KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

METALLICA Part 2 – Justice And Black, Binging And Purging

With their first three albums, Metallica attracted a loyal army of fans who made them one of the top metal bands in the world, but with the next couple of albums they would expand their fanbase beyond that genre, becoming MTV icons in the process. The first of these, …And Justice For All (1988), was different from their earlier releases for several reasons: Jason Newsted, formerly of Flotsam And Jetsam (a band I know nothing about), Metallica - ...And Justice For Allreplaced late bassist Cliff Burton; They stretched their songwriting & arranging abilities to the limit with a record that spans 65 minutes over 9 songs (7 of which run between 6 & 10 minutes long); And, most significantly, co-producer Flemming Rasmussen (who helmed the previous two albums) was not involved in the mixing. Because of this, the first thing you notice is the tinny sound of the recording, specifically the drums as well as the lack of any noticeable bass. Perhaps that was merely a way of hazing the new guy, or simply a result of miscommunication in the studio, but the atmosphere of this record (or lack thereof) is an unfortunate mark against an album that in most other ways is a classic. I hated to start off my discussion of this record with negative comments, but I felt it was best to get them out of the way before delving into the songs that made such an impact on me over the last week. In my previous experience listening to Metallica’s catalog I never really got to know any of the albums very well, but I always considered this one my favorite since I’m such a big fan of progressive rock (and prog-metal). I’m not sure it would still be the clear-cut favorite after getting to know the first three albums so well, but there’s a lot to love about …And Justice For All.

Newsted’s only co-songwriting credit appears on album opener “Blackened,” which slowly fades in until a chugging riff & stomping drums take over after 40 seconds. Like most of the songs on this album, it features plenty of tempo shifts. Occasionally it seems like Metallica Photo (circa 1988)they’re throwing in these shifts simply for the sake of it rather than moving the song in an interesting new direction, but most of the time they’re exploring new territory to dramatic effect. This song has two memorable hooks. The first arrives as they plow through “Fire…to begin whipping dance of the dead, blackened is the end” at an aggressive pace, while the second is slower & more ominous: “Opposition… contradiction… premonition… compromise,” with an echoed vocal after each word. At 9:45, “…And Justice For All” is only the second longest song here. Once again there’s a quiet section at first, with nice guitar interplay, before they inject a sludgy, heavy beat. Lars Ulrich pounds out a cool accented drum pattern while James Hetfield & Kirk Hammett deliver some memorable rhythm & lead guitar, respectively. Hetfield’s vocals are especially deep & snarling on this screed against social injustice, especially at “Justice is lost, Justice is raped,” but he’s also more melodic at “The ultimate insanity, exploiting their supremacy,” which is a cool & nasty hook. The song isn’t as complicated as it initially sounds, and it probably didn’t need to be that long, but it’s still a highlight on an album full of them. “Eye Of The Beholder” fades in with a super heavy chugging groove that’s not as fast or aggressive as usual. Lyrically there’s an interesting use of the words “Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear?” in the verses, recalling the Christmas classic that’s a plea for peace. I love the melody at “Independence limited…freedom of choice is made for you my friend…freedom with their exception.”

“One” was Metallica’s first Top 40 hit, and it’s unlikely material for a hit single: a dark, dreary, arduous trip through the tale of a soldier who loses his limbs, eyes, ears & mouth while retaining a sharp mind & the ability to feel pain, fear & depression. This story was based on a 1939 novel by Dalton Trumbo (which I’ve never read), and it’s as harrowing, bleak & powerful as that description would suggest. Traveling through several distinct sections, they take us on a journey from a sparse ballad with lovely guitar work through a brutal confession that no one can hear (“Hold my breath as I wish for death, oh please God wake me”), followed by a tasteful guitar solo and then a machine-gun rhythm (provided by Ulrich’s double kick drum pattern and Hetfield’s frenetic rhythm guitar) as he yells out the horror that his life has become. This is rightly regarded as a pivotal moment in the history of heavy metal (the Grammy Award for “Best Metal Performance” would confirm that), but it’s also a musical landmark that transcends genres.

