30 January 2017

Metallica - Metallica

In 1991, heavy metal was on an all time high; Grunge was just around the corner, Sepultura had released 'Arise', Guns N' Roses dropped the 'Use Your Illusion' albums, artists such as Primus, Queen and Skid Row released classic albums and then on 12th August, a little band called Metallica release their fifth and self-titled album (also known as 'The Black Album') and it was a game changer for the band.  The album that proceeded it '...And Justice For All' suffered from a production job that robbed the album of any bass sound.  On this album, they picked to work with Bob Rock and whilst it corrected the sound, the cost to the band was high.  Three marriages, $1M to remix THREE times, taking the band out of their comfort zones and causing a taste so sour taste in the mouths of the band and Mr Rock that they would not record another album until five years later in the form of 'Load' and 'Re-Load'.  It topped the charts around the world, it is multi-platinum monster that took the work by storm - but it also took the band a little further away from their thrash roots.  I will get back to that at the end of this review, but how does the album stand after all these years?

01 - Enter Sandman

When the song first came out, it was like being hit by a car sideways.  The first piece of music to be wrote for the album, the last song to get lyrics and the first single to be released from the album, this song about nightmares which was used by ECW for the entrance music for the wrestler Sandman is one of the band's biggest hits, still played at their shows and one that is hailed as a classic.  I really cannot argue with the use of that word here, it still sounds fresh today and thank the deity it has some bass behind the sound.

02 - Sad But True

Another song that is still a major player in the Metallica live set, it was sampled by Kid Rock for his single 'American Badass' and it is love around the world.  I do not share that view - I will actually go on record and say that it is still a dull song that never fails to make me yawn and it has not changed in the years that have passed since I first heard it.  I disliked it then, I dislike it now, basically - it sucks and it is the biggest blemish on this album, why it was released as a single is beyond me.

03 - Holier Than Thou

A song which is over looked a lot by fans of Metallica, 'Holier Than Thou' is a strong mixture of heavy rock, thrash elements and it gives some dickhead a good bashing as they are thinking that they are a cut above the rest of the world.  It might not be the most thrilling ride on the album, but it has a dirty little riff that always grabs my attention as it runs off into the distance and heads straight for the pit.  It is a lost gem and one that shines bright for me.

04 - The Unforgiven

A song which reverses the ballad tread of heavier chorus and light verse, 'The Unforgiven' was the second song to be released as a single and it is a towering number.  Dealing with the inner struggles and self-doubts that can hold back a person, the song has everything going for it.  It has a brilliant riff/chord progression, the bass is towering and the drumming great as well.  It is such a good song that the band would go on to write 'Unforgiven II' and 'Unforgiven III', but the less said about them, the better if you ask me.

05 - Wherever I May Roam

The sound of the desert starts this song, it is a tale about endless wondering and never having a place to rest as the wanderlust is so great.  The riff is one that has pace and power behind it, the aggression in the mix is still breath taking and the solos towards the end are still top notch.  Definitely one of the best songs off the album and in my top ten Metallica songs ever, it has aged incredibly well in my eyes and is still one that is guaranteed to get me up and moving.

06 - Don't Tread On Me

A song which was wrote to address the anti-American feeling on '...And Justice For All', 'Don't Tread On Me' starts with a few bars of 'America' from 'West Side Story' and then it goes on about not giving a fuck and for the world to watch out.  A sentiment that is something which can work against America at time, but it does hark back to that Wild West spirit that seems to be engraved into the soul of the Country.  I like the song, it is a powerful number and I think the riff is understated; the lyrics, not so much if I am honest.  However, it is still better than 'Sad But True' though.

07 - Through The Never

A song which is often derailed as a filler track, but it has one of those riffs which can set a room on fire and make a lot of metal heads form a pit in seconds.  It is a simple song in many ways, not as complex as other songs on the album, it has a fast pace it does not let the foot off the peddle throughout the number, it has a loose theme about the endless void of the universe and how the human race cannot comprehend anything and all the human race can do is try to survive.  It is a good, solid number that is once again, better than 'Sad But True'

08 - Nothing Else Matters

One of the best-known songs from the album, a soul raising ballad about find home (something which is sort of ironic considering how three marriages from the band were failing during the recording of this album), the song was actually wrote for the girlfriend of James Hetfield and is also dedicated to the fans of Metallica by the band now.  I have seen it used as a song for a first dance at a wedding, I have seen live versions of the song and it still sounds wonder; basically, it is a song which cannot be ignored and it is rightly thought of as one of the best songs that Metallica have ever released.  But it is not my favourite of the album......

09 - Of Wolf & Man

A song about the legend of the Werewolf and the nature of changing from one form to another, it is another song which seems to have been deemed as a filler song, but I cannot understand why it has such a bad reputation.  It is fast, heavy, silly (the lyrics are very silly indeed) and just a fun song; not every song is going to rule the world, but some are just great for no other reason than being all out fun - also, still better than 'Sad But True'.

10 - The God That Failed

A song aimed at a religion and not necessarily at a single religion or is it to be taken literarily?  Well, according to various sources it is about the events surrounding the passing of James Hetfield's Mother and her refusal of cancer treatment due to religious beliefs.  For some people, it will be hard to see past the literal meaning of the words, but it has always been much deeper than that sort of song.  The riff is towering, the bass & drums are amazing and the solos are fantastic; for me, on an emotional and on a song level - this is the best song of the album and is another that can be overlooked for its famous brethren that have been played to dead in Metal clubs around the world.

11 - My Friend of Misery

A song that was originally conceived as an instrumental and only one of three songs to have a writing credits for Jason Newsted during his whole career, 'My Friend of Misery' is very close to being my favourite song of the album.  It has everything you could want from a Metallica song; it is moodier than a teenager in a huff, the lyrics are about an outside who has nothing but resentment for the world and the music is fantastic.  I would really like to hear an instrumental version of this song, it might change the song and to be honest, it could actually take it to a higher level. 

12 - The Struggle Within

Along with 'Don't Tread on Me' & 'My Friend of Misery', 'The Struggle Within' did not have its live debut until 2012 when Metallica completed a tour of Europe when they played the album in its entirety.  It is a strange song that seems to be tagged onto the end of the album and suffers from positioning.  It is an energy boosting song and it was probably put there after two darker numbers, it is all about the struggle that someone feels when anxiety is all consuming, so on that level I can see why it was placed there.  But it does feel like the weaker track of the lack quarter, also it is still better than 'Sad But True'.

I think that 'Metallica' has stood the test of times, it is an album that is worthy of the title 'classic' and is rightly hailed as one of their landmark records.  It is still second in line to 'Master of Puppets', anyone who says otherwise is a liar and I would not trust with anything.  The production by Bob Rock (which would eventually become a curse on later albums) was spot on for this record, the band used the negative energy that was part of their lives at the time and made something positive, towering and if we are being totally honest, something they have not been closer to beating - the last Metallica album that was pretty much universally liked and does not feel like a band having a fight with itself in a band way.  They are approaching that state again with 'Hardwired...To Self-Destruct', but it has been a long wait for something close.  I doubt very much that anyone who reads this will not have heard this album before, so it does have a certain 'preaching to the choir' feel to the review, but it is still a great album.  Also, as I have said all the way through this - 'Sad But True' sucks, plus it stops it from getting a perfect mark - so glad I got that one off my chest.

9 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost...

Top song - The God That Failed

You can purchase Metallica from Amazon here.

You can visit the Metallica website here.

You can follow the activities of Metallica on Facebook here.

You can stream Metallica on Spotify here.

You can stream Metallica on Deezer here.

You can stream Metallica on Tidal here.

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