Metallica - No Life 'til Leather (demos/self-produced/bootleg)
A bootleg of Metallica's famous July, 1982 "No Life Til Leather" demo. The lineup is Hetfield, Ulrich, Dave Mustaine, and Ron McGovney on bass. It was this demo that helped to fuel bands like Anthrax and even Slayer to move out of the Maiden/Priest style of metal and start pursuing speed. The "No Life til Leather" demo was probably one of the most widely distributed demo tapes in the underground in the 80's and is certainly the most widely known and bootlegged Metallica demo. It most certainly blew most metal fans away in '82. This three disc bootleg also contains a ton of other demo material from the classic, Cliff-years of Metallica as well as an 8-page booklet featuring photos from those early years with Dave Mustaine. The Garage Demos, which are actually just a live practice from what I can tell, really shine a light on where Metallica got it's 'unique' sound. With no less than four Diamond Head covers, Metallica wore their influence on their sleeve. Fortunately for Metallica, Diamond Head weren't well known in the U.S. at the time. "Killing Time" and "Let It Loose" were supposedly recorded as an audition tape for the Whiskey so that Metallica could get on the bill opening for Saxon. According to the story I read on-line, it was actually Motley Crue who was responsible for helping to get Metallica that opening slot that was their first (of many) big breaks.
This bootleg also contains both versions of "Hit the Lights" as they appeared on the Metal Massacre records. Metal Massacre was released in 1982 and was hugely successful. It helped to launch the careers of bands like Black'n Blue, Ratt and certainly Metallica. Because of the unexpected success of the compilation, Brian Slagel decided to re-released it (the 1st pressing was only 10000 copies). For the second pressing Metallica recorded another version of "Hit The Lights" because they felt the original one was poorly produced. As well, the KUSF demo is also included here. It is the only post-Kill 'Em All demo that was recorded with both Dave Mustaine and Cliff Burton.
It should also be noted that this demo is what inspired the name for this site.
Yes, I was there when this was a new release. I was in high school and my friends and I thought "Whiplash" was the coolest and fastest song on the face of the earth. Metallica fused the rapid-fire attack of bands like Motorhead and the riffing of Diamond Head with a guitar assault of British heavy metal bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Most Americans metal fans were unfamiliar with the majority of Motorhead at the time, no less the likes of Diamond Head, so Metallica's sounded fresh. Metallica's style here was reminiscent of Diamond Head's "Lightning to the Nations", with a slightly more punk attitude and frantic guitar delivery. Guitarist Dave Mustaine's writing style is all over this record. Of course, Dave was booted out of Metallica before the recording of this album and was replaced by Kirk Hammett of Exodus. Mustaine, who wrote four songs on this album, went on to form Megadeth, another successful speed metal band. "Kill 'Em All" was loads (no pun intended) of fun. It was the album that started it all for these pimply faced kids and helped to spark the thrash metal revolution that would soon spread throughout the globe. While Metallica were not neccessarily the first speed metal or thrash band, there is no doubt that this album set the standard for thrash and speed metal for years to come. Despite the fact that most Metallica fans will point to the bands next two albums as their best, "Kill 'Em All" still sounds good today and was a landmark metal release. In the years following this release, such important thrash debut albums as "Show No Mercy", "Fistful of Metal" and "Killing is My Business..." would surface helping to fuel an underground metal market hungry for something more aggressive.
"Kill 'Em All" was originally released on Megaforce Records but was since re-released several times by Elektra.
As if Metallica could top the masterpiece that was "Ride the Lightning" they release "Master of Puppets." To my amazement, they actually topped an album that I swore could never be topped. The songs are a bit more progressive and a bit longer. Every song blew me away. Over time this album hasn't grown old, with the exception of the instrumental "Orion". It's still one of my all time favorites. Anthrax used a small sound byte of the title cut for their rap-joke song "I'm the Man." One of the greatest heavy metal albums ever created. Also one of the most innovative metal albums ever.
In the fall of '86, while touring in Scandinavia with Anthrax, the band's tour bus skid off an icy patch of road and flipped over. Cliff Burton, the band's bassist, was thrown out and was crushed underneath the bus, killing him instantly. Metallica, and the world, lost one of the best bassists ever and a dear friend as well. The band soon went searching for a new bassist, and finally selected Jason Newsted of Flotsam & Jetsam, who was with them up through "S&M". They released an EP of covers called "Garage Days Re-Revisited,"to introduce Jason New-guy which I used to own on vinyl, but never felt the need to fork out the money for the ridiculously priced, out of print CD (Fortunately it's been re-released as Garage, Inc. see review below.)