[Metallica – “Harvester Of Sorrow”]

“Harvester Of Sorrow” tackles another serious subject with the story of a man who goes mad & takes it out on his family, possibly ending in murder. It starts with a syncopated riff before it shifts to moodier guitar & finally settles on a heavy, steady beat, remaining dark & claustrophobic the rest of the way. The Black Sabbath influence is obvious here. Most of the lyrics are yelled by Hetfield, but he takes it down a notch for the simple chorus: Metallica Photo (Live circa 1988)“Harvester of sorrow, language of the mad.” The longest song, at nearly 10 minutes, is the instrumental “To Live Is To Die.” Again beginning quietly, this time with nylon string guitar & subtle drumming, eventually it turns into a huge, stomping, riff-heavy affair that also includes some absolutely searing guitar solos. Album closer “Dyers Eve” is the shortest song and also the fastest, with big power chords & furious rhythm guitar. The angry lyrics “Dear mother, dear father, what is this hell you have put me through?” are clearly aimed at their youthful fans, and it’s probably the closest they come to the speed-metal of their earlier albums. The two songs I haven’t mentioned don’t live up to the standards of the others, even though they must be some fans’ favorite tracks. “The Shortest Straw” has a good chorus (“Shortest straw, challenge liberty; Downed by law, live in infamy”) but the verses don’t go anywhere, while “The Frayed Ends Of Sanity” has the “oh-ee-oh” vocals from The Wizard Of Oz that seem a little cartoonish to me. I might have preferred it as an instrumental. Those minor complaints aside, I had a phenomenal time playing this album over & over again. I only hope that one day it gets properly remastered with the engineer rediscovering Newsted’s bass track.

With the release of Metallica (1991), aka The Black Album, they went from huge to megastars…possibly the biggest rock band on the planet. New producer Bob Rock, who was best known for his work with Mötley Crüe, The Cult, Blue Murder & Kingdom Come, Metallica - Metallica (Black Album)gave the record a gargantuan sound (thankfully including Newsted’s excellent bass playing). Since I wasn’t a fan at the time of its release, I watched the phenomenon of this record unfold from a distance. Their videos were now getting regular exposure on MTV and radio stations were regularly playing their music. I also got the sense that old fans…the ones who worshipped them from their speed/thrash metal beginnings…felt that they had sold out, even gone soft. I guess I can understand that sentiment on the surface, since the tempos were mostly slower and the slick production was a perfect fit for mainstream radio at the time, but on closer inspection this record is just as fierce & powerful as anything they had previously released. The Black Album also has a reputation of including mostly shorter songs, especially compared with its predecessor. While this is true and there are no extended prog-metal excursions, 7 of the 12 songs exceed 5 minutes so it’s far from a Ramones album. For most fans, the majority of the songs here are classics, and maybe they’ve even tired of them, but having been a casual fan for only the last 15 years they sound incredibly fresh to my ears. The album is highlighted by five immensely successful singles (all of which cracked the Top 10 Mainstream Rock chart and had varied success on the Pop chart) which in many ways overshadow the rest of the record. I’ll discuss these first before talking about my favorites of the remaining tracks.

