You'll remember I mentioned a four guitarsaw caveat earlier? Well, the fact that Metallica pays beautiful tribute to the fallen Lemmy of Motorhead, on the pounding track, "Murder One," pushed them easily into the four guitarsaw territory as far as I'm concerned. If you haven't had a chance, check out the video on YouTube. It'll make you laugh, it'll make you cry, it'll make you reach for your Motorhead collection.

Bottom line: "Hardwired ... To Self-Destruct" is about as good Metallica as we're going to get. The good news is that it's pretty fucking great.

Metallica: James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo.

For more information, check out http://www.metallica.com or http://www.livemetallica.com

 

"Lulu" (Warner Bros.; 2011)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

I know a lot of the posts I've read about this disc are bad. The collaboration should never have happened. Lou Reed and Metallica!? The vitriolic words just keep flowing. I think Metallica have done what other bands are too afraid to try. Does it work for them? Yes, no, maybe. It's all a matter of opinion anyway. I'll pine mine. You'll agree, you'll disagree, but since you can still listen to the entire disc at this link -- http://www.loureedmetallica.com/listen-to-lulu.php -- (at least as of the time of this posting) it really just matters about the music.

When the rumors started about Lou Reed and Metallica collaborating on a project together most of the music world didn't scratch their heads, they just shook 'em. Lou Reed is 69 years old, not really the demographic market for Metallica fans. He's alt rock, not hard rock. He's not famous for rocking out, It's more like his famous for vegging out.

Metallica have been at the top of the charts and the best part of them comes out when they are rocking. Kirk has played some of the most memorable riffs and solos ever; there are no solos on this disc. It's more of a Lou Reed project with a heavy metal band providing the background music. Some might call it a joke. I don't know if Lou Reed fans embraced this project more than Metallica fans dejected it.

The music sometimes sounds like Metallica and at other times it sounds like a metal band that got the gig. Nothing stands out, nothing shines. James Hetfield will sing on some songs but his voice is not the focus of this once forceful band. The songs are long, too long to be played on radio but isn't that what Metallica wanted in the first place? They may have gotten their wish through a different genie. The whole disc clocks in at 87:04. The only song you will hear on the radio is "Iced Honey" because it sort of sounds like a Metallica song.

The whole disc has a lot of sexual references mentioned; weird sexual references at that. Lou Reed is reportedly bisexual so that's where a lot of it comes from. I'm not on the fence about this, I'm not even on the boat ... but I am on the shore waving "bye bye" to this sinking ship.

For more information, check out http://www.loureedmetallica.com.

"Death Magnetic" (Warner Bros.; 2008)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

In re-reading my review of Metallica's much-maligned "St. Anger," I wonder if perhaps I was just so excited that we had a new Metallica album that perhaps I didn't give it the harsher criticism it may have deserved. I mean, I still stick to that review because that's truly how I felt about the album at the time. But I'll be honest: I haven't listened to it much in the subsequent years. I bet it hasn't been in my iPod or CD player more than two or three times since its release in 2003.

I bring this all up because Metallica's new album, "Death Magnetic," has now been released and, although I like it far more than I liked "St. Anger," I still can't justify giving it a full four guitarsaw review. Hey, three-and-a-half guitarsaws ain't small potatoes but I gave "St. Anger" three-and-half as well, and I still get hate mail to this day.

Wait a minute. I think maybe I'm going about this all wrong. Let's start again: "Death Magnetic" is a great heavy metal album. It's well written, the production and performance are dynamic and it's chockfull of the things Metallica fans have been waiting for: epic songs, killer solos, meaty riffs and, yes, a little speed. It's probably the band's best album since the Black Album and it's been seventeen years since that legendary record was released.

Is "Death Magnetic" the band's return to their pre-Black album days (i.e., "And Justice For All," "Ride the Lightning")? No. Those awaiting Metallica's return to that era probably shouldn't hold their breath. Not only has the band changed dramatically since that time but music in general has changed dramatically. The odds of Metallica re-exploring that particular form of magic are probably astronomical.

