Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Four Horsemen


The definitive judgment

Sell-outs, metal gods, thrash creators, Hall of Famers – I just refer to them as ‘Tallica.

There’s a different breed of people found in metal. It’s like being a Marine; you may stop wearing the uniform, but you never lose the attitude. There’s just something tangibly different about the musical style and the following, the lifestyle that encompasses it. You can’t quite put your finger on it unless you join it and experience it. Once you live it, you understand. Once you understand, you’re part of a brotherhood.

That brotherhood can be witnessed at a ‘Tallica show; seen in the framework of their CDs and live concerts; and the videos and images from over the years. It’s what fueled their desire to spew out some of the greatest metal the genre has ever seen, and what disintegrated their reputation and the band. (specifically the line-up)

It’s been over 25-years since their first LP, Kill ‘em All. 25-years since their hair strung its way down to their shoulders and their faces looked like ugly teenage Muppets. Those were the days when James Hetfield’s voice sounded like he hadn’t hit puberty and Kirk Hammett looked like he’d been plucked out of a church choir… and Cliff Burton looked stone as ever. It was before Dave Mustaine and Megadeth hit the scene, as well.

25-years later they line-up is 1/4 altered. They’re approaching the big FIVE-O. A new rejuvenated sound is on the streets giving the young generation a taste of the old school thrash. The one thing that hasn’t changed, no matter how many haircuts and therapy sessions are in the books, is the attitude, is Metallica.

10. St. Anger

I don’t care what anyone says – I think ‘The Unnamed Feeling’ is a wonderful song.

9. Garage, Inc.

I listen to this because of ‘Turn the Page’, ‘Mercyful Fate’ and ‘Astronomy’. That’s about it.

8. Load

It’s tough to rank Load and Reload. Load has some of my all-time favorite songs on it by the Horsemen, ‘Bleeding Me’ and ‘The Outlaw Torn’, but Reload start to finish seems better put together. Then again it could be said that they’re one album to begin with. Like I said, this one is ‘Bleeding Me’ and ‘The Outlaw Torn’, along with ‘King Nothing’, ‘Until it Sleeps’ and ‘Mama Said’.

7. Reload

Most people hate Metallica for ever leaving their original style and going towards blues rock and whatever St. Anger was supposed to be. While I too am madly in anger with them over it, I also thank them at the same time because the change gave us countless classics. They may have sacrificed their initial creation of thrash but they didn’t give up on providing good music. Songs like ‘The Unforgiven II’ and others such as ‘Fuel’, ‘The Memory Remains’, ‘Devil’s Dance’, ‘Slither’, ‘Carpe Diem Baby’, ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ and ‘Fixxxer’ prove that.

6. Death Magnetic

I read once that this is what was meant to follow Justice. I agree slightly. If this had come out in say, 1990 or 1991, this would’ve been one of their best records to date. It’s Master of Puppets, Part II, only they’re in their mid-to-late 40s and with limited creativity and gas left in the tank.

5. Metallica

This ended up being what came after Justice, and for their efforts, they redefined metal, themselves, and in doing so have such classics as ‘Enter Sandman’, ‘Sad But True’, ‘Nothing Else Matters’, ‘The Unforgiven’, ‘Wherever I May Roam’, ‘The God that Failed’ and ‘My Friend of Misery’ to boast about.

4. Kill ‘em All

This is easily one of the best debut albums I can think of. Hearing this makes me wish Dave Mustaine had stayed in the band. His ability to create insane guitar sections and solos is unparalleled. Metallica, with the help of never having lost Cliff Burton, and Mustaine at guitar instead of Hammett, would without a doubt be the best thing in rock and metal in the last 30-years. Instead they’re just one of.

3. …And Justice for All

I wrote a review for this once on Metal Storm’s website. It summed it up pretty well: this was more of a therapy session than an album. Listen to the anger and anguish and you’ll get a sense of what I’m referring to.

2. Ride the Lightning

This is a band taking things to a level no one usually reaches on their sophomore effort. Forever one of the best metal albums, Lightning immerses you in a storm of hell and fire and forgets to turn off the heat.

1. Master of Puppets

There are no gaps; no fillers; no mistakes. The listener is never bored and their time never wasted. Everything is calculated and brought down with a hammer.

25. The Unforgiven II

I vowed to have something off everything they did minus concert releases. This is easily 1997’s Reload best and was a fantastic continuation to the ‘Unforgiven’ series.