1. "Helpless" (Diamond Head cover) (6:36)
2. "The Small Hour"s (Holocaust cover) (6:39)
3. "The Wait" (Killing Joke cover) (4:55)
4. "Crash Course in Brain Surgery" (Budgie cover) (3:10)
5. "Last Caress/Green Hell" (Misfits cover) (3:28)
An EP of cover songs to "break-in" new member Jason Newsted. This EP has been out of print for years, although all the tracks were re-released on the "Garage Inc." CD, listed below. Despite this, the "Garage Days" EP is still a collector's item and sells for a decent price on auction sites. My favorite of the five tracks is "Helpless", as I had become a big Diamond Head fan, thanks to the "Creeping Death/Garage Days" EP.
At this point Metallica were the Kings of Metal. (or was that Manowar?) "...and Justice for All" is heavy, epic length, progressive, and even melodic. Nobody would classify Metallica as a progressive metal band but this album was more progressive and more technical than most of what would be called "progressive metal." "...And Justice for All" is one of the all time greatest metal discs.
Six Feet Under recorded a cover of "The Frayed Ends Of Sanity".
As bootlegs go, this isn't a bad one. I've actually heard officially released discs that sound as bad. In any case, Metallica were at the top of their game here, so this is a nice live offering. I'm not sure if this is a complete show, but it seems pretty close to what I remember from this tour. "How Many More Times" is a portion of a Led Zeppelin song.
Metallica went more mainstream with this one, which meant they weren't on the cutting edge of heavy music any more. A lot of people complained. There was also a lot of controversy over hiring producer Bob Rock, who's known for turning metal bands, such as Motley Crue, into crappy pop-metal. Well, he did not succeed on this album because this is a great metal album in my opinion. Of course the populous at large caught on as well and this album sold over ten million copies. Favorite songs are "Sad But True," "Don't Tread on Me," "Wherever I May Roam" and the awesome "The Struggle Within." Least favorite song "The God that Failed."
Metallica-Live Sh*t: Binge & Purge (Elektra) 1993
I remember when this came out in '93. Metallica was all the rage and the original box set containing 3 CDs. and 3 VHS tapes sold over 600,000 copies, which is pretty amazing for an overpriced live album. Unfortunately for those of us who like the older Metallica material better, this is the only official live release from the band's pre-modern rock days. Despite having been such a fan, I never could see myself forking over $75-$80 for that box. I was psyched to hear that in 2002 the box would be reissued with DVDs in a "specially priced" set. Hmmm, specially priced? Suggested retail is around $65, which is about about $10-$15 cheaper than the original big box set, and that came with a huge full color book. Not really that much cheaper.
I have mixed emotions about this 2002 reissue I am certainly glad to finally have the complete Mexico City show on CD This has always been my main motivation for wanting this collection to begin with. I could care less about looking at pictures of the band, or about the 'scary-guy stencil' as it is their music that I care most about. (And if anyone does care, the complete original 72-page full-color book is included on DVD 2 and the stencil and backstage pass are also included in this set.) The three disc concert from Mexico City features Metallica at their finest on the stage. Having been a fan of Metallica since the "Kill 'Em All" days, I can remember a time when Metallica sounded simply awful live. As the band has toured over the years, they have become one tight live unit. This three disc set is a testimony to that fact. Metallica certainly are (were?) of one of heavy metal's finest bands. Every song is played with conviction and intensity and some songs, like "Creeping Death", actually sound better than the original studio recordings. There is plenty of Metalli-goofin' as well, as is pretty common at a Metallica concert. Metallica are know for playing bits of songs as teasers before going into a completely different song. On this disc there are several of these including an impromptu "Smoke on Water" intro before the band goes into "Am I Evil?". Unfortunately the expletives run throughout the three discs. James seriously needs to invest in a dictionary and learn another word to express himself since he can't even seem to form a sentence without uttering the same expletive numerous times. Other than that annoyance, the music contained herein is awesome. One top of this there are the two concerts on video. This repackaging puts the three VHS tapes onto two DVDs. The audio for these DVD concerts isn't any better than the original VHS release, but since VHS tapes suck to begin with, I am more than happy to have these on DVD. At least you don't have to worry about DVDs wearing out, getting corroded or becoming warped. In anycase, I am glad to finally have an original copy of this moment in heavy metal history.
Metallica - Load (Elektra) 1996
I had hopes held high that Metallica would release an album that would help resurrect heavy metal in the musically depressed mid-90's. At the time time grunge and alternative were ruling everything. After all, Metallica were the poster children for heavy metal! Their very name is metal! I went out the day the CD single became available and purchased it. The single had "Until it Sleeps" with the Motorhead cover "Overkill" asthe b-side. That along was pretty encouraging. However, when I popped that CD into the player, I was stunned. Let's just put it this way, my first reaction was, "Metallica has completely sold out to alternative." I was bummed. Bob Rock had now succeeded in destroying the Metallica of old. People were calling them Alternica. Well, at least the Motorhead cover was cool.