“Enter Sandman” may be Metallica’s most recognizable song. It’s the cornerstone track of this album as well as its first single, and it makes for a perfect opener. It’s a universally appealing hard rock song that manages to be moody, atmospheric, massive & powerful at the same time. Featuring dark yet catchy lyrics and some of Hetfield’s most melodic singing, the hooks never stop coming (with “we’re off to never never land” being a Metallica Photo (circa 1991)particular favorite). “Sad But True” has a great staggered riff in the intro, then shifts to a sludgy, midtempo monolith. It’s super heavy, features a cool echo effect when Hetfield screams “Hey” and even has a psychedelic vibe at “I’m your dream, make you real, I’m your eyes when you must steal.” I love the tempo shift at “Sad but truuuue.” This song may be mostly one pounding groove, but it’s very hypnotic. “The Unforgiven” has a Spaghetti Western feel in the intro, and the rest of this power ballad features an interesting arrangement where the verses are big & loud while the choruses are softer & quieter. Hetfield’s voice is at its most inviting, especially at “What I’ve felt, what I’ve known, never shined through what I’ve shown; never free, never me, so I dub thee unforgiven.” Is that an actual sitar in the intro of “Wherever I May Roam”? Whatever that is, it’s a unique sound for them before a huge glossy groove takes over. This song has some of the best dynamics I’ve ever heard from them, and the lyrical sentiment (which could be about a rock star on the road or simply a drifter…either content with being alone) is honest & direct: “Anywhere I may roam, where I lay my head is home.” The biggest surprise success is the heartfelt ballad, “Nothing Else Matters.” It’s a bonafide love song with a waltz rhythm (a first for them?). Hetfield’s vocals are softer but no less powerful than usual, and I really like the way he sings “Never cared for what they dooooo…” The string section is a gorgeous (and surprising) touch, but I can’t help wondering what their old-school metalhead fans thought the first time they heard it.

Four of the seven remaining tracks made as much of an impact on me as the better known songs. “Through The Never” was a revelation: a simple, heavy, chugging hard rocker with lyrics that are more conceptual than their usual social observations (“Gazing up to the breeze of heavens, on a quest, meaning, reason”). There are also the classic Hetfield vocals at “Twisting…turning…through the…nev-ah!” The Pantera influence is obvious on “Of Wolf And Man,” with that driving chorus and aggressive vocals (“Shape shift/nose to the wind…earth’s gift, back to the meaning of…LIFE!”). Newsted’s bass takes center stage on Metallica Photo (Promo for Black Album)“The God That Failed,” the most Sabbath-inspired tune on the album. The title would suggest an anti-religion message, but they’re merely questioning blind faith, set to a strong melody (“I see faith in your eyes, never you hear the discouraging lies”). It also features a blistering guitar solo. Album closer “The Struggle Within” is the shortest song here, beginning with a military rhythm followed by a driving, angry-sounding groove. The verses are nothing special but I love the great call-and-response vocals in the chorus (“Struggle within/it suits you fine…your ruin…you seal your own coffin”). Of the other songs not discussed, only “Don’t Tread On Me” deserves a mention for being a somewhat patriotic number (as compared to anything on …And Justice For All), the musical nod to “America” from West Side Story and guttural harmony vocals when they sing the title. All in all I have to rate Metallica as highly as their previous albums. They were evolving as a band, and I see no problem with them making a super-commercial record at that stage of their career, especially since it helped introduce millions of new fans to their music. It’s one of the rare instances where an album is a critical, commercial & artistic success.

One of the reasons it took me longer than usual to put together this post is because I had a lot of music to absorb. Each of the albums already discussed run longer than an hour, and then there’s the elaborate live set, Live Sh*t: Binge & Purge (1993). Whereas most bands celebrate a successful tour by releasing the obligatory double-live-album, Metallica Metallica - Live Shit Binge & Purge (CD-DVD)had to take it a few steps further. Originally released as a box set with three CDs & three VHS tapes in a replica tour case, it was later reissued in a slimmer box with the same three CDs & all of the video content on two DVDs. The latter is the version I own. There’s more than eight hours of music to immerse yourself in here, and none of the audio performances are duplicated on the videos. The CDs replicate a full 3-hour concert from five shows in Mexico in February & March 1993, while the DVDs represent concerts from two tours: San Diego in January 1992 (on the Black Album tour) and Seattle in August 1989 (on the …And Justice For All tour). Needless to say I now understand why they have such a passionate following, since they give fans more than their money’s worth. The concerts are filled with great performances of just about every fan favorite, with Hetfield the testosterone-fueled ringleader, Ulrich the energetic co-frontman & comic relief, Hammett the classic guitar shredder and Newsted the maniacal whirlwind, pumping up the crowd while delivering some killer bass lines (and occasionally taking over on lead vocals).

