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by CDNOW: Few albums draw a line in the sand like
Metallica's debut, Kill 'Em All. Others may have come first,
but the entire thrash-metal movement solidified itself with
this explosive speed-riffing juggernaut. Upon initial release,
all heavy metal before it -- with the exception of Motorhead
-- suddenly sounded slow; whereas afterward, an entire new
army of bands took up the carpal-tunnel-inducing rhythmic
attack. In an instant, there was thrash metal, speed metal,
and death metal rubbing up against the unfettered velocity
of hardcore punk. Something new was definitely in the air.
With lyrics concerned with neither girls nor partying, the
songs from these serious metal maestros stressed ominous
chords and spirited, ghoulish shouting without resorting
to the labyrinthine, Dungeons & Dragons-type mysticism
championed by such bands as Iron Maiden. Singer James Hetfield,
not yet an accomplished stylist, saw himself as a general
leading his band of freedom fighters into the abyss. Such
tunes as "Metal Militia" and "The Four Horsemen"
were designed to give listeners the idea they were headed
on a dangerous and thrilling ride. Guitarists Hetfield and
Kirk Hammett combined for a perfectly woven attack, playing
with both abandon and precision, and powered by the unrestrained
assault of drummer Lars Ulrich and bassist Cliff Burton.
Metallica went on to become well known and respected for
its multitiered songwriting constructions, the material
here, for the most part, is much simpler. As a band new
to the studio, Metallica had only its live show to showcase.
The flat-out aggression of "Whiplash" and "Hit
the Lights" served as live-show staples, and their
versions here nearly reproduce that adrenaline-injected
are countless highlights: "Jump in the Fire,"
"Phantom Lord," "Seek & Destroy"
and "The Four Horsemen" kick out the jams from
every direction. The superior musicianship demonstrated
here hinted at even greater accomplishments to come, but
Kill 'Em All wasn't a bad way to start.
by CDNOW: Staff Picks are personal recommendations
from the music collections of CDNOW's knowledgeable technical,
administrative, marketing, merchandising, customer service,
and managerial staff.
Before the huge Napster controversy, before the 10 million
copies of "the Black Album" were sold, and even
before bassist Cliff Burton was tragically killed in an
infamous tour bus accident, Metallica was at work developing
a dedicated fan base by adhering to three simple tenets:
Harder. Faster. Louder.
Metallica’s debut album Kill 'Em All was nothing more
than a brutal assault, this follow-up is marked by a greater
sense of craftsmanship in both writing and playing. Ride
the Lightning takes everything great from its predecessor,
and begins to add the sounds of experience and confidence.
It’s still a bunch of kids doing the only thing they
know how to do, without the "benefit" of a slick
production and management team -- but that’s what
makes this CD what it is. The songs are too long and generally
too unpolished for commercial airplay, yet that didn’t
stop the album from becoming a success and propelling Metallica
toward the mega-stardom they would soon enjoy.
the merits of "Fade to Black" alone, this album
would qualify as a must-have. But more importantly, this
early Metallica is what inspired 90% of the metal genre
in the '80s and beyond. It’s not only great to listen
to, but it’s significant from a historical perspective
as well. Ride the Lightning is raw energy, pure and unadulterated.
A little rough around the edges, perhaps, but a landmark
album no headbanger should be without.
by College Media: Since its beginning, Metallica
has been lumped into the thrash/death/speed metal category,
and it's unfortunate. They possess all the power, speed
and aggression found in that genre, but Metallica is more
musical. Each track is quite long, yet kept alive by unpredictable
chord changes and arrangements. The album starts off with
a nice acoustic - gasp - guitar intro, kicking into a fast-paced
headbanging delight called "Battery." "Damage
Inc.," or the title track and the rest come across
heavy without being mindless, powerful but not brutal, and,
above all, always exciting. Don't underestimate these guys;
if this album follows the great success of their previous
LP, Ride The Lightning, this young band just may become
the next big thing.
JUSTICE FOR ALL
by College Media: How to convince the unmoshing
millions of Metallica's wonderfulness? The joys of speed
metal are usually lost on the MOR-drained minds of the well-named
"masses," who inexplicably prefer The Cosby Show
and traditional sexual mores to a good, solid bounce around
the living room. Perhaps we could explain the intelligence
in the grooves of Metallica's records, their well-considered
beliefs in liberty and basic freedoms. Even George Bush
couldn't deny those values. Perhaps a dissertation on the
roots of Metallica's music is in order; their reverence
for such critically acclaimed practitioners as the Misfits
is worn on their sleeves. Maybe the economic approach will
work, explaining how, without commercial radio airplay or
MTV play (they've never made a real video, though they've
released a videocassette of live material from audience
bootlegs) they sell millions of records and help keep American
industry growing. But perhaps best of all would be to play..