To tell the truth, I still went out and purchased the CD the day it was released. I still had hopes that the single wasn't indicative of the entire CD. Actually, it was. However, despite the fact that it's miles away from everything they had done before, "Load" is not terrible and I have grown to enjoy this one over time. It's a good hard rocker with some catchy songs and interesting ideas. It was also a mega-hit record for Metallia. The album shipped and sold over 500,000 copies it's first week of release. It eventually sold over five million copies in U.S. alone and generated four hit singles, thanks in part to some big video hits on MTV.
Metallica - Unplugged (CD-R. bootleg) 1997
1. "Nothing Else Matters"
Metallica unplugged sounds like an oxymoron to me. Still, the songs all seem to work well in an acoustic setting, with the possible exception of "Creeping Death." I'm not sure that this song couldn't work in an acoustic setting, but it doesn't on this disc. Perhaps the band was just goofing around to much on this track. Many of the tracks are hindered by the band's clowning around during the songs. Favorite song here is probably "Helpless" and the blues take on "Four Horsemen." The sound quality of this bootleg isn't bad, being taken from various FM broadcasts. According to the liner notes, track 1 was recorded at Virgin FM Studios, Longon 11/97, tracks 2-9 KSJO Studios, London 12/97, track 10 BBC Studios, London 11/97 and tracks 11-12, Bridge Benefit, Mountain View, CA. "Tuesdays Gone" from this bootleg also appears on "Garage Inc." Lots of guest stars on this disc including Corrosion of Conformity's Pepper Keenan, Lynyrd Skynrd guitarist Gary Rossington and Blue's Traveler's John Popper on harmonica.
Metallica - Reload (Elektra) 1997
1. "Fuel" (4:29)
"Load" has taken a lot of pot shots from reviews and longtime fans who are disappointed with the bands move away from speed metal and thrash. I must admit, I am one of those who was a bit disappointed when "Load" and "Reload" were released. However, I don't think this one is as bad as everyone has said it is. Ok, perhaps it's not "Master of Puppets Part II." So what! Why should anyone expect Metallica to record the same record over again. Metallica has always been about doing what they want and not what others want them to do. Perhaps they have grown into mega-rock-stars and perhaps they are no longer the innovators of heavy metal that they once were, but certainly this is far from a bad CD "Fuel" is a cool, fast paced, punk influenced song that reminds me of Motorhead. "Devil Dance" is a slow heavy dirge that is cool as well. "The Unforgiven II" is an excellent song that resurrects the more melodic style of the black album. "Better Than You" and "Carpe Diem Baby" are also quite good. The single from this album,"The Memory Remains," use to annoy the crap out of me, but I have grown to like it. (However, what's up with that lady's voice? Sounds like she smoked a carton of cigarettes a day for her whole life.) One of the nice things about having a web page like this is that I can go back and update reviews. My initial review of this disc was somewhat lukewarm. However, sometimes albums grow on you over time. Others may wear on you over time . In the case of "Reload" it has totally grown on me. Long live Metallica!
Metallica - Garage Inc. (Elektra) 1998
Well, this was cool, I didn't have to fork out the money for that expensive out-of-print "Garage Days Re-Revisited." It was also very cool that they included the Motorhead tunes they performed at Lemmy's birthday party. I never even knew Metallica covered Queen's "Stone Cold Crazy," but they do a decent version. As a matter of fact, disc 2 is a great collection. I could have done without the stupid Anti-Nowhere League song, "So What." The only purpose for that song is to be obnoxious, although the line "I sucked an old man's..." sounds pretty funny coming from Metallica. Disc 1 is not bad either, I especially dig the Thin Lizzy cover "Whiskey in the Jar." I know a lot of people hated the Bob Segar cover "Turn the Page," but I liked it. Was it an obvious attempt at getting a radio hit? Probably, so what! They did a good version. The Black Sabbath cover ("Sabbra Cadabra") is incredible. A total of four Diamond Head covers, a band who obviously influenced Metallica's early years. "Mercyful Fate" is a killer medley of Mercyful Fate songs. Oh yeah, almost forgot, the Skynyrd cover SUCKED!!!