The first DVD includes a 20-minute MetalliMovie, which was shown to the crowd before each concert. It features old footage (with original bassist Cliff Burton), scenes of the band in the recording studio, excited fans buying the Black Album on the day of release, and backstage antics in real time as they pump up the crowd before taking the stage. Highlights for me include the drum duel between Hetfield & Ulrich (nice job by Hetfield, who shouldn’t be that good at something other than his main instrument) and Newsted’s intense vocals on “Seek And Destroy.” The rest of the set is chock full of classics, with nearly every song a standout. This was a band making the most of their ascension to the top. The second DVD begins by rewinding from the end of the first concert, stopping along Metallica - Live Shit Binge & Purge (Original Box)the way to showcase key events in their career between ’89 & ’92 before the main event: the 2+ hour concert. With a stage set built around the …And Justice For All artwork of a crumbling Lady Liberty, they tear through a 17-song set that includes a few covers by bands they admired: Diamond Head, The Misfits and Budgie. The 3-CD set is an enjoyable listen, with a similar setlist to the first DVD. The bass & guitar solo segment includes snippets of Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed And Confused,” The Who’s version of “Shakin’ All Over” and several other rock classics. Live Sh*t: Binge & Purge is an exhaustive document of a band at the peak of its powers. It’s not always an easy listen or viewing experience (unless you love nothing but hard rock & heavy metal), but at least in the future when I’m in the mood for this kind of music I’ll have an amazing newly-discovered live album & video to revisit.

While they continue to be one of the biggest bands on the planet all these years later, they would never reach the commercial heights that they did on the albums I revisited for this post. Next time you hear from me, I’ll be talking about the two companion studio albums they released a few years later, as well as a 2-CD compilation of cover songs, b-sides and EP’s. I’ve already played each of them once this week, but I need to give them a lot more listening time before deciding how I feel about them. Until then, let me know how you feel about …And Justice For All, Metallica/The Black Album and Live Sh*t: Binge & Purge. Was this the pinnacle of their career for you, the beginning of a decline, or had they already jumped the shark? I can’t wait to hear your opinions.

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33 comments on “METALLICA Part 2 – Justice And Black, Binging And Purging

  1. 80smetalman
    September 21, 2013

    Very good insight on these three albums. I never considered the Black Album a sell out although many people did. One joke was that they sold out because they slowed down enough so that you could understand what they were singing about.

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    • Never heard that joke before. It’s pretty funny…and accurate. I understand the concept of having an artist you love sell out, but in Metallica’s case the Black Album seemed like a logical progression. If they had continued with the prog-metal style of “…And Justice For All” I think their fanbase wouldn’t have grown much, and the band would have begun to show their limitations. In my eyes (and ears) they’re better at slightly more concise songs rather than sprawling epics.

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    • mikeladano
      September 21, 2013

      I remember the Metallica sell-out talk very well, it started well before the album was released. Just the news of them working with Bob Rock upset a lot of people.

      Imagine, in 1991, if those same fans could travel in time and hear Load. They’d consider themselves lucky.

      Having said that I actually like Load a lot and can’t wait for Rich to get there!

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      • I definitely get the sell-out complaints from fans, but I think they were too judgmental. It’s not like the band completely compromised their sound. They had taken the prog-metal epics as far as they could…any more of those and I think their limitations might have been exposed…and they still delivered a lot of kick-ass music. Great point about fans time-traveling to “Load.” I’ll be getting acquainted with the next few releases all week. I remember my biggest complaint about them is the length of each disc. Growing up in the 70s when LPs were rarely longer than 40 minutes, I think 78-minute CDs (especially 2 in a row) is a bit of overkill…but maybe I’ll feel differently after listening to them a bunch of times.

