When it came to the top bands for my generation or at least the time I was at school, it came down to Guns N’ Roses and Metallica. Me personally, I always preferred Guns N’ Roses, but it is undeniable that Metallica has achieved longevity and have been able to maintain their status as the best metal band. I would like to take a moment and shed spotlight on Metallica.
Formed in 1981 in Los Angeles, they got together when Lars Ulrich placed an ad looking for musicians to jam with and James answered. Cliff Burton joined the band because James and Lars saw him play and they asked him to join. Dave Mustaine joined by answering an ad for a lead guitarist. Mustaine was replaced by Kirk Hammet, who was lead guitarist for a band called Exodus. With that line up they recorded their first album, Kill Em’ all. The album is raw and contained the classic songs Seek and Destroy, four horsemen and Whiplash, songs that remained for years on live setlists. It earned them a good fan base although the album was not a financial hit.
Their second album Ride the lighting shows the band getting better. The songs are better, the writing is better. It is one of my favorite Metallica albums. Foe whom the bells tolls is a great song and so great to listen live in concert. This in album I heard a few years back because I got into Metallica heavily just recently and this is an album I really liked. The song fade to black is so beautiful, the lyrics are dark and sad and of course the center of controversy as the song was blamed for teen suicides. The other classic song on the album is Creeping Death, a look at the story of Exodus on the point of view of the angel the kills the first-born sons of Egypt.
Their third album is in my opinion a masterpiece. Master of Puppets is an amazing album. the title song is one of the most accurate songs dealing on the subject of addiction. James really was able to put in words the suffering of the addict and how he is controlled. The Thing that should not be is a chilling song that always makes me think of the movie the Creature from the black lagoon as it deals with this monster that should not exist. Welcome home (Sanitarium) is one of my favorite songs from the album. I think based on the film One flew over the cuckoo’s nest, James provides a look of how mental patients are treated when hospitalized.
Then came tragedy for the band, while on tour Cliff Burton was killed when their bus was involved in a car crash. The band looked for a replacement and hired Jason Newsted and recorded a EP called Garage Days Revisited. But soon they recorded their next album …And Justice for all. An album that earned them more fans and more commercial success with the band’s first music video for the song One. The band on their first albums really just kept getting better and better and this album was no exception. it is a great album.
The Metallica (the Black album) album came next and with this album the band exploded in the music scene. The album produced by Bob Rock had one thing very different from the past Metallica albums, the intro of the songs were shorter, no long instrumentals opening for the songs. The first song released was Enter Sandman and was played constantly on MTV. The album had 5 successful singles with The Unforgiven, Sad but true, Wherever I may roam and Nothing else matters.
With every successful band there comes a time when they anger even their fans and this was that time for Metallica. With the release of the album Load with new hairstyles, they were accused of being sellouts. Sometimes great artists is not allowed to change and try new things. Load is one of my favorite Metallica albums. Until it sleeps is a powerful song and one of my favorite songs Hero of the day are highlights of this album. Their next album for me it’s not one of their best, I liked a few songs on it, it has a similar style to Load, that is why it’s called Re-Load. From that album I liked The Memory Remains and The Unforgiven II and Low man’s lyric.
After this album, the band went through a lot of changes. James Hetfield took time off to go to rehab and the band hired a therapist to help them through some issues they had and it all was documented and released as a documentary film called Some kind of Monster. James Newsted also left the band at this time. Because the band were taking too much time without making an album so he formed a side band to do something in the meantime. James Hetfield told him he could not do that and Jason decided to leave. Metallica made their next album with Bob Rock playing base. Under this scenario the album Sgt. Anger is released. It recieved mixed reviews, mainly the sound of the drums and the fact that the album had no Kirk Hammet guitar solo on any of the songs.
The band’s next album was a return to form for the band, Death Magnetic saw the band returning to the long intros and the fast style of their early days and it paid off. It was a great album that was well received. The album marked the debut in an album of new basist Robert Trujillo. I think is the first truly great album the band made since Load. The day that never comes is an amazing song. The last album they released was called Hardwired….to self destruct and when I first heard it, I loved it from the first listen. I think it ranks among the best albums they have made.
Metallica is also well known for their battle against Napster. The file sharing website where people could download music for free, a concept the band thought was not fair as it included songs they had not released. Other projects the band has made was the concert with an orchestra, they made a film called Through the Never and Garage inc. expanding on the EP they made in 1987.
I went to see them live in 2010 when they came to Puerto Rico, before the Hardwire tour, they came without the album being out yet although they played to songs from the album. I was a great concert, they still play with so much energy and they really know how to put on a show. The band has made what is for me a wise decision, they take their time between albums, the decide the tour schedule, they really have found a way to balance their time with their families and the time making music.