Metallica - S&M (Elektra) 1999
I suppose that S&M is Metallica trying to be innovative once again, like they were with the progressive metal of "...And Justice for All" and the speed metal monster "Ride the Lightning." In April 1999, Metallica performed two concerts with the San Francisco Symphony orchestra, and the result was this two-disc collection The best tracks here are the older songs, not just because I personally like them better but because they have a compositional style that works well with the symphonic instruments. "Master of Puppets," "Call of the Ktulu," "One," and "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and even "Battery" sound richer and fuller with violin, trumpet, clarinet, harp, trombone, and flute accompaniments. Most of the black album material on just doesn't work as well. One exception to that rule is "Fuel," which is the best song off "Reload." This version actually works real well with the Symphony backing it up. I was a bit disappointed at the lack of "Kill 'Em All" material, as it would have been interesting to hear "The Four Horsemen" or "Whiplash" backed with the flutes and brass.
Metallica - St. Anger (Elektra) 2003
Metallica are a band that will evoke strong emotions and reactions, both positively and negatively, no matter what they do. Every metal chat room I know of had heated discussions before and after the release of this CD People were even fighting over what they thought of the CD artwork long before the CD was even released. For some reason it has become 'cool' to hate Metallica in metal circles. Despite this, these lucky Metalli-dudes just seem to always have a hype about them that equally talented bands like Anthrax somehow lost years ago, even though they are putting out music of equal, if not better caliber. Much of the hatred comes from that fact that Metallica refuse to stay predictable. However, no one should expect Metallica, or any other band for that matter, to recreate old albums. I mean, would anyone expect Black Sabbath to remake "Paranoid" or Judas Priest to write another "Sad Wings of Destiny" over and over again? If they did, we wouldn't have "Heaven & Hell" and "Painkiller", two of the greatest metal albums ever released. No doubt those bands put out some failures in between their successes. Of course Metallica will never make another "Ride the Lightning" or "Master of Puppets" no matter how much prerelease hype there is saying that the next album with be a 'return to their roots.' I mean it is two decades later. Unfortunately, if you always compare their newer music to their old albums, you will always be disappointed, especially if you, like me, hold those old albums in high esteem. Even the loss of someone as vital as Cliff Burton will effect their sound, which became apparent even in the first album after his death. However, I admit, I am a Metallica die-hard and have followed them since day one. I mean, I literally have been a fan since the day "Kill 'Em All" was released on Megaforce and in like manner I rushed out to buy this CD the week it was released as well. I didn't really believe all the hype anyhow, and didn't even bother checking out the first single ("St. Anger") that was being played on the radio the week this CD was released. I really just wanted to make up my own mind and check this disc out for myself. I really wanted to like this CD. However, after listening to "St. Anger" all the way through at least 7 or 8 times in a week, I have come to the conclusion that the band and their producer Bob Rock are on drugs. I mean, what were they thinking? "St. Anger" is just horrid. I said all that stuff in the opening paragraph to show, that I am not just comparing this disc to past discs nor am I a trendy Metallica hater. This CD is just not good. While it does have it's interesting moments, and I do like "Frantic" and "Sweet Amber", the production is horrible and the songs generally sound unfinished. The lack of guitar solos is very noticeable. There are parts of songs that are just screaming for a guitar solo. James Hetfield's vocals sound horrible in some parts, although in other parts I like the rougher, angrier approach and think this is the most honest vocal performance he has given since "Kill 'Em All". Hetfield's voice is dry, unproduced, cracking, missing hitting notes, sometimes straining and generally pretty angry sounding. In "Frantic" for instance, I really liked the somewhat raw, punkish way James sings "frantic, tick, tick, tick, tock" building the song in a "frantic" way. It was one of the most enjoyable moments on the album. The guitars, on the other hand, are another big problem. They have no crunch and due to the downtuning sound muddy. They are also buried under the drums at times. The worst part about the production, however, is that tin can snare that Lars bangs on through the entire thing. (Hey Lars, ever heard of Duct Tape?) In anycase, this really brought the album down for me. Even the songs I liked are infected with that rattly, noisy, ringing snare drum that really does sound like a tin pot or a garbage can lid. The title cut is absolutely destroyed by the drum sound. I do applaud and welcome the band's return to more dynamic, faster, and heavier style and certainly can appreciate that they wanted a more raw sound. "St. Anger" is certainly raw. However, it's also dirty, full of mistakes, flubs and sloppy moments, and is engineered and recorded to sound like someone just hung a microphone in the band's rehearsal room and let them jam. It's unfortunate that this album sounds worse than a cheap demo. I actually think the DVD, which actually was recorded live in the band's practice space, sounds better than the CD. Perhaps over time I will grow to like this disc better, but for now, I think this is their worst yet. Here is hoping for something better in the future. They are more than capable.
