METALLICA! Album by album
Formed in 1981, Metallica has reached multi-platinum status with their 9 studio and 3 live albums. They started in the beginning as the most influential trash metal band of their time, then, after their ground-breaking and critically acclaimed self-titled album, they took a hard right and started to delve into hard rock and bluesy sort of music that defied their own name. After that they turned direction once more in 2003. After this sort of "return" they remembered the type of music their fans mostly enjoy and created "Death Magnetic." In this Hub, I will give a short description,review, and rating to each album released by one of my favorite bands, Metallica!
In their debut album, "Kill 'Em All," Metallica introduce the musicianship and musical power they would continue for albums to come in an incredibly thrashy way. If I could summarize this album with one word it would be "energy." That is the word that Metallica's debut brings to mind from Hit The Lights to Metal Militia. From touring the world and kicking ass to destroying shit with no remorse, this album is definitely energetic. James' vocals are really great, better than he currently is but not as good as on later albums. Best songs are easily, Seek And Destroy, The Four Horsemen, and No Remorse. This album is metal, and nothing else. 6/10
Their second album, "Ride the Lightning," belongs in the top tier of Metallica's discography. From the blistering speed of Fight Fire with Fire, you can easily see the potential these guys had in the early 80's. More emotional than "Kill 'Em All," For Whom the Bell Tolls and Fade to Black are both profound and Metallica's best material at that time. While the album suffers from unnecessary tunes like Trapped Under Ice and Escape , the overall excellence of the album is reflected in the instrumental and, the best tune on the whole album, Creeping Death! If there was ever a headbanging moment in 1984's metal scene, it was when James sings "Die! By my hand!" Heavy stuff. 8/10
Without a doubt, "Master of Puppets" is one of the best heavy metal albums in existence, and is the best album from Metallica. The whole album is heavy throughout, as the title track, Damage Inc., and The Thing That Should Not Be all illustrate. But there is also a great balance of melody; Orion and Welcome Home (Sanitarium) being prime examples of this intensity. Another, more accessible, melodic point in the album is the guitar solos halfway through Master of Puppets . Combine these with the aggression of the rest of the album, and it solidifies its place in heavy metal history. 10/10
Hammer of Justice Crushes You!
Released after "Master of Puppets," "...And Justice for All" is lesser both in quality and in production, but that doesn't stop it from being their last incredible album! Considering one should listen to the remastered version with ample bass, it has provided some of their greatest hits, namely One. Their most successful effort at that point, featuring four singles (Blackened , not included?!?!), it also saw the first Metallica music video, for One. Basslessness notwithstanding, there are additional criticisms of this, as allmusic.com put it, flawed masterpiece. One being the length and unnecessary composition of the songs. ...And Justice for All is a great tune, but almost ten minutes of greatness? Not quite. While the masterpiece is, indeed, flawed, songs like One, Blackened, The Shortest Straw, and Harvester of Sorrow illustrate the musicianship and writing abilities of Hetfield and Ulrich, as these pre-90's years would be their best. 9/10
A Step in a Different Direction
Easily their best selling album to date, and one of the highest selling records of all time, their self-title release spawned five hit singles. Looking at this album, as a whole, it is not as good as their previous two albums. But that doesn't mean it wasn't badass, just to a different extent. Songs like Sad But True and Wherever I May Roam shine through as the heaviest cuts off the record, yet softer, lighter ballads like The Unforgiven and the painstakingly simple Nothing Else Matters became huge hits. There are also a handful of songs that were great, yet missed their potential. For instance, Through the Never and Of Wolf and Man are both fantastic tracks, yet missed their marks, but not for lack of trying, as the whole album took about two years to write and record. Then others, like My Friend of Misery and The Struggle Within have no place but as extras on some deluxe version marketed years after the release. Certainly successful, with some damn groovy tunes, Metallica would be the last album, for a good while, that lived up to its creators' name. 8/10
A Load, indeed. But of what?
Forgetting the name, "Metallica," for a time, the boys took another sharp turn, as they did with the self-titled album, but in the wrong direction. But have no fear, some fans granted them a newer, perhaps more suited name, "Selloutica." Not that I support of engage in those sort of accusations, all I say is that the songs became more generic and bluesier, the lyrics less potent and more personal, and the attitude less aggressive. Of all, one of the most significant factors to note is the lyrics; personal struggles and, yes, "feelings" crept their way into the once metal masters, just listen to Bleeding Me, Until It Sleeps, and Mama Said. If I ranked their previous efforts pretty damn highly with one set list of standards, I would assume I rank this album poorly with the same one. Change is fine, but I like heavy metal. 6/10
Choosing not to release a double album and instead do two within two years, "Reload" was the flolow-up to "Load," appropriately. Featuring three singles, it continues along the same vein its predecessor did; it's bluesy, groovy, and not heavy metal. The most played song on the entire album, Fuel boasts speed and ferocity, but nil concerning lyrical content. "Give me fuel, give me fire, give that which I desire!" Is this a joke? The Justice and Puppets albums had such a lyrically volatility to them, it is depressing to see this display of nothing worth hearing. "OOHHH cars go fast and I like!" Please! As for the rest of the album, the songs sound like, probably because they are, chaff left off of "Load." These didn't make the cut, so are placed on this record. Shows that an album ranking #1 on the Billboard 200 speaks nothing of its quality. 4/10
After a lengthy period of absence, the lead singer exited rehab and rejoined Metallica to record their next album, "St. Anger." Changing the drums to snare and forsaking solos, emotional and gritty tracks were laid out. While some great riffs were spawned out of songs like Frantic and Some Kind Of Monster, the album sounds too amateurish and almost painful at some parts, ie. Dirty Window, Sweet Amber, and My World. The emotion and intensity to the album is, no doubt, authentic, but ugliness and the overall tone leaves the listener questioning the thought process that went into the creation of such a strange release. Powerful? Yes. Gritty? Certainly. Worth the listen? If a longtime fan, yes, but not for one who is looking for some, say, good music. 6/10
Return of Metallica
Returning to trash and a more technical approach to recording and song-writing, "Death Magnetic" was released five years after "St. Anger." A return, indeed, but a reclamation of former talent? Not quite. Shitty production, aside (I listen to the Guitar Hero version anyway), multiple songs suffer from their length and interchangeable solos. The good of the album is in the speed and lyrics of songs like All Nightmare Long and That was Just Your Life. While not entirely stripping themselves of their past hard rock activities, for instance, Cyanide and The Judas Kiss, they've made the best album they have since '91. Songs like the second unnecessary Unforgiven sequel and the whole of the quality-detracting My Apocalypse should have been dropped in favor of a few tunes heard on their EP, but, as a Metallica fan, you are grateful for what you get. 7/10