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  2. mikeladano
    September 21, 2013

    1. Listening to the new Newsted album right now by coincidence!
    2. I have the Flotsam and Jetsam album Doomsday for the Deceiver, that Jason is on. Nothing special.
    3. I have a great live version of “Dyer’s Eve” where James introduces it by saying, “This is a song we haven’t played in one hundred years!”
    4. My favourite non-single tracks from the Black album: “The God that Failed”, “My Friend of Misery”, “Through the Never”.
    5. I own both versions of the Live Isht box set. I bought the VHS version, mint, complete, back in 1997. I bought the new DVD version years later, also mint complete, but I could not get rid of the VHS version because of the box and booklet themselves. They are so big and beautiful and it’s such a cool collector’s item. It’s kind of a shame that they went half-arsed on the DVD reissue, but then again it preserves the uniqueness of the original.

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    • Good to know that Flotsam & Jetsam isn’t something I necessarily need to check out. I heard that they rarely played “Dyers Eve,” which surprised me since it’s such a cool song. Glad we mostly agree about some of our favorite non-single tracks from the Black Album, although I thought “My Friend Of Misery” was nothing special & went on way too long. There are some good melodies along the way & excellent production, but I decided it wasn’t worth discussing in the post.

      You are a true collector, Mike. If I had the VHS box & then got the DVD version, I would unload the VHS set at whatever price I could get for it…no matter how good it looks.

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  3. stephen1001
    September 21, 2013

    I have much to say on the subject!

    First off, Metallica representation on the 1001 – Master, And Justice, Metallica, and S&M. I’ve only heard pieces of S&M thus far but the first three definitely deserve to be included.

    …And Justice:
    I would hate to be an audiophile, it feels like it would be a curse. Sort of like having too refined a taste palette, you can’t really enjoy very many things. So for me, shoddy production doesn’t usually interfere with listening to a record but one of the few exceptions is this one, it simply needs more bass! I too would fully support a remastered edition with proper levels.
    The song One is an excellent example of Metallica in a nutshell: some great melodies & clean guitar work, unconventional structure & some speed at the end for their original fans. Its inclusion in the Rock Band video series introduced it to a new generation and it certainly resonates with my high school students even 25 years later. You’re right, such gruesome lyric matter doesn’t seem like typical hit single material but it worked!

    Metallica:
    I was having a good conversation today with a friend about bands that ‘devolve.’ She is struggling with the new Pearl Jam, my personal heartbreak stems from the band Weezer. I can’t even listen to the last two albums; it’s just too painful to see the devolution!
    I get that fans weren’t happy with the stadium-ready production/shorter song lengths here (if you can call 5 minutes short!), but this was not a case of devolution or abandoning effective songwriting. This album probably has their best individual songs, the muscle of this album is something else, and with so many huge singles, it’s almost like a greatest hits. I flip flop between this and MOP as my favourite in the catalogue.

    Live Sh*t:
    I remember seeing the package in stores, never heard/watched though – sounds like a comprehensive set.

    Looking forward to your take on their equally controversial ‘haircut’ phase!

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    • mikeladano
      September 21, 2013

      I’m curious how bad the last two Weezer are. Obviously Pinkerton is a classic and the first three in general are great. What happened?

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      • stephen1001
        September 22, 2013

        Weezer’s sort of like The Beach Boys in reverse.

        The first two Weezers for me are on par with Pet Sounds – sophisticated songwriting, full of emotion, still sounding as good or better almost 2 decades later.

        Then the original bass player (Matt Sharp) left and it’s been downhill since. The ‘green album’ and maladroit were still quite strong, there’s some good moments on make believe & the ‘red album’, but I haven’t been able to make it through the last 2.

        The Beach Boys started their career with the mindless ‘fun,fun,fun’ ‘dance,dance,dance’ and then Brian Wilson really developed as a writer.

        It’s just strange seeing Rivers Cuomo do that in Reverse – he wrote a couple timeless records, and now that he’s 40+, he’s singing brainless drivel over weak arrangements!

        I’ll concede because the first 2 are so revered, they’re in an unenviable position of competing with their former selves. But I prefer seeing bands mature/evolve (as Metallica did with the ‘black album’) as opposed to whatever Weezer’s doing.

