Category Archives: Metallica

Ronnie James Dio: This Is Your Life [Review]

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 Ronnie James Dio: This Is Your Life
2014, Rhino Records
Buy the album at Amazon.com

1. Neon Knights – Anthrax
2. The Last In Line – Tenacious D
3. The Mob Rules – Adrenaline Mob
4. Rainbow In The Dark – Corey Taylor, Roy Mayorga, Satchel, Christian Martucci, Jason Christopher
5. Straight Through The Heart – Halestorm
6. Starstruck – Motörhead with Biff Byford
7. The Temple Of The King – Scorpions
8. Egypt (The Chains Are On) – Doro
9. Holy Diver – Killswitch Engage
10. Catch The Rainbow – Glenn Hughes, Simon Wright, Craig Goldy, Rudy Sarzo, Scott Warren
11. I – Oni Logan, Jimmy Bain, Rowan Robertson, Brian Tichy
12. Man On The Silver Mountain – Rob Halford, Vinny Appice, Doug Aldrich, Jeff Pilson, Scott Warren
13. Ronnie Rising Medley (A Light In The Black / Tarot Woman / Stargazer / Kill The King) – Metallica
14. This Is Your Life – Dio
Bonus Track:
15. Buried Alive – Jasta

Well, there certainly hasn’t been an absence of Dio-related releases since Ronnie’s passing. In the 4 years that Ronnie has been gone there have been two compilations, two live releases (a third is due shortly) and at least three tribute albums by my count. Ronnie James Dio: This Is Your Life is the third tribute album that I am aware of. The first two tributes were Jorn’s Dio (which Wendy Dio gave her blessing for) and Joey DeMaio’s Magic (which Wendy did not approve of), though I’m sure there’s probably more out there.

As far as star power and  talent goes, you won’t find a better Dio tribute: Anthrax, Halestorm, Metallica, Scorpions, Rob Halford, Motorhead, Biff Byford, Vinny Appice, Doro, Doug Aldrich… the list goes on and on.

Most these songs are played fairly straight and faithfully but it’s still interesting to hear Dio covered by other well-known artists and the songs cover his years in Rainbow, Black Sabbath and the Dio band. The majority of these tracks range from good to excellent. Even Tenacious D (who I normally can’t stand) do a decent job.

There are a few tracks I do have an issue with though. For one, Killswitch Engage’s “Holy Diver”. I don’t like metalcore and never needed to hear a metalcore version complete with unnecessary pinch harmonics that would make Zakk Wylde proud. I give them credit for trying to make the song their own, but it doesn’t make it a good cover.

Then there’s the cover of Black Sabbath’s “I”. There’s a good line-up of musicians on the track and Oni Logan is a good singer but he lacks the power to really put that song over the top like Dio did. He doesn’t sound bad, but I don’t think he’s the right fit for a song like this, if that makes any sense.

Then there’s “Man on the Silver Mountain”. Again, great musicians here. It’s Rob Halford backed by a collection of former Dio band members. Doug Aldrich’s presence is felt throughout the song and while he was in Dio before he joined Whitesnake, the song is given a slight makeover and comes across like a modern Whitesnake song. Halford sounds fine, but again, he doesn’t have the proper voice to be covering songs sung by Ronnie James Dio. Or songs sung by Ronnie James Dio that have been given a Whitesnake makeover. I’m liking this take on the song musically, I just think Halford’s vocals are out of place.

Glenn Hughes turns in a fantastic soulful performance on “Catch the Rainbow”. He is also backed by a collection of former Dio players. Motorhead & Biff Byford do a great job on “Starstruck” and I initially thought that was the Glenn Hughes track when I first heard it. “The Temple of the King” by Scorpions is wonderful as well. It’s a faithful cover of the original but it’s very cool to hear Klaus Meine on vocals.

The track that is garnering the most attention, obviously, is the Metallica track. I’m glad they are on this project because there’s no doubt they have brought eyes to this album that might not have given it a look otherwise. They do a good job covering four of Rainbow’s best songs.

The physical CD closes the album with the ballad “This Is Your Life” which is pulled from Dio’s 1996 album Angry Machines. The song is given extra weight considering the circumstances. Jasta’s “Buried Alive” is a digital album exclusive bonus track and is actually pretty good. Once again, Japan gets more material than North America because Stryper’s cover of “Heaven and Hell” and the Dio Disciples’ take on “Stand Up and Shout” appear on pressings over there. Seriously, what’s up with Japan always getting bonus tracks that never see the light of the day in the United States? I’ve never heard anyone actually address why that happens so often!