.And Justice For All very, very loud. Go ahead-it just might
work. Top cuts: "Harvester Of Sorrow," "To
Live Is To Die," ". . .And Justice For All."
by CDNOW: In the five years since the release of
their last album, Metallica has corroded beyond recognition.
Their 1996 opus, Load, not
only ranks as one of this year's biggest disappointments,
but comes across as a parody of the intelligent, brooding
hard rock which made Metallica's eponymous 1991 disc a watershed.
Alas, the very attributes
which used to define Metallica as poignant and powerful
have now become business-as-usual. Today the world is all
too familiar with Hetfield's growl, Lars' scowl, and the
other stern Metallica trademarks that once-upon-a-time seemed
to indicate integrity and purpose.
Granted, Load possesses
a few redeeming moments: "Hero of the Day" injects
an iota of uplift amid the rampant sturm und drang, and
"Mama Said" provides a desperately needed peek
behind Metallica's armor. But all other potential escape
routes from the dungeon are blocked by trudging tunes, stale
riffs, and Hetfield's neo-gregorian recitation of gripes.
Perhaps it was inevitable
that Metallica would collapse under the weight of their
own dour pretension. Rather than indulge in a glimmer of
mirth, they avoid humor as if it were the ebola virus. Hetfield
& Co. prefer to proudly wear their angst like an endlessly
dripping red bandage of courage -- encrusted with blood
and bile -- on their deeply furrowed brows.
Nobody is suggesting that
Metallica transform themselves into alterno/metal's answer
to Up With People, but hey, even the most incorrigible gloomsters
can benefit from a change of attitude (or at least a fresh
tourniquet) every few years.
Sooner or later, all 15-year-old
metalheads grow up, move out of their parents' wood-paneled
basement rec rooms, and join the human race -- or else embrace
rage, masturbation and fantasy as their chosen (albeit frustrating)
alternative reality. In their devotion to purity of artistic
purpose, Metallica doesn't recognize their own ever-thickening
right hand callouses, or the vanishing line which separates
Load from wank. Get a grip, guys.
by College Media: "No rules but Metallica
rules," frontman James Hetfield was quoted as saying
just before the release of the band's 1991 commercial breakthrough,
the so-called "black album." The double entendre
- a humdinger to begin with - applies even more now than
it did before. No doubt you've heard petulant headbangers
quibbling over the band members' new haircuts and the Anton
Corbijn photography in the Load liner notes since the album
hit the racks in spring of '96, but it's useless flailing:
Metallica makes its own stinkin' rules, and the fact remains
that the band is the most colossal active hard rock band
in the world, a juggernaut that's always at the top of its
game. In fact, no other band can even rock their way onto
the playing field, a fact resoundingly proven by Reload:
Not only is Metallica back on schedule, releasing albums
and touring on a somewhat regular basis, but amazingly,
Reload is actually mostly made up of Load outtakes! Unbelievable.
The opening scorcher, "Fuel," and its firey break,
with nothing but Hetfield's growling "Gimme fuel, gimme
fire, gimme that which I desire!" will have your humble
abode rocking and crumbling Earthquake!-style. Once you're
sufficiently pumped, imitate the poses in the live photos
and dig into "Carpe Diem Baby," "Devil's
Dance," "Bad Seed" and "Prince Charming."
by MTV: Many diehard Metallica fans (myself included)
already have most of the second disc of this giant (over
two hours of music) package, which collects every cover
song the band has committed to vinyl, tape, or disc. This
is a treasure trove in itself, for both the fans who missed
the original release of Garage Days Re-Visited (which is
included here in its entirety) and the hardcore completists
who are still missing one or two of those Motorhead covers.
Of course, now you can have all these songs -- and then
some, like the band's monster take on Diamond Head's "Am
I Evil?" or the classic rip through the Misfits' "Last
Caress" -- on one convenient disc.
links the previously released material on Garage Inc. with
the eleven new covers recorded especially for this release
is the band's pure love and respect for the acts they cover,
and the influence those acts brought to the members of Metallica
themselves. Even though the new covers are a more diverse
lot than before, including such far-ranging choices as Bob
Seger' "Turn The Page" and Nick Cave's "Loverman,"
each song is treated as a bona fide classic by Metallica
and performed with joy and enthusiasm.
OF THE DAY
IN THE JAR