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      • mikeladano
        September 22, 2013

        I hear parts of Red and I know there was some ambition on it. But then he kept putting out more and more albums and I lost track! Hurley was kind of weird.

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      • Geoff makes some great points regarding his mirror-image comparison of Weezer & The Beach Boys. I’ve been a Weezer fan since the first album, and those first two are stone-cold classics which are hard to compete with. I actually love the Green Album too, even though it’s not as powerful as its predecessors, and everything since then has been hit-and-miss. I don’t think they’ve released any complete duds, since every album has some memorable songs, but it is a shame that the best they’ve ever done (and ever will do?) came so early in their career. I have a couple of the Rivers Cuomo solo releases, with his demos, and they’re really good. I still think he’s got at least another great album in him but he needs to stop trying to relive his adolescence and just write a bunch of quality songs.

        As a huge Beach Boys fan I understand the sentiment that their early stuff was mindless and then Brian somehow flowered into the genius songwriter he’s known as, but there was some sophistication early on. I think he was always a genius but he had to write in a style that would appeal to the youth market. Just thinking about “In My Room,” “Surfer Girl,” “The Surfer Moon,” etc., you can hear a maturity that went way beyond his years.

        I love how a discussion on Metallica could morph into thoughts on Weezer & The Beach Boys. It’s nice to chat with you guys about all kinds of music. You rock!

        Hope you’re having a great weekend. My band played a kick-ass gig last night and now I’m back to domestic things. Next stop: removing a tree stump in the front yard. No music for me until this evening.

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      • stephen1001
        September 22, 2013

        And it is Hurley and Ratitude where they lost me, I did quite enjoy the ambition as well on the red album tracks I am The Greatest Man That Ever Lived & Dreamin

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      • I enjoy certain songs on “Hurley” and “Raditude” but neither of them works from start to finish for me. Sometimes when I’m in the mood for Weezer I make it a point to revisit the lesser-played albums since I know the first three so well, hoping that one day I’ll have some kind of revelation about them, but so far I only “kind of” like them.

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      • stephen1001
        September 22, 2013

        And Rich I replied before seeing your comment – my thanks and the feeling is mutual, you lads do rock!

        I’ll give the early Beach Boys another chance, I think what I’ve struggled with when I think of the early hits is that it feels like an artist not fulfilling their potential. It’s sort of like seeing a favourite group live and they phone it in – it’s disappointing because you know they’re capable of so much more. But I’ve never explored a full early album, so another investigation sounds good.

        I make a rule of avoiding comment threads on youtube and most websites as especially when the comments are anonymous, they tend to be mean-spirited (If not downright racist/sexist/homophobic). The major exception is the music blogs, especially yours and Mike’s, as the comments are half the fun, it’s always respectful & you never know where the discussion will lead.

        Glad the gig went well, good luck with the tree stump removal!

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      • Of the early Beach Boys albums, Surfer Girl is my favorite. If you’re curious about that era, I invite you to check out my post on their first six albums here:
        https://kamertunesblog.wordpress.com/2012/08/18/the-beach-boys-part-2-catching-a-wave/

        The albums can be spotty based on the aggressive release schedule back then (at least two albums a year while they were doing nonstop touring), but there’s a lot more sophistication to the vocals & arrangements than they often get credit for…especially compared to their rightfully revered later material. I apologize that some of the audio links aren’t currently working, but I should be correcting that (throughout all of my posts) in the next week or two. It’s a tedious process, but now that I found a new host for those files it should be a lot easier.

        I agree with you regarding comment threads. There are too many anonymous people with worthless “opinions” out there, but definitely not within any of the blogs I follow (and I’m glad you feel that way about mine). The whole point to this is to share our feelings about music with others who are just as passionate about it. I feel lucky to have found so many like-minded people out there.

        Happy to report that the stump removal went much easier than expected. Got to use an axe, which always makes for an enjoyable day.

        Enjoy the rest of the weekend. Hope it’s filled with lots of great music.

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    • Thanks for the thorough feedback, Geoff. I agree with you about audiophiles. I know several people who need a nearly perfect sonic environment to enjoy music, and I feel bad for them because they’re missing out on so much. I have a pretty good ear when it comes to sonic imperfections (several mastering/mixing engineers have confirmed that I’ve heard things they didn’t), but I can listen to a scratchy old recording or a bad audience bootleg & still enjoy the performances. Of course, I love when something is recorded, mixed & mastered brilliantly (very few people do it better right now that Steven Wilson, whether for his own work or remastering classic prog albums for surround sound), but my stereo system is merely decent. I’d rather spend my money on more music than spending thousands on a killer stereo but not have all the CDs/LPs to listen to.

      All that being said, it’s hard not to be disappointed with the sound of …And Justice For All, and even non-audiophiles can hear that something’s missing. It’s a shame because song-wise it’s a pretty impressive album. Glad you agree about The Black Album. There’s definitely a difference between devolution, as you stated, and honing your musical strengths, and that’s exactly what they did on that album. I’m surprised at how well those singles hold up. There’s a lot going on within each of those songs, and they all have a different feel. Metallica is certainly not a one trick pony.

      On to the “haircut phase” all week for me. There’s so much music to process (do those CDs really need to be nearly 80 minutes long?) but hopefully I’ll uncover some gems in the process.

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  4. Heavy Metal Overload
    September 26, 2013

    Great reviews of these releases, Rich. Totally agree with you on Justice’s pros and cons. Although I think the stark sound is actually quite suited to the album’s themes I’d still be keen to hear a remix just out of interest!

    I was a fan when the Black album came out and bought it on the week of its release. I never felt they sold-out and enjoyed the album (and I’d say the more “controversial” songs were the ones I enjoyed most). I expect bands to progress and I thought it was a natural reaction to the complexities of the previous record and I assume they probably burned themselves out playing that stuff live (esp. Lars!). Saying that, the album hasn’t endured as a particular personal favourite although I do enjoy revisiting it on occasion.

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    • Thanks for the feedback, and I’m glad we’re pretty much in agreement about these albums. You’re probably right about the stark sound (perfect description) of …And Justice For All being suited to the themes of the album, and at this point it’s one of the defining characteristics of the album, for better or worse.

      I can see how the Black Album wouldn’t hold up as one of your favorites after all these years. One of the joys of not immersing myself in it 20 years ago is that it’s sound incredibly fresh to me (even the hits).

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      • Heavy Metal Overload
        September 26, 2013

        I totally understand that. When I first got the Black album it received heavy rotation for a long time. Last time I listened I still enjoyed it a lot. It’s a great album just not as enduring for me as their previous ones.

        Looking forward to the haircut years!

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      • My next post will be slightly delayed due to a family emergency. I’ve already listened to those “haircut years” albums, as well as “Garage Inc,” a few times but I may not have time to finalize my thoughts & put together a post until next week. They’re definitely hit-and-miss affairs but I still need time to separate the good from the bad.

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      • Heavy Metal Overload
        September 26, 2013

        No rush, Rich! Hope everything’s ok!

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      • Thanks. Tough times with the parents but it should be okay. Music (listening to & writing about) should be a nice escape as long as I can find the time. Time to prioritize, though.

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      • mikeladano
        September 26, 2013

        Rich,
        I hope for the best in your family issues. Take care.

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      • Thanks Mike. I really appreciate it. At least you’ll understand when you don’t see my lively commentary on your posts for several days. Haha.

        Rich

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  5. soulcrusher
    September 28, 2013

    “Album closer “Dyers Eve” is the shortest song and also the fastest, with big power chords & furious rhythm guitar. The angry lyrics “Dear mother, dear father, what is this hell you have put me through?” are clearly aimed at their youthful fans,”
    Just a little correction. This song is about James youth and growing up in a very strict Christian Science house hold.

    I first heard them in about 87 at 8 years old. The Master of Puppets album and have not looked back. Still is my favorite album of all time. So to say I was not a fan of the direction they took after AJFA is an understatement. I pretty much ignore that the 90’s ever happend for Metallica. Those 3 albums of original songs are all on the same level to me. I am one of the few people you will find that likes St. Anger.

