We'll start with "Kill 'em All". Production and songwriting are a bit under-developed, but the record still rocks your face off and some of the songs are just plain classics.
Bad ass underground vibe, bought it when it
came out. Loved it then, still love it today, but wouldn't want to listen to it on a daily basis.
Enter record producer Flemming Rasmussen and the band records "Ride the Lightning". The jump in maturity is almost unfathomable; the songs were
light-years above "Kill 'em All".
Songwriting matured, production was perfect (for Metallica), and James' vocals were so unique and special. It was the beginning of true great things to come and their greatest
accomplishment was just around the corner.
"Master of Puppets", once again produced by Rasmussen, is next. The record is an achievement only few have ever had the pleasure of
doing, a few Pink Floyd records come to mind, OK Computer by Radiohead...and you can figure out the rest. A perfect album.
It is their holy grail, their novel, their epoch, their epic. We listened to "Master of Puppets" more than any other cd, back in the day.
I still can get lost in it.
Fly through "Garage Days", which was incredible, very raw, under-produced, but James still sounded great.
Next, we have "And Justice for All". Yes, once again, produced by Rasmussen. Now the sound was a little different, but at the time, every freakin' drummer
I knew started taping a quarter to their kick drum head. The record influenced a lot of musicians, even though you will mostly hear people whine about the overall sound. The
people who loved Metallica, for what they did best, knew that this was another great record........and, unknowingly, the last time we would ever hear Metallica.
Go to whatever year they release the "Black" album.
I still remember the day. Me, several friends all came together to party and someone was bringing the new Metallica cd.
I was definitley looking forward to hearing it. We gather, drink beers, shoot the hammer and then someone pops it in. After the first track, I thought woozie, what was that?
Surely not. Then the next track, then the next track, then the next track, holy son of a bitch, They Suck!
How did that happen? To this day, I have never listened to the cd again. I never bought it, I never downloaded any of the songs, not one.
I would listen to the songs, from the album, on the radio and think about how it must have happened. I wondered if there was an exact moment that they unknowingly began to suck, or maybe it was an accumulation of several things coming together to create a perfect environment for sucking.
I have heard them talk about how they needed to change and who am I to say they shouldn't. Look at what happened to Slayer. They've carried the metal torch of stability and
have hardly strayed from their original sound. Look at what happened to Pantera, they were next in line to become the most powerful metal band. They never wrote
anything as classic as "Master of Puppets", but comparitively, Pantera might have written something on the level of
"Ride the Lightning"......I didn't say better than "Lightning", but maybe on the level.......I said maybe!
As far as talent, Pantera almost had it all. They were the first band to really mix pop with hard ass metal. Very catchy parts and most of the songs were
simplistic in structure. Phil Anselmo was a vocal god compared to James Hetfield. Especially in the beginning, when he could sound so powerful and go from a hint of Hetfield-styled vocals, saturated with even more brutality and then hit the highs only reserved for the
greatest of metal-god-vocalists like Rob Halford, or Geoff Tate. Phil influenced a style and a generation. Even today, there are thousands of singers still emulating his signature growl. Plenty seem to be able to handle the growl, however, no one has come along and been able to hit the highs, like Phil once did.
I believe Diamond Darrell was just as good as Kirk. Maybe not as
technically proficient, but as far as rhythm, groove and feel, there's no comparison.......plus he was more of a songwriter, which gets a deserved credit. However, if you add
James in with his guitar abilities, then Metallica comes out ahead. No question.
On bass, it's laughable. Rex Rocker is a spaghetti dinner compared to Cliff, Trujillo.....,or Jason for that matter.
Lastly, comparing drummers would be like
comparing a Ferrari to a Toyota MR2. That is not to say that I don't think Lars is a great drummer, but he ain't no Vinnie.
Back to my point......Slayer and Pantera became boring.
Pantera only had three classic albums, five if you consider a couple of their indie releases(Projects in the Jungle (definitely), Power Metal (possibly)).
But after three albums on the majors, Pantera followed-up by continuing to get heavier at the cost of good songwriting, plus they just seemed freakin' bored. Slayer had four full-length classics, five if you want to add in "Hell Awaits"......Ok, I'll give it to Slayer; the first five albums are classics. I think Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman believe "South of Heaven" sucked, but they are waaaay wrong; I loved it and considered it their first tasteful record. Don't think for a second I didn't love "Show No Mercy", or "Reign in Blood". "Evil Has No Boundaries" and the classic riff in "Die by the Sword". Pantera never wrote a song on the level of "Raining Blood", but Metallica did......
several times. That's just the facts bitch.
to end my point......most of the bands that don't change...after awhile, it's like ok, we get it.