But, "Death Magnetic" is Metallica's return to form. There's no alternative flavors to this CD. There's no country twinges. There's no coffee can drums. But there are solos. Glorious solos. And there are big, chunky riffs and driving rhythms. And there are songs that don't stop at four minutes so they'll get some airplay. And there are vocal hooks that will grab you and hold you (although perhaps not as tightly as they did on the Black Album). 

I can tell you this with confidence: Although I haven't listened much to "St. Anger" in the five years since its release, I will be listening a lot more to "Death Magnetic" in the next five years. Like "Master of Puppets," "And Justice for All," "Ride the Lightning" and, yes, the Black Album, this one won't fade quickly away.

"Death Magnetic" was produced by the amazing Rick Rubin and his touch shines throughout.

Metallica: James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo.

For more information, check out http://www.metallica.com or http://www.livemetallica.com

"Death Magnetic" (Warner Bros.; 2008)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Producer extraordinaire Rick Rubin has wielded his magical wand again, this time with the band Metallica and their recording "Death Magnetic." The music is once again fresh, new, vibrant and magical. 

The music is simple with direction and purpose with hooks, guitar solos and style. Metallica is back with grace and power that has not been present since the Black Album (yes, I admit it, I like the post-Black Album Metallica, too). 

Metal is a better place with, not only new Metallica, but a Metallica that has music that is exciting, simple and in your face.

This may not only be the CD of the year, it very well could be the best Metallica release to date. If Rough Edge were to have a higher rating than four guitarsaws, this release would get it.

Metallica: James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo.

For more information, check out http://www.metallica.com or http://www.livemetallica.com

"Live, Gothenburg 1987" (LiveMetallica.com; 2006)

Reviewed by Snidermann

The year is 1987. The place: Gothenburg, Sweden. The band: Metallica. This live recording is pure Metallica -- hard and in your face, just like they are still doing today, nearly twenty years later. 

This recording sounds like it could have been done yesterday. The band's sound really hasn't changed that much in all those years and thank God for that. The incredible set list is worth noting:

Master of Puppets
For Whom The Bell Toss
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
Ride The Lighting
Whiplash
The Thing That Should Not Be
Fade To Black
Seek and Destroy
Creeping Death
The Four Horsemen
Damage Inc.

This live recording was downloaded for free at www.livemetallica.com, where you can find virtually every show the band has ever done for download (most aren't free, of course). This recording may be a little rough at times but, for a free download, it was worth the time and effort.

For more information, check out www.livemetallica.com

"Some Kind of Monster" (Elektra; 2004)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

"Some Kind of Monster" is really more of a souvenir to the motion picture of the same name than a new Metallica release. For starters, the CD contains only two studio tracks - both of which just happen to be "Some Kind of Monster" (the album version and an edited version). The remaining tracks are live tracks taken from the band's June 11, 2003 trio of shows in Paris, France. These live tracks are noteworthy for a couple of reasons: 1) they feature Hetfield forgetting the lyrics to "Ride the Lightning" (but working his way through it like a champ); 2) the live version of the early classic "Hit the Lights" included here is a fiery, blistering rage. 

However, Metallica collectors beware: The live tracks on this EP are the identical tracks included on the band's "Unnamed Feeling" EP.

Also featured are two trailers for the film. A special edition is also available that includes a t-shirt. Click here for more information.

Probably not a Metallica essential, "Some Kind of Monster" still rocks. 

For more information, check out http://www.somekindofmonster.com or http://www.metallica.com

"Live, Los Angeles, CA, Great Western Forum, March 6, 2004" (LiveMetallica.com; 2004)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

What a great era we live in!

I attended the fantastic Metallica concert at the Great Western Forum on Saturday, March 6th, 2004. Then, just over 48 hours later - on Monday, March 8th, 2004 - I was able to download the entire two hour show, burn it to a CD, and listen to it in my car all day long. I didn't have to wait a year for the record company to come up with box art. I didn't have to listen to a performance that has been run through so many filters in the studio that it's now only half live. I didn't even have to drive to my local record store.

