Tuesday, May 02, 2023

Metallica... The Last 32 Years...

Metallica... The last 32 years...

Christ it's hard to believe it's been that long since the black album. I remember buying it and listening to it the first time, quite well. 

Anyway... A friend posted the question, what is the best song that Metallica has released AFTER 1991... And while I do have an answer for that, I wanted to really dig into it more than just flatly stating one song. Because I think most people... Even most people who still consider themselves huge Metallica fans (which I absolutely am)... Just skip over a LOT of material, that's actually not bad, or is even good, and is certainly worth including in your playlists.

One thing I find I always have to say during discussions about post '91 Metallica... "Load"  and "Reload" are actually a lot better than people remember. They're not great, they aren't even solidly into "good" territory, but they aren't awful either; maybe "not good", but not awful...and most people seem to remember them as being actually awful.

There are a few genuinely good songs, and a couple actual very good to great songs (or at least their live versions, as they play them currently... Which in some cases are VERY different, and much better, than the original album cuts)

The biggest problem... with a lot, maybe most of, their post '91 output actually, not just "load"  and "reload"... Is that most of the tracks should have been about 1/3 shorter... There's a bunch of just screwing around that doesn't add to the song, on a LOT of tracks.

And just to reinforce that, they still regularly play "Fuel", "King Nothing", and "The Memory Remains", in most of their live sets.... And play them MUCH faster, and much more aggressively than the album cuts. 

I'm excluding S&M, because it's not original studio releases... Otherwise half of S&M would be the top half dozen they've released post '91, simply because they're among the best songs Metallica has ever released, from all their albums to that point, compiled. It's not a fair or valid comparison. 

"St. Anger" is almost all hot garbage... I don't think there's any question, it's the worst album Metallica have ever released...but they still play "Frantic" regularly live. Personally, I don't like the album version that much, but their live version ain't bad. It's definitely hard rocking thrash at least (which you can't really say about anything from "Load" or "Reload").

I can't stand the "Death Magnetic" release mix, or the drum sound generally, but if you download the properly mixed version they licensed for "Rock Band" it's actually decent. Again, not great, but on balance, I'd say it's a good album overall. Also again, most of the songs are too long without good reason, and could probably be cut by a third and be a lot tighter, more focused, and generally better. 

Tightening the whole album up, might even have made it into a very good, or great album... Or maybe not... It would certainly be well into the good territory at least. 

"Cyanide", and "All Nightmare Long" are solid tracks (though once again, ANL is too long and needs more focus)... And "Cyanide"  is still in a lot of their live sets. Again, both live versions are better than the album tracks, because they're played faster and more aggressively, and with way more feel and energy. 

"That Was Your Life" would be good if it were judiciously trimmed. At 7:08, it meanders too much, not enough focus. A tight 4:30 to 5 minute version would just be concentrated classic thrash. "My Apocalypse" is only 5:08, but at a little under 4 minutes would absolutely thrash hard, and I think be very good to maybe even great. 

Also, I really WANT to like "The Day That Never Comes", but again, it needs to be trimmed and focused. As it is, it's mediocre at best 

So, I'm not ready to render an opinion about "72 seasons" yet, or even any particular tracks from it. 

So far I've only listened to the album straight through once, and have only played a few tracks any more than that. It's going to take me at least a few months and a few dozen listens to really "get" the album and it's songs. 

Now, we are finally back to what I consider to be at least a very good album... Maybe not truly great, when compared to their best...but very good at least, and the best original studio album they've released post '91 for sure... "Hardwired to Self Destruct"... 

I know it's been 7 years... which really it doesn't feel like it's been that long .. the last few years have really screwed with my sense of time... but I feel like I'm going to need a few more years of sitting with it and appreciating it to decide whether I think it's a genuinely great album or not... But it's at least very good. 

"Hardwired", pretty damned good, straight thrash like they haven't released since "Ride the Lightning", and their best title track since "... Justice...". 

"Atlas, Rise" feels a LOT like their attempt to do an Iron Maiden song... It doesn't QUITE work, but I still like it a lot. 

"Halo on Fire", I dunno, it's like... It feels like it shouldn't be as good as it is, but when I think about it, I always find myself liking it way more than I expect to. That said, at 8:05, its the first song on hardwired that I think would be better if it were significantly trimmed. I think it would definitely be much better, maybe even great, at around 6 minutes or maybe even less.

"Confusion" is a solid good to maybe very good. Not great, but really good. It's quite reminiscent of some of the songs on the last really good "Deep Purple" album, 1993s "The Battle Rages On" (also the last album recorded with the Mk II lineup). Actually, several songs from the album have a lot of that "harder end of Deep Purple" feel, which I really like. I also noted a lot of similar feel with the Testament album from the same year, "Brotherhood of the Snake" (when I first heard the track "The Pale King", I actually thought it WAS Metallica for a minute)... Which again, I think is a good thing. 

"Man Unkind" is the first song off the album that I think isn't at least good. It's like... Bits and pieces of the song are good in isolation, but as a whole the whole, it just falls apart and doesn't work at all. 

"Here comes Revenge" is... It's kinda "generic Metallica song" that could have been from any year of the 80s... Which means it's at least good. Nothing original or outstanding about it, but it's decent straight ahead classic Metallica. I find myself thinking again, that if the song were 4-5 minutes instead of 7, it would have been much better.

"Am I Savage" isn't GREAT, but it's got a cool, kinda funky, almost Pantera like groove to it, that I like... I'd call it good based on that. 

"Murder One" has a solid kinda "God that Failed" feel to it, which I dig, and again I'll call it good, based on that feel. Not great, not original, just solidly into the "good" category. 

"Spit Out the Bone"... Straight up, '83-'89 style thrash. Blistering galloping rhythm and riffage. It's this albums "Whiplash"... Very good, almost great, and genuinely great live (they're a bit looser on this song live... It's got more feel and energy and breathing room to it). 

And finally... To answer the original question... 

I skipped over it, because it's my final answer as it were...

"Moth into Flame", is actually just straight up a great song, period. 5:50 of straight high speed, pounding and driving, yet still nicely melodic, thrash metal...

...Best song on the album, and that's saying something, because there's not much on the album that isn't at least good, with several tracks very good to great... 

...And as far as I reckon it, the best song they've released after 1991.