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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”

http://www.metallica.com
http://www.facebook.com/Metallica

Buy Beyond Magnetic [CD Edition] at Amazon.com

Trimming the Fat: Metallica’s Load & ReLoad

 

Quite some time ago I took a look at Guns N’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion albums, took the best tracks and laid out what I thought one single album should’ve looked like (never mind there is a UYI compilation… mine is better). Well, I’m here to do that again.

The subject? Metallica. The albums? Load and ReLoad.

The original plan was for Load to be a double album but with some songs coming along slower than others, this idea was scrapped. The 14-track Load was released in June 1996 while the band continued to work on the remaining songs and released them as ReLoad (13-tracks and essentially “Disc 2” of Load) in November 1997.

Both albums are completely filled with, er, um… filler. Too many tracks, too many long tracks. Load is nearly 79 minutes. ReLoad is 76 minutes. Both albums are WAY TOO LONG.

I know it’s fashionable online to bash anything and everything this band has done since 1991 (even 1988 if you’re particularly grouchy) but mid/late ’90s Metallica wasn’t too bad. Were they card carrying members of the Metal Militia anymore? Absolutely not but that doesn’t mean they weren’t able to spit out a few good hard rock numbers… even if those songs did have a southern rock and/or alternative vibe. Corrosion of Conformity, anyone? What is too bad is that Metallica thought they were onto something so special that they felt they needed 2 albums, 27 tracks and 2.5 hours to tell their tale.

I give you the “Metal Excess Cut”:

Loaded: The Very Best of Load & ReLoad

Fuel
Ain’t My Bitch
King Nothing
Devil’s Dance
The Unforgiven II
Bleeding Me
Slither
The Memory Remains
Hero of the Day
Until It Sleeps
Fixxxer

Of course I profess no great skill when it comes to sequencing the tracks, so you mileage may vary, but I will not budge on “Fixxxer” being the closer.

So there you have it. I think these 11 tracks are really the only ones worth listening to from Load & ReLoad and with a running time of a little over 60 minutes, it may still be a tad lengthy but certainly better than nearly 80 minutes!

Buy ‘Load’ at Amazon.com

Buy ‘ReLoad’ at Amazon.com

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

What Dreams May Come…

Last night I had a dream about Metallica searching for a new singer. This whole lead singer search was being filmed as a documentary. James was still in the band, but for some reason, they just wanted someone else to sing the songs.

Bret Michaels jammed with them as part of the auditions and did a pretty darn good job. They weren’t playing thrash, but it was still heavy metal and the new song had a pretty cool groove and was very catchy. Bret was doing a great job on the vocals with a rapid fire delivery. A Bret Michaels fronted Metallica sounded great, but after he left the auditions, Lars & James were talking about how they didn’t think he fit the band’s image.

Also mentioned by Lars & James to have auditioned (but not seen in the dream) were none other than Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley! I think, possibly, Aerosmith as a whole auditioned for the lead singer spot as well, but that’s kinda hazy.

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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