How frigging cool is that?

Metallica is offering a new service over the Internet at www.livemetallica.com. There, fans can download the entire show they attended as little as 48 hours before, in all its live glory - warts and all. The shows are offered in two formats: MP3 at $9.95 and the higher quality FLAC at $13.95. And high quality CD inserts and artwork are included in the .pdf format.

If you're wondering about the quality of the sound files, worry no more. The double-disc set that I burned sounds as good as anything on any of the band's previous live releases and it's even more exciting to listen to because I was there! The between song audience interaction is there, the sound effects from the band's tremendous stage show are there (be careful! These could destroy your speakers!) and, of course, two blistering "Kirk Doodles" are there as well.

Of course, some of the shows you pick may not be as strong as others. Maybe the set didn't feature the songs you like best (I particularly missed "For Whom the Bell Tolls") or maybe the band wasn't quite at the top of their game (they certainly were on March 6th!) But Metallica's trying to offer something different with each show. For example, during the show we attended, the band performed "Dirty Windows" for only the second time ever in the U.S. as well as their cover of The Misfits "Die Die My Darling." The previous evening, the band performed "Dyers Eve" live in its entirety for the first time ever.

Of course, I wasn't there the evening they played "Dyers Eve," but now I can download and hear it anyway.

Kudos to Metallica for taking the next logical step in offering live music to the fans and especially for doing such a great job at it!

Metallica: James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo. (Producer Bob Rock played bass for the recording of "St. Anger.")

For more information, check out http://www.metallica.com or http://www.livemetallica.com

"St. Anger" (Elektra; 2003)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

As readers of my previous Metallica reviews will know, I've never met a Metallica album I didn't like. From their speedier, early stuff through the mega-blockbuster Black album through "Load" and "Reload," Metallica's always worked for me, even when they joined up with a classical orchestra on "S&M."

I think the thing that keeps me interested in Metallica is that they continue to push the heavy metal envelope while at the same time never straying too far from their trademark sound. Yeah, "Load" is different than the Black album which is different than "Ride the Lightning." But it's all Metallica, and it all kicks rock'n'roll ass.

"St. Anger" kicks that same rock'n'roll ass while at the same time moving in yet another different direction than the band's previous work. St. Anger sounds more stripped down than recent Metallica releases, as though layers have been peeled away to expose only the raw rock'n'roll, heavy metal noise that we've come to expect from the band. It's the kind of CD that you're not 100% sure about after just one listen but that continues to get better and better as you keep playing it. Hell, I'm on my fifth or sixth spin as I write this and "St. Anger" sounds bigger and better than the last time I listened to it, much less the first time I did. What's more (and this is perhaps most important) it sounds more Metallica.

"St. Anger" is neither the fast thrash Metallica of the early albums nor the slow, crunching Metallica of the Black album. It's not the alternative-flavored Metallica of "Load" and "Reload." And it sure as hell isn't Metallica with the San Francisco Orchestra. But the fact that it's none of those things is a plus rather than a minus. It's "St. Anger" Metallica, and I think that most fans who didn't go for "Load" and "Reload" are gonna like this one a hell of a lot better. And those of us who did like those unfairly maligned albums are going to like it as well. In other words, expect "St. Anger" to mark a comeback of sorts for the band. (As though Metallica needs a comeback).

My favorite tracks are "Some Kind of Monster," with its growling chorus, "Sweet Amber" with its chunky riffs and "Invisible Kid." Of course, the haunting chorus of "St. Anger 'round my neck," has insinuated itself into my psyche, too, and that particular track - which I didn't like at all the first time I heard it - has become one of my favorites.

Lyrically, much has been said about the entire release being about anger, pure and simple. But I hear something else here as well: Pain. Perhaps the two go together so well that separating them is all but impossible. Regardless, the emotion of "St. Anger" is tangible.

