What does it sound like?:
So while having as of two years never knowingly listened to any Metallica (Enter Sandman aside) I have now spent a number of weeks closeted first with master of puppets and now …And Justice For All. It’s 147 songs in the Deluxe Box Set.
This is the senior Moles review, Daughter Moles in the comments. Hers is about ten times longer…you have been warned.
Firstly, the album itself. Daughter Moles will be riffing on the intricacies of this track played on that tour and stuff like that. The riffs are still pieces of granite, the drums thud, the guitars occasionally wail and there’s growly vocals. The songs are a bit longer than on For Whom… and in the case of To Live is to Die there are slow sections that contrast nicely with the full on sludgerama that is their default sound. On this track, there’s perhaps a whiff of a new genre emerging, thrash prog. Mmm. The slow bits could be lifted from late-70s Rush. Elsewhere, as on opener Blackened it is all thrash all the time.
Interesting that they went for a more recognisable heavy metal sound next on the black album, as this is the sound of a band both slowing down (the overall tempo must be slower than Master of Puppets…) and expanding their sound. Dyer’s Eve and Blackened are perhaps last runs through the faster-than-you sound of the early stuff before MTV beckoned. There’s even a thrash ballad in One: practically auditioning for a slot on Leather and Lace IV.
What are they singing about? You know, world domination, injustice, terror, death. Going out with them must be a bundle of laughs. Unless they confirm to the old theatrical truism that the cast playing Hamlet are in hysterics all the time, while those doing a Noel Coward are throwing shade to each other non-stop.
Okay, now onto the super deluxey bit. I trialled a new way of wading, sorry prancing, through the CDs of riff tapes, demos, rough mixes, work in progress mixes and so on that make up half of this edition. I took one song – Blackened – and listened to all the versions one after the other. And, you know, it’s quite interesting to hear how a riff becomes an instrumental. Vocals are added pretty late on, and finally thin, flat versions of what ends up on the album. Anyone who wonders what a producer does (even if this album is famously non-produced) should have no doubts after listening to a few tracks in this way. Would I ever want to listen to 6 versions of Blackened in this way again? Er, no.
Then there are some B-sides, a Budgie cover being one of them. They are more listenable to without actually being any good. And then there are four concerts. Between-song banter is there. I listened to some of the songs and they are a bit heavier on record. Some of them are a bit out of tuney. There’s some pretty agressive between-song banter – whatever the crowd are doing its clearly not enough for James as half the time he sounds so angry he’s going to get down in the mosh pit and show them how it should be done.
What does it all *mean*?
Lastly, and I cannot emphasise this enough, a lot of them do sound the same. With reggae that’s not a problem. With thrash metal a bit more so. Certainly makes writing a review a bit harder. Are the songs as good as Master of Puppets…. Well they are certainly longer.. I wrote that most of the tracks on that could do with an edit button. What I wrote a year ago, but in spades here.
Goes well with…
Some fava beans and a nice rioja. Only joking guys!
Might suit people who like…
Metallica. Metallica. Metallica.