Posts Tagged ‘metallica’

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Top Ten – Metallica

Posted: August 5, 2015 by Maximum Mike in The Rocking Chair Blog
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jamesI’ve been thinking a lot about that age old question, that big one that keeps us up at night; will there ever be another band as big as Metallica? When I asked my friend that question, he asked me if I meant a band as famous with the crazy reputation and following or did I mean musically?
I think I mean musically. I’m still unsure because like I said, this is one of those questions that has been written about and will be written about for years to come.

The point of a Top Ten is to rank songs, to tell you which are the best and in this case, which are the best Metallica songs. In my opinion, I think it’s impossible to have a definitive ranking of anything through opinion. Your number 4 will be my 7 and you will despise my 9 and 10. The whole thing is kind of dumb. How do we truly choose the best? Each song has a different meaning to different people. Recently, Spin Magazine decided to rank every Metallica song ever which you can find right here. It’s a cool list and their top ten isn’t very surprising (except for number 5) because it feels generic. It has all the songs you would guess should be in a Metallica top ten… so what was the point? If anything, what we really got out of the whole ranking was a reminder of all the songs from 50-151. I mean the first song from before The Black Album to enter the list is #76.  There are tons of other Metallica songs which people aren’t very blown away by. That in itself is super interesting to me. They are so big but a lot of people don’t like a lot of their music. Especially Metal-heads. Oh my god is there a lot of hate for Metallica from Metal people as I’m sure you’ve heard that line “I don’t listen to anything after The Black Album. ” Metal-heads, the original hipsters.

The intro thus far is supposed to explain how my list differs from other lists around the internet and the unique perspective I’m trying to put into my Top Ten. Here’s is the thought process in connection to the “Will there be another Metallica?” question.(Here is my favorite answer to the question by someone smarter than me) If today’s Metal bands listened to Metallica and now are what they are, how can they ever be Metallica because Metallica didn’t listen to Metallica, they were influenced by other bands. Do you see what I mean, it’s a time travel paradox thing. Metallