Category: Metallica

Metallica – Master of Puppets

ARTIST: Metallica                           220px-Metallica_-_Master_of_Puppets_cover

TITLE:  Master of Puppets

YEAR RELEASED: 1986

CHART ACTION: #29 US, #41 UK

SINGLES: Master of Puppets

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: The Thing That Should Not Be, Welcome Home (Sanitarium)

LINEUP: James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, Cliff Burton, Lars Ulrich

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Their tour-de-force, and quite possibly THE metal album of all time. It’s certainly in the conversation.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: What can you say about this album that hasn’t been said already? Eight standout tracks, all with complicated riffing, the perfect balance of mayhem and control. Add in themes that are universal, and the perfect vocal scream / shout from James Hetfield, and you’ve got near perfection.

The stretch from the title track, to “The Thing That Should Not Be”, to “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” should be what you play to all metal doubters. The versatility, musicianship, feeling, emotion and drive in those songs, one right after another, is among the best stretch in any album ever.

Even the instrumental, “Orion”, isn’t indulgent like many metal instrumentals and is a band showcase that show the strengths of the entire band in composition and playing.

You gotta have this record. Gotta have it, no questions asked.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Sadly, it was during the European leg of the tour for this album that Cliff Burton lost his life in a bus accident.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. There are a couple of live cuts.

GRADE: A+: For me, the key cut is “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”, which shows beauty, emotion and also kicks ass.

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Metallica – Ride the Lightning

ARTIST: Metallica 220px-Metallica_-_Ride_the_Lightning_cover
TITLE: Ride the Lightning
YEAR RELEASED: 1984
CHART ACTION: #100 US, #87 UK
SINGLES: Creeping Death
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: The really famous ones are From Whom the Bell Tolls and Fade to Black
LINEUP: James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, Cliff Burton, Lars Ulrich
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A big leap forward in sophistication and chops from their debut, and yet it still thrashes and kicks ass. Production still a slight issue.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: You could tell that Metallica was going to have a leap forward based on some tracks on Kill ‘Em All. I don’t think many suspected that it would result in this leap forward.

While the production is still a bit muddy, the songs and arrangement are much more sophisticated and complex than the simpler thrashy songs on their debut. The band seemed to lock into place and weren’t all galloping ahead at full speed. Thus the interplay between instruments is greatly improved.

Hetfield’s still screamy shouty and not singing really, but this music doesn’t need a singer who’s trying to get the exact pitch every time. The energy he puts into the songs carry it through and even on the slower songs like “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “Fade to Black” he fits.

I don’t think there’s any way they could have done half of these songs in 1983. By 1984, they rolled them out without a hitch.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This was recorded in Denmark, and released on an independent label at first. Elektra soon snapped them up when Metallica was upset with the promotion of the album and re-issued it for the masses. Cha-ching!

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with two live tracks

GRADE: A: I know that some fans say this is the best Metallica record, but the production is still slightly problematic. At any rate, go bang that head!

Metallica – Kill ‘Em All

ARTIST: Metallica Metallica_-_Kill_'Em_All_cover
TITLE: Kill ‘Em All
YEAR RELEASED: 1983
CHART ACTION: #120 US, #142 UK
SINGLES: Whiplash, Jump in the Fire
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Hit the Lights, The Four Horsemen, Seek & Destroy
LINEUP: James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, Cliff Burton, Lars Ulrich.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Only the most influential metal album of the 80’s

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The effect this record had on the US and International Metal scene can’t be understated. They basically upped the ante from the good work from Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, among others, and speeded it up without losing any of the melody or musicianship. If this wasn’t Patient Zero of thrash metal, it was pretty close to the beginning.

Without this record, there’s no Slayer, no Anthrax, and Megadeth doesn’t get signed.

As for the actual album, it’s earned its reputation. The Four Horsemen shows that they can turn tempos on a dime. Seek & Destroy shows they don’t have to play at 1,000,000 MPH to make an impact, and Hit the Lights shows that you can play fast AND still come across as something more than noise.

The production of this album is a bit flat and muddy, but they were lucky to get it recorded. It’s not a perfect album by any means – some songs don’t reach that next level and the lyrics aren’t the most original. But for impact, it’s near the top.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The story of how they recorded this album and what it took is something to behold. Also, the band fired Dave Mustaine ONE MONTH before this album was recorded, so that meant Kirk Hammett had basically learned the songs on the fly.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A couple of releases appended live tracks or songs released on their Garage Band CD.

GRADE: A-: Influence is A+, but I’m grading on the record itself. Their lyrics would improve soon enough and the production would get much better.