A few minor quibbles, but this isn’t a better Dio tribute album out and there probably never will be. Must have for Dio fans!

Highlights: “Rainbow In the Dark”, “Straight Through the Heart”, “Starstruck”, “The Temple of the King”, “Egypt (The Chains Are On)”, “Catch the Rainbow”, “Ronnie Rising Medley”, “This Is Your Life”

Metallica – Beyond Magnetic

Metallica – Beyond Magnetic (2011, Warner Bros. Records)

1. “Hate Train” … 6:59
2. “Just A Bullet Away” … 7:11
3. “Hell and Back” … 6:57
4. “Rebel of Babylon” … 8:01

Band:
James Hetfield – Vocals, Guitar
Kirk Hammett – Guitar
Robert Trujillo – Bass
Lars Ulrich – Drums

Producer: Rick Rubin

Beyond Magnetic is a collection of the 4 songs that didn’t make it onto 2008’s Death Magnetic album. 14 songs were written for that album but only 10 made the cut. So, after debuting these songs live during one of their 30th Anniversary shows, Metallica originally released them to the world  through digital retailers (exclusive to iTunes in North America) on December 13, 2011. The E.P. is available in CD form as of January 31, 2012.

From what I understand, these are only rough mixes of the songs (I’m assuming final mixes do exist). I just hope they don’t try to pad out the next Metallica album by throwing completed versions of these songs on it and calling it a day.

As expected, reaction to this Beyond Magnetic has been mixed. I’ve read everything from “It’s worse than Death Magnetic!” to “Why the #&$% weren’t these songs on Death Magnetic?” to “It sucks!” to “They’re playing thrash again!” to “At least it isn’t Lulu!”

I’m not one of those “fans” that takes the stance that everything the band has done since …And Justice For All  (or the Black Album) sucks. I’ve talked about making the ultimate Load & Reload compilation in the past. And I quite liked Death Magnetic. I listened to it again recently and it still holds up. With the songs from DM still fresh in my mind, I’m in the camp that’s wondering why these songs weren’t included on the album. In fact, that album only had 10 tracks, what’s wrong with bumping it up to 14? Still, “Suicide & Redemption” and “The Judas Kiss” could’ve easily been left off DM to make room for at least “Just A Bullet Away” and “Hate Train”.

“Just A Bullet Away” comes the closest to sound like old school Metallica. I don’t really think we’ll ever see a true return to that era but this is about as close as these guys can get these days. So, yeah, your mileage may vary but I think this is a good little E.P. with on “Rebel of Babylon” kinda just wandering around for a bit.

If you’re a Metallica hater, you’ll probably hate Beyond Magnetic but that’s expected of you. As for anyone who actually enjoyed Death Magnetic, this is worth checking out.

The album art looks like a butterfly.

Highlights: “Hate Train”, “Just A Bullet Away”, “Hell and Back”

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Buy Beyond Magnetic [CD Edition] at Amazon.com

METALLICA – Kill ‘Em All

Metallica – Kill ‘Em All (1988, Elektra Records)
Original Release: 1983, Megaforce Records

1. “Hit the Lights” … 4:17
2. “The Four Horsemen” … 7:08
3. “Motorbreath” … 3:03
4. “Jump in the Fire” … 4:50
5. “(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth” … 4:27
6. “Whiplash” … 4:06
7. “Phantom Lord” … 4:52
8. “No Remorse” … 6:24
9. “Seek & Destroy” … 6:50
10. “Metal Militia” … 5:05

Band:
James Hetfield — Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Kirk Hammett — Lead Guitar
Cliff Burton — Bass, Backing Vocals
Lars Ulrich — Drums, Percussion

Producer: Paul Curcio & Johnny Zazula

My first impression when I heard this album was that I found it pretty funny how young James sounds. He’s practically a baby! No one can dispute this is a heavy metal classic and it’s a very important album for the world of metal just for the fact that it is Metallica’s debut album. That said, they did far better releases throughout the rest of the ’80s as their songwriting became more complex and mature.