24. The Unnamed Feeling

Like I said, I don’t care what you think. It’s haunting.

23. Astronomy

Sorry Blue Oyster Cult, but the mighty Hetfield’s bellow and roar decimates your original attempt.

22. The Four Horsemen

Talk about the self-promotion, eh?

21. The Day that Never Comes

Sure, it’s ‘One’s’ clone, but the sting is felt in a different way.

20. Fight Fire with Fire

Easily one of their most underrated tracks. I’d throw in ‘Ride the Lightning’ and ‘Trapped under Ice’ as well from the same record.

19. Whiplash

Blistering in its speed, unforgiving in its subject matter… Kill ‘em All’s fire is felt here.

18. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)

The bridge and solo are electrifying.

17. Sad but True

Very simple and brutally heavy.

16. Turn the Page

While Seger got lost in the mystical powers of the saxophone, Metallica lets loose
soul from every corner of their abilities.

15. Nothing Else Matters

Can a guy get an anthem?!

14. For Whom the Bell Tolls

Such a basic drum piece closes this, yet it so effective. I slam my hands to its beat on my steering wheel when jamming to this. Probably ill-advised.

13. …And Justice for All

Titanic-sized. Politically charged. Justice seeking.

12. Dyers Eve

Such a gritty teenage anthem. This one’s for all the angry and disgruntled teens out there.

11. Enter Sandman

It’s like that freight train that’s coming your way, as told in ‘No Leaf Clover’.
Sandman is the terror in your head and the bad-assery you’ve always craved.

10. The Outlaw Torn

I read once that it doesn’t matter what Metallica ever does to their sound, just so that they continue to poor their heart into their music so much that it overflows from the speakers and into your lap. Well, well… I tend to agree.

9. Fade to Black

Think you need a way to convince a woman you’ve got a heart? Play this while you drive them home from dinner and watch, act, repeat.

8. Disposable Heroes

An absolute marathon. Run and/or walk 10-to-20 miles while rucking it and carrying an M-249 and you’ll know what it’s like to not only listen to this but be what it’s talking about.

7. To Live is to Die

The most emotionally charged creation of Metallica’s career.

6. Bleeding Me

Whatever I said for Outlaw, repeat here and savor.

5. Orion

I still can’t wrap my head around the process taken to make this. Maybe that’s because it’s from the mind of Cliff Burton.

4. Battery

I’d have to agree with a friend of mine who said that if Dave Lombardo or someone of the same quality were the drummer for Metallica, this would be their definitive track.

3. One

Machine-gun guitar, double-bass drums, and longhair – can’t top it.

2. Creeping Death

The introduction sounds like the front lines of a battle between greek gods and man. The break down that follows takes it into the skies where demons roam. Hetfield catapults it into biblical times and the scene of death and god’s wrath. ‘So let it be written, so let it be done, to kill the first born pharaoh’s son – I’m creeping death!’ This song features the greatest moments in Metallica’s live performances history, most notably declared during the crowd pleasing ‘Die, die, die (repeat)’ section, and when Het and newest over the years would combine for ‘mother fucker I shall pass!’ you truly ride the lightning during this one.

1. Master of Puppets

You don’t fully understand this song’s majesty until you experience it live. It’s crazy how they virtually created a bridge that dissects this into what could be two separate songs.

Must Have’s

S&M DVD and/or CD

Some may criticize a metal band for softening themselves and unplugging, like countless artists have done at this point. One can’t possibly scrutinize a metal band for adding a goddamn symphony to their classics in concert. I mean really… how can anyone go wrong, especially Metallica, by doing this. You can’t, and they didn’t. This is a remarkably fun experience and I kick myself for having been born in 1989 and not being old enough to have been at this 1999 concert.

Best Performances: For Whom the Bell Tolls, Bleeding Me, The Outlaw Torn, One, Nothing Else Matters

Live Sh*t: Binge and Purge DVD and CD

Concerts from various years and locations in Seattle, San Diego and Mexico City make up this compilation. The best piece of the pie is the video footage of the 1989 concert in Seattle, Washington. It is bar none the best footage I’ve ever seen of live Metallica play. It’s them at their highest peak.

Any Footage of the 1991 Monsters of Rock Performances in Moscow, Russia

Absolute ginormous in its attendance, the Monsters of Rock outdoor festival was a huge success. The fact that Metallica played was monumental and probably responsible for its memory. They were epic.

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