My only initial complaint about "St. Anger" was that it seemed that the recorded drums sounded "sterile" somehow and, hence, too cold. Subsequent listenings have pushed that complaint to the background. Either I've become used to them or they were never as sterile as I first imagined. 

"St. Anger" is pure, unadulterated Metallica. It'll bring old-time fans back into the fold, it'll draw fans of the new stuff toward the early albums and it's sure to make fans of those out there whose only exposure to heavy metal is the likes of Slipknot. 

There's a reason that Metallica is the most successful heavy metal band ever and "St. Anger" is yet another reminder of why that is.

"St. Anger" also comes packaged with a DVD with every song on the album played live during rehearsal. Like the audio CD, the DVD is bare-bones.

Metallica: James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo. (Producer Bob Rock played bass for the recording of "St. Anger.")

For more information, check out http://www.metallica.com

"St. Anger" (Elektra; 2003)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

I'll bet there are a lot of folks who haven't cared a lick for anything Metallica has released since "… And Justice For All" way back in 1988. Personally, I think of Metallica as the classic triumvirate of "Ride The Lightning," "Master Of Puppets," and "… And Justice For All."

However, I have always managed to find something to like about Metallica’s work from 1991 and beyond. Like the rest of the world I waited a long time for Metallica to bring an original set of music back to the masses. Six years after "Reload," and a few diversions ("Garage, Inc." and "S&M") comes the much-anticipated full-length "St. Anger." "St. Anger" represents a version of Metallica that returns the band to the spirit of "Kill 'Em All" by presenting the band's aggression in a more up-tempo and straight-forward manner, notwithstanding the added emphasis on cramming riff upon riff into the songs, without losing the sound the band developed for "Load" and "Reload." Currently I’m thinking of the overall impact of "St. Anger" as though it was the track "Holier Than Thou" (from the Black album) filtered through the track "Devil’s Dance" (from the album "Reload"). That was probably a useless description, and I'm sure my synopsis of the album's sound will change over time, but it's the only description that's working for my brain right now.

Most of the eleven tracks on "St. Anger" are speedy and more up-tempo than anything that appeared on "Load" or "Reload." That’s not necessarily any better or any worse - but different and in a good way. Although "St. Anger" doesn't offer anything slow and sinister like "Fixxxer" the track "The Unnamed Feelings" comes close. And there aren't any 'ballad'-like songs in the vein of "The Unforgiven" either. The last track, "All Within My Hands," probably has the most memorable riffing and arrangement. "Some Kind Of Monster" has an organic groove and huge riffs that will sound great in concert.

Hetfield presents his lyrics with a sense of defiance ("Shoot Me Again"), vulnerability ("Frantic"), and sometimes both ("Invisible Kid"). Otherwise, Hetfield's well-documented experiences from the past six or so years are subtly and not so subtly referenced. Hetfield's conversion to more personal lyrics has not abated one iota for "St. Anger" and may even have been taken to a new level.

In the few short days that the album has been released and given the significant number of reviews posted by critics and fans alike,  it's a big surprise to see how many folks are upset with Lars Ulrich's drum sound. To me, Ulrich's drum sound is sharper, but not really any different or worse than any of Metallica’s previous efforts. While I was always impressed with Ulrich's time-keeping skills on the band's early work he made a fairly seamless transition to Metallica's latest style with no ill effects.

Here's my one major complaint - no guitar solos! Yes, I understand that the songs on "St. Anger" are not necessarily vehicles for guitar solos, but the absences of blistering solos is a waste of Kirk Hammett's superior soloing skills. However, on the good side, Hammett continues to develop his lead guitar skills. And Hammett seems to be getting a fairer share of the songwriting credit as well (Rob Rock gets credit, too) - so Hammett’s contributions are perhaps broader and well taken in the context of a greater band effort.