On a side note, It's unfortunate the Metallica now believe their own hype. I've never seen a band so willing to overlook their "contemporaries." Kirk's comments in Rolling Stone Magazine about how he thinks other bands will play heavier, faster music now because of them is laughable to anyone who knows anything at all about the metal scene. These guys are so far removed from a scene they helped create it's really hard to believe. Metal does not begin and end with Metallica. There continues to be a plethora of bands putting out stellar, heavy and fast music long since Metallica decided they were a radio-rock band. Of course, perhaps I have the wrong idea of who their contemporaries now are. Since the band are touring with crappy acts like Limp Bizkit , Linkin Park, the Deftones and Mudvayne in support of their new CD, it is quite obvious they don't even know what metal is anymore.
\ Metallica - Death Magnetic (Warner Bros.) 2008
Metallica seems to currently be the band that everyone loves to hate. The haters are going to hate anything new the band puts out no matter how good it might be. As such, beware of the reviews that basically state that this CD sucks, because it doesn't. In my case, I suppose I am somewhat of a die-hard fan, although not to the point of blind allegiance. However, despite the horrific "St. Anger" and all the rock star crap that has caused the band to be looked upon with scorn over the years by fans, I still ran out and picked up "Death Magnetic" the day it was released. Before the release date I avoided listening to any advance songs, other than "The Day that Never Comes" as the local radio station was promoting it pretty heavy and I couldn't get away from hearing it. Before even hearing the music I was quite happy to hear that Rick Rubin would be brought in to produce this CD. That alone gave me hope of a comeback of sorts. I didn't expect "Ride the Lightning Part II", but I did want to hear an album that sounded like the Metallica I knew and loved. Once I popped the CD into the player and cranked it up, I smiled knowing that Metallica delivered this time around.
I am sure it is not by accident that, in the last couple years, Metallica have revived a lot of their older material in their live set and almost completely removed tunes from their more recent studio albums. Performing those old songs may have inspired Metallica to return to a sound that is all theirs. No, the entire album is not a rehashing of "And Justice for All" or "Master of Puppets". However, the band has brought back elements from those albums without sounding like they tried to rehash old material. In other words, "Death Magnetic" sounds like Metallica, but still sounds like a new release. Some of the guitar playing reminds me of those early thrash metal releases. "The End of the Line" in particular has some rhythm playing that reminds me of Hetfield's trademark style on those early platters, even if the album as a whole isn't really thrash. The first single for the album, "The Day that Never Comes" could have been on an album that came between "Justice" and the self-titled "black" album. The song certainly has a commercial appeal, but also has some of the progressiveness that was so prominent on "Justice for All." Before even hearing the song, I wondered if "Unforgiven III" might be a mistake. I do feel it's probably one of the weaker songs on the album, but I still enjoyed it as well.
"Death Magnetic" also sees the return of some lead guitar work. This was sorely and noticeably missing on St. Anger. The band have also returned to writing longer songs and essentially ditching the traditional three to four minute radio format. For most fans this will be an instant attraction in and of itself. I don't personally mind the shorter songs. To me it's a matter of good songwriting. When a song is long just to be long, it's tends to sound uninspired and gets boring. With the material on "Death Magnetic" I would not say that the songwriting is better than the band's classic catalog, but I would say that at no point was I bored and wanting to skip songs. I quite enjoyed the CD from beginning to end and found myself going back for repeated listens many times in the first week of owning the CD.
On thing that many people will be looking for is an improved production over the abysmal garbage can drum sound of "St. Anger". Indeed, they have succeeded in releasing an album that sounds better than "St. Anger." Of course that's not really saying much since "St. Anger" was so horrid. What Metallica have achieved with "Death Magnetic" is attaining that raw, not overly polished sound, without sounding as if they recorded a bad demo on old boom box. The music sometimes sounds like it's peaking out even on my old cars stereo leading me to believe that the mastering is a bit on the loud side. At times my speakers sound like they were blown. A quick check on-line revealed that I was not the only one with this complaint. This is unfortunate, but does not make the CD completely unlistenable in my opinion. I have recordings from bands in the 80's that I enjoy with far, far worse recordings. It's just odd that a band with Metallica's backing, on a label like Warner Bros. that this would even be an issue.
I am quite pleased with "Death Magnetic". No, it's not their best. I seriously doubt that Metallica will ever be able to create an album that will be able to top fan favorites like "Master of Puppets" or "Ride the Lighting". Nostalgia is powerful and makes people remember things much better than they actually are. However, for what it is, a new Metallica album in 2008, "Death Magnetic" is a satisfying album. After 25 years together as a band, that is saying quite a bit.