There’s an innocent charm and a great sense of purity to Kill ‘Em All though. Metallica was just another metal band at this point, not greedy whiny billionaires meticulously over-analyzing  and calculating every album they wrote. Anyway, this album is speed and thrash metal for the sake of speed and thrash metal!

Of course, I can’t say egos weren’t they yet because they were and that is part of what led to Dave Mustaine being kicked out before even getting to record this album with the band. His raging alcohol problem was the major reason for the band giving him the abrupt boot, but Dave himself and others have speculated that given Dave’s natural-born leadership qualities, it just didn’t mesh with the equally headstrong Lars & James. Apparently, Ulrich and Hetfield were willing to co-captain the Good Ship Metallica, but didn’t want a third guy his hands on the steering wheel too. Enter Kirk “Go With the Flow” Hammett as the new lead guitarist just in time to record.

Mustaine’s hand prints are still all over this album with him getting four song credits and original bassist Ron McGovney (who was let go by the band for being too passive) gets one credit. “The Four Horsemen” was based on a Mustaine song called “The Mechanix” with a little altering from Hetfield and Hammett. Dave released a more faithful version simply called “Mechanix” for Megadeth’s debut. Dave says he asked James and Lars to not use ANY of his music for the album, but they deny that claim. Such drama, it’ll never end!

The album was originally released on CD in ’83 by Megaforce, but the band’s longtime label Elektra did a reissue in ’88, which is the version I own. I don’t even have the jewel case or insert for it. I was supposed to be borrowing this album from a friend and in exchange I let him borrow the Black Album. Well, he ended scratching up that album pretty bad and told me I could keep this one as compensation. That was 9 years ago and I still have never replaced that Black Album!

Okay, finally getting back to the music, there are some really great songs on this album but for me some of the weaker songs just kind of blend together. Very good release, but Metallica has done better (and a LOT worse) so it’s not near the top of my grab list when I want to hear some Metallica.

Highlights: “Hit the Lights”, “Motorbreath”, “Jump in the Fire”, “(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth”, “Whiplash”, Seek & Destroy”

www.metallica.com
www.myspace.com/metallica

METALLICA – Ride the Lightning

Metallica – Ride the Lightning (1984, Elektra Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Fight Fire with Fire”… 4:45
2. “Ride the Lightning” … 6:37
3. “For Whom the Bell Tolls” … 5:10
4. “Fade to Black” … 6:57
5. “Trapped Under Ice” … 4:04
6. “Escape” … 4:24
7. “Creeping Death” … 6:36
8. “The Call of Ktulu” … 8:54

Band:
James Hetfield – Vocals, Guitar
Kirk Hammett – Guitar
Cliff Burton – Bass
Lars Ulrich – Drums

Produced by: Flemming Rasmussen & Metallica

Gotta love that cover, it’s my favorite album cover from Metallica. The logo always struck me as particularly awesome with the silver & blue.

Anyway, to the music, a lot of people say this is Metallica’s finest moment. It’s hard to argue that point. Though I personally think Master of Puppets is the best (it was my first Metallica album after all), Ride the Lightning would be a very close second.

“Ride the Lightning”, “Fade to Black”, “The Call of Ktulu”, “For Whom the Bell Tolls”… These legendary classic thrash metal songs cannot be denied! And this album would see an end to the Mustaine connection once and for all, “Ride the Lightning” and “The Call of Ktulu” are the last Metallica songs to have Dave’s name appear in the writing credites.

One of the greatest thrash metal albums ever by the greatest thrash metal band ever.

Highlights: Can’t pick just a handful. Everything is a classic.

www.metallica.com
www.myspace.com/metallica

METALLICA – Death Magnetic

Metallica – Death Magnetic (2008, Warner Bros. Records)

Track Listing:
1. “That Was Just Your Life” … 7:07
2. “The End of the Line” … 7:51
3. “Broken, Beat & Scarred” … 6:25
4. “The Day That Never Comes” … 7:55
5. “All Nightmare Long” … 7:57
6. “Cyanide” … 6:39
7. “The Unforgiven III” … 7:45
8. “The Judas Kiss” … 8:00
9. “Suicide & Redemption” … 9:56
10. “My Apocalypse” … 5:00

Band:
James Hetfield – Vocals, Guitar
Kirk Hammett – Guitar
Robert Trujillo – Bass
Lars Ulrich – Drums

Produced by: Rick Rubin

Oh, the controversy! I guess Metallica hasn’t been able please anyone since they released the Black Album way in back 1991. I’m referring to the great mix/master controversy that has gone on about this album. Is it really THAT bad? I don’t think so. Admittedly, I don’t have the ears to pick up things like this, but for what I’m playing my CD through, everything sounds fine (other than some of the drums which I think are a bit too much like St. Anger sometimes).