The DVD portion of “St. Anger” was really nothing more than rehearsal versions of the material - nothing major and certainly not a budget buster; it is a nice companion to the final work. All of the eleven tracks on "St. Anger" are presented using a multitude of filming types, but without too much glitz. However, the songs themselves appear to have been recorded at different sessions (and definitely not in the order finally presented on the CD). Seeing Metallica perform the songs really didn't change my impression of the album, but it did elevate the track "My World" to being one of my favorites from the album.

It took me a while to get into "St. Anger" – but that’s OK as I don't mind working a little bit to get some reward in the end. At the start it seemed to me as though Metallica colored all their songs with the same crayon - just using different strokes and intensity and angles to make the songs different from each other. But multiple listens reveal more than just that. It's still pretty cool, though - it's definitely going to get more spins than "Load" and "Reload" combined.

"St. Anger" was produced by Bob Rock and Metallica. For something that took a year to record "St. Anger" sounds like it was recorded over a couple of weeks in a stripped down studio somewhere in the desert. Supposedly that's what Rock was aiming for - and he succeeded.

Metallica is James Hetfield on guitar and vocals, Lars Ulrich on drums, and Kirk Hammett on lead guitar. Bob Rock played bass on all of the album's tracks; Robert Trujillo has joined Metallica and played bass on the rehearsal tracks found on the DVD.

For more information visit http://www.metallica.com

"St. Anger" (Elektra; 2003)

Reviewed by Snidermann

We all look for things in life that are constant and, if a change is needed, you hope the change grows with you. That's the way I feel about Metallica's "St. Anger." Bare bones heavy metal with the same Metallica attitude that has crowned heavy metal music for years. 

Produced by Bob Rock and Metallica, "St. Anger" is a stripped-down, in-your-face, balls-to-the-wall 75-plus minutes of total metal mayhem. I really liked this CD from the get-go: The songs are highly personal and delivered with an aggressive punch that has been constantly in my CD player since it was released. 

Included with the CD are a unique password to the Metallica web-vault (which gives you access to online music) and a rehearsal DVD that shows four guys doing what that do best - playing heavy metal music. 

Metallica refuses to confirm to anybody's attitude of what heavy metal is and continually pushes the envelope of the metal scene. "St. Anger" is no exception - eleven powerful, off center metal tunes (that average almost 7 minutes each), each literally exploding from the CD player. Man, what a fucking awesome ride!! 

Not over-produced in any way (in fact, rather under produced), "St. Anger" sounds like four guys hanging around someone's basement with some recording equipment and recording some absolutely killer music. Clear and simple, "St. Anger" is just what you would expect from Metallica: Pure, fucking heavy, with no bull, no hype and no shit! 

Metallica: James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo. (Producer Bob Rock played bass for the recording of "St. Anger.")

For more information, check out http://www.metallica.com

"Live Shit: Binge & Purge" DVD Edition (Elektra; 2002)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Metallica's hugely popular live mega-set has finally made the transition from the apparently dying VHS video to the hot medium of the moment: DVD. Admittedly, DVD is superior to VHS but should you run out and update your "Live Shit?" Well...

You may find it hard to believe but this version of "Live Shit" - which is about the size of an old-style double-CD case - contains everything that the original box set contained, and that one was about the size of a shoebox. A lot of that downsizing can be explained by the presence of DVDs. The original box set contained three VHS tapes; the new DVD set contains two discs. Every minute that was on the original video is on the new DVDs - they just take up a hell of a lot less space. And the video quality does look better. Plus you can jump to any song you'd like - no fast-forwarding necessary here.

Also included is the three CD set from the band's performance in Mexico City. Again, it's the exact same thing as in the original.

The cloth backstage pass is included here as well (and looks identical, I may add) as is the "Scary Guy" stencil. The stencil has been shrunk down to CD size but, hey, that makes it easier to sneak into school, right?

At this point, owners of the original box set (VHS/CD) are thinking - "Okay, but what about that full-color 72-page booklet that was in the original? No way that'd fit in a box the size of three CDs. Wrong! The booklet has been electronically re-created and is found in its entirety on the second DVD. That's right - the entire 72 pages of photos, notes and more is still here - it's just been converted for viewing on your computer screen instead of viewing on paper. Save the trees!