What bothers me about the Black album? It is the songwriting, Bob Rock and James Hetfield's vocals. I know what you are saying, but Metallica sold millions of copies of that album. But so did Vanilla Ice, or Britney Spears, or Hootie & the Blowwads, or what about Anus Morrisette, or Backstreet Boys, or Nsync, do I need to continue?
Terrible records have sold millions throughout history. It was just timing. Metallica could have released something on the level of "Justice" and it would have sold at least
eight to ten million copies. They could have put out a turd and it would have sold three million copies.
Don't get me wrong Bob, I loved the Blue Murder record.
After the "Black" album, they released several pieces of crap, wore make-up and whatever else. My only question was, why wasn't there anyone there to tell them that
their shit smells terrible. You're Metallica dammit, you don't need to do that. Especially everything they stood for in the eighties, they didn't need to have a past that they look back on as "our lamest period".
Recently, they release the heavier St. Anger, only to learn that they, regardless of the fact they had invented it, had forgotten how to do it. But more than anything, the album leaves you thinking......What is up with
that freakin' snare?
BRING BACK Rasmussen; let him do one more record. I am not saying that would work, but, at the very least, I know Rasmussen
would start by double-tracking Hetfield's vocals. Bring back the classic sound for one more, no silly lyrics, and yes,
"I am madly in anger with you", was not a lyrical achievement, no matter what Bob Rock says....or what about "My lifestyle determines my death style"...
STOP IT!! Just because you get an idea, doesn't mean that you shouldn't continue molding that idea....no matter how great you think you are. Your ass does stink MF'er. If anyone has watched the Metallica movie, you know that the band does not even realize that
their ass smells, but you try figuring that out, when you sold millions and made millions for twenty plus years. How can you really blame them;
they have had someone sucking them off for most of that time, and a good portion of that sucking happened on a daily basis. Bob Rock has no excuse...did you see when he tells the band that he felt the soul of Metallica was the three members and they shouldn't hire Jason back, but then Bob goes on to play bass on the latest record and was
thinking he was going to tour with them. How sad.
I've had grown men tell me that "METALLICA was great from the Black album on". Now I can understand a kid saying that,
they will learn in time, if they keep at it.
But a grown man? PLEASE, someone flood my mouth with acid and lock me in a crowded, quiet library.
Since I first posted this article, Metallica has released their latest effort, "Death Magnetic". I will say that I love a lot of the music parts. Some of them
even reminded me of what the music would have been like after "Justice". However, now I know with pure clarity what the problem is. Since the music is good, the
production is ok.....for whatever reason, people seem to have a hell of a time tracking Metallica drums......lyrics, for what I have heard, seem ok, and that
level distortion thing doesn't bother me too much.
It's without a doubt, James Hetfield's voice. It grates on my soul and even sounds ridiculous at times.....then there are times when it just seems to go on and on, for no apparent reason.
I can understand how someone like Robert Plant loses his voice, but James was never a singer. He's a homemade vocalist; singing out of necessity. Perfect for metal, but not to be confused with an actual singer. Don't get me wrong, back in the day, pre-Pantera, James had the coolest metal voice ever invented.
I think part of the reason he changed his voice was so it would last on tour. James' vocals have sucked live for sometime now; he's held back forever. But we don't care brother; we just want you to blow it out in the studio. I could care less if you can't reproduce it live, do your little falsetto thingy in concert....it's just cool seeing you guys jam together....and I'm down with the addition of Trullijo. Suicidal was a mutha back in the day....."you can't bring me down....bring me down". Now they have a bassist who is on the level of Cliff Burton. All the pieces are in place.
If Rick Rubin can't do it, forget about it. All options have been exhausted and there is only one thing left to do.... Bring Back Flemming Rasmussen.
Metallica will continue to disappoint the original fans, until someone can figure out how to track James Hetfield's vocals. Maybe, as he has aged, his voice has dropped in range and there is no hope for any of us. But if Metallica truly wants to put out a classic, the
problems lies in his voice...... that's what we don't like.
However, if you can't do it, we're cool. Thanks for the first five!