There’s always been a very vocal group of Metallica “fans” that complain about everything the band has done since …And Justice for All and they’re out in full force again over this one. I’m not saying there isn’t a difference between the album mix and say the Guitar Hero III downloads, but to *most* people, it’s not an outstanding difference and they’ll do just fine listening to the CD. There’s no need to jump off a bridge over this (or to get Metallica and/or Warner Bros. to do the same).

Now, to the music– Easily the best stuff they’ve put out since the Black Album (which I happen to think is great, so those same “fans” can stick it). It’s a return to their heydays and a lot more focused than the emo St. Anger.

Many of these songs harken back to their 80s material such as “This Was Just Your Life” and “My Apocalypse”, but there’s also some Black Album sounds on songs such as “The Day That Never Comes” and “The End of the Line”.

Even Load/Reload influences appear with “The Unforgiven III”, which is a pretty unnecessary sequel. “The Unforgiven” was great, “The Unforgiven II” was good, “The Unforgiven III” is just filler. At least they tried doing something different, whereas the first two “Unforgiven” songs were sonically similar, but it just screams Load to me and that’s not what I wanna hear.

Definitely one of 2008’s best releases. Oh yeah, one more big positive for this album… GUITAR SOLOS!

But alas, not all is well with this release (which for strange reason won’t play in my car stereo without clipping)… The packaging could’ve used some more thought. When it’s on the shelf at the store, it looks great. The old Metallica logo is back in silver and you’ve got “DEATH MAGNETIC” right on the front as well. But you tear off the shrink wrap and what do you get? Nothing, because the text is a PART of the shrink wrap. I originally thought I had torn the cover while tearing the plastic open! The design with the coffin holes is pretty cool, but it needs SOMETHING covering it because I can just imagine this CD getting snagged and torn easily thanks to the open hole on the front. Also, thanks to the coffin hole, some of the lyrics are cut out, when they could’ve easily shifted them *around* the hole. Minor quibble, but worth quibbling about nonetheless.

Highlights: Everything but…

Lowlights: “The Unforgiven III”

www.metallica.com
www.myspace.com/metallica

METALLICA – Reload

Metallica – Reload (1997, Elektra Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Fuel” – 4:29
2. “The Memory Remains” – 4:39
3. “Devil’s Dance” – 5:18
4. “The Unforgiven II” – 6:36
5. “Better Than You” – 5:21
6. “Slither” – 5:13
7. “Carpe Diem Baby” – 6:12
8. “Bad Seed” – 4:05
9. “Where the Wild Things Are” – 6:52
10. “Prince Charming” – 6:04
11. “Low Man’s Lyric” – 7:36
12. “Attitude” – 5:16
13. “Fixxxer” – 8:15

Band:
James Hetfield – Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Kirk Hammet – Lead Guitar
Jason Newsted – Bass
Lars Ulrich – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Bernardo Bigalli – Violin (“Low Man’s Lyric”)
Marianne Faithfull – Backing vocals (“The Memory Remains”)
Jim McGillveray – Percussion
David Miles – Hurdy gurdy (“Low Man’s Lyric”)

Produced by: Bob Rock, James Hetfield, and Lars Ulrich

Is it Reload or ReLoad? Many places list it as one or the other. I call it Reload. Anyway, I’m not one of those Metallica fans who claims to hate Metallica. How does that even make sense? Sure, this album and its predecessor, Load (and the Black Album for that matter), are huge departures from their original thrash sound, but so what? If you took Load and Reload and trimmed the fat from both, you’d have a really good album, even if it’s not Master of Puppets 2: Electric Boogaloo.

That said, there’s just way too much filler here for my ears. The songs are too slow and long and all the great intensity and energy “Fuel” opened the album with is totally lost by the end of the album. Where Metallica used to come charging full force on their 80s classics, they just kinda ploddingly stomp around on Reload.

Highlights: “Fuel”, “The Memory Remains”, “Devil’s Dance”, “The Unforgiven II”, “Slither”, “Fixxxer”

www.metallica.com
www.myspace.com/metallica

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