One thing that this DVD version of "Live Shit" contains that the original did not are DVD-ROM features, including the ability to view, zoom and make screensavers for your PC. You can't do that with VHS.

The only reason that this DVD version of "Live Shit" is rating a half-chainsaw less than the original version is because the big tour box that it came in was a lot more fun. The new DVD version is just product - cool product, yes - but just product. The original version seemed something more. It felt more like a collector's item. Of course, this version is considerably less expensive so maybe that's a good thing, too.

For more information, check out http://www.metallica.com

"S&M" (Elektra; 1999)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Many people questioned the sanity of Metallica for even considering performing their work with a symphony orchestra. However, it appears that Metallica are back to trusting their instincts; this has led to better performances of their catalog of material. It doesn't matter if you think Metallica's latest efforts (i.e. "Load" and "Re-Load") don't fit your notions of what Metallica is all about, "S&M" fits in with their modus operandi from their early days. "S&M" is a genre-busting, category-defying disc; quite frankly it's like the old days of "Kill 'Em All" and "Ride The Lightning" in approach!

I can't say Metallica have truly captured their adventurous spirit with "S&M," but they have regained a sense of daring and bravery that they've lacked for some time. When a band has been around as long as Metallica, it is always helpful to get a fresh interpretation on things - "S&M" does just that.

Michael Kamen gets the credit for making it work. Kamen, who has worked with Queensryche and Pink Floyd, re-worked familiar Metallica tunes by adding color rather than twisting the songs into new shapes. The songs retain their Metallica-born influence, yet the symphony's deft touch adds new flavors and insights into the power of Metallica's catalog. 

The most telling facet of "S&M" allure for me was the fact that songs like "Bleeding Me" and "Outlaw Torn" took on new life - I appreciate those songs a lot more than I did when they were originally released.  The infusion of energy into songs from the "Load" and "Re-Load" discs captured my imagination just like Metallica's first three efforts did.  

"Devil's Dance" gets a beefy harmonic boost and confident swagger, Hetfield's growing maturity as a vocalist is evidenced as "Hero Of The Day" and "Outlaw Torn" get an injection of soul that works, and "Bleeding Me" burns with subtle fever. (On a side note, the pairing of "- Human" followed by "Outlaw Torn" is simply magnificent.)

Another cool thing about "S&M" is that "Master Of Puppets" appears in its full-length glory (none of the abbreviated stunts they've been doing at concerts lately). And there aren't any medleys to be found either such as the "...Justice" medley found on "Binge And Purge."

The two new tracks, "No Leaf Clover" and "- Human," are decent.  Undoubtedly "No Leaf Clover" will get more airplay, but "- Human" has more stylistic energy and bombast as the violins actually seem to push Metallica rather than the other way around.

Not all of it works, though. For instance "Fuel" sounds too much like the original; perhaps the relative youth of the song doesn't make it a good candidate for new interpretations. Or perhaps it's just the fast stuff that doesn't translate well live - including set-closer "Battery" - in the 'symphonica' setting.

"S&M" was produced by Bob Rock along with James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, and Michael Kamen. James, Lars, Kirk, and Jason matched musical skills with the San Francisco Orchestra conducted by Michael Kamen.

For more information visit http://www.metallica.com and get a little S&M.

"Garage Inc." (Elektra; 1998)metallicagarage.jpg (13972 bytes)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Okay. So it's hip to say that Metallica sold out and their new music sucks next to their old music. You know what? I don't agree. As much as I enjoy "Ride the Lightning" and "Whiplash," I enjoy "Load" and "Re-Load." Music changes, folks, and thank God Metallica realizes that it's okay to change. Thanks to Metallica, hard rock/heavy metal still has a Godzilla-sized sales monster on the sales charts.