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    • I appreciate the background regarding “Dyers Eve.” In my quote I suppose I was talking about the sentiment behind the lyrics, which I still believe were aimed at their young & rabid fans. I’m glad to know the full story now, so thanks for that.

      You had pretty heavy tastes as an 8-year old. I was 8 in 1974 and my tastes were a little more mainstream…but then again heavy music wasn’t getting much radio play back then. If I were more of a metal fan I could see myself ranking “Master Of Puppets” up there with the best of all time. I certainly love it a whole lot more now than I ever did, which is the whole purpose of me revisiting their catalog like this. I doubt I’ll feel the same about those 90s albums (which I’ve listened to a few times but still need to spend more time with), but I always keep an open mind. Also looking forward to reassessing “St. Anger,” which I only played once when it came out & hated it. As a drummer myself, I hated that snare sound and could barely get through the album. I’ll give it more time in a week or two.

      Thanks again for your feedback. It’s been very informative.

      Like

      • soulcrusher
        September 29, 2013

        Well I guess it was normal for me. My earliest musical memories are of Black Sabbath, Led Zepplin and Budgie. The thing about having parents who are still in their teen years and those bands were popular just a few years earlier is that the leap to Metallica is not all that large of one. I also think it shows in the music I listen to now. Many people don’t even consider it music.

        St. Anger is not an easy listen and I think to really get it you have to watch the “Some Kind Of Monster” documentary. It really shows where they were at the time of making the album. Not something that most people are going to do to appreceate an album. Though I agree the snare that sounds like some one bouncing an over inflated basketball is hard to get past. It does not help that it is so loud in the mix either. The snare being too loud is also a major problem I had with Death Magnetic. More so than the brick walling that most people have found to be an issue with it.

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      • Even though I grew up with an older brother & sister who had a handful of singles, and my parents had a few keys LPs, I pretty much had to discover all the music I love on my own. I’m envious of people who had someone to guide them, but then again my tastes have always been my own & I’m unafraid to admit to liking anything.

        I watched “Some Kind Of Monster” a couple of years ago. I doubt I’ll watch it again during this series, but I remember enough about it to help give me some insight into where their minds were at when making that album.

        I was hoping to have my next post completed by now, but I’m out of town dealing with a family emergency and had to put the series on temporary hold. When I get back home I’ll return to “Load,” “Reload” and “Garage Inc.” I’ve played them a few times already but need to get back into a Metallica mindset before sharing any opinions on those records. I hope you’ll stop by again when I do so I can find out why you’ve pretty much disowned those.

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      • Phillip Helbig
        October 8, 2013

        St. Anger is not an easy listen and I think to really get it you have to watch the “Some Kind Of Monster” documentary.

        The scene auditioning for a bassist (and it’s conclusion) is worth the price of admission.

        Like

      • I don’t think I’ll have time to watch it again before wrapping up this series, but now that I’m more familiar with their catalog I look forward to seeing the movie with better knowledge of their music.

        Like

  6. Pingback: KamerTunesBlog Year In Review 2013 | KamerTunesBlog

  7. Deke
    January 14, 2014

    Fantastic write up Rich…awesome just plain awesome …I think And Justice For All was one if not there best.!!!
    Still remember buying my brother the live Shit Binge and Purge for my brother back for Xmas 93 when he was 15 I was 24 so I bough him cool stuff..hahaha He loved it..we spent hrs listening to it…

    Like

    • Deke, thanks so much for the kind words of support. I’m really glad you enjoyed this post. I had such a great time getting to know this batch of albums, and I was pleasantly surprised by how good The Black Album is (even though that’s where they lost a lot of their old fans). You sound like a great big brother, getting him the Live Sh*t: Binge & Purge set when he was only 15. Although I have two great older siblings, neither of them were really into music, so I had to find everything on my own.

      Again, I really appreciate your feedback.
      Cheers!
      Rich

      Like

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