That being said, I must admit that I was prepared to be disappointed with "Garage, Inc." I watched the live special on MTV and it didn't ignite my interest, to say the least. In fact, it took me about a month to finally get out there and buy the damn thing - and that only happened because Blockbuster had it on sale for $13.99.

But I was in for a pleasant surprise when I popped in "Garage, Inc." Instead of the obscure and bland covers I expected, what I got was Metallica raging through some of their favorite songs. This isn't just a collection of covers that a major band is doing as a tip of their hat to their influences. No, these are songs that Metallica feels passionate about - and it shows.

The first disc contains newly recorded covers, including a raging conversion of Bob Seger's "Turn the Page" and a somber, powerful "Sabbra Cadabra" from Black Sabbath. The inclusion of an acoustic "Tuesday's Gone" by Lynyrd Skynyrd is a little weird here, but we'll let that one pass.

The second disc starts off with the band's legendary "Garage Days Revisited" in its entirety. So, unless you're a hardcore Metallica collector, stop bidding so high on those online auctions for the rare original CD. Following "Garage Days" are a collection of B-sides and other rare tracks, including "Motorheadache '95" - originally available only on import single - a collection of four classic Motorhead songs performed by Metallica during Lemmy's 50th birthday party. (Actually, I believe these are from the rehearsal for that show).

By the time Disc Two comes slowly spinning to its end, there can be no doubt that Metallica has done it again. They've taken conventional wisdom, given it a sound twist, and created another winner. Unfortunately, this kind of creative courage may continue the erosion of the band's early fans - especially those who can't let go of their "faster is better" credo. For our money, Metallica is as good today as they were back then and remain one of hard rock/heavy metal's very best bands.

For more information, check out http://www.metallica.com

"Reload" (Elektra; 1997)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

When Metallica became commercial (not by choice, but by fans who couldn’t keep their idols a secret), we were treated to their massive hit album, "The Black Album" (or whatever people want to call it). A few years and 15 million albums sold later and “Load” was released in 1996. “Reload” was rushed out one year later.

The press release claimed that the band had recorded enough material to release a double album; but why overload their massive fan base with too much music? So “Load” was released first and then “Reload” (which came to mean that we got it with both barrels). 

The band then waited almost six years to release “St. Anger.” I don’t claim to understand music marketing but I do know when I’ve been a victim of the classic snake oil salesman.

I picked up “Reload” because I had hoped it would fair better than its non-prefixed brother. Sadly, I was mistaken. I wasn’t hoping for “The Black Album” Part Two but I wasn’t sure I deserved this either. At least it had guitar solos (unlike “St. Anger”). I think most fans were disappointed with both “Load” discs. I know I was.

The best tracks on this disc were “Fuel,” “The Memory Remains,” and “The Unforgiven II.”

Metallica: James, Kirk, Lars and Jason.

For more information, check out http://www.metallica.com

"Live Shit: Binge & Purge" (Elektra; 1993)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Note to those producing box sets: This is how you do it right.

"Live Shit: Binge & Purge" is a tremendous box set containing three CDs (recorded live in Mexico City), three video cassettes (recorded live in Seattle and San Diego), a full-color booklet with song lyrics and other goodies; a backstage pass and a cool stencil of the band's mascot. Priced at around $60 to $70, this collection surprised everyone by opening upon its initial release at #29 on the Billboard Top 100 album sales.

"Live Shit" shows the talent and versatility of one of the premiere metal bands of all time: Metallica. Frankly, I'm not much of a fan of early Metallica. Too much emphasis was on speed and, hence, I often found it boring. 

However, "Live Shit" has changed my perspective drastically. I must re-evaluate the early music and rediscover for myself the excitement of the pre-Black CD catalog. 

With over eight hours of live music in this collection, showcasing the pure showmanship and genius that is Metallica, "Live Shit" is a pure winner. There's even a Danzig and Queen cover tune thrown in for good measure!

For more information, check out http://www.metallica.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Revised: 15 Mar 2017 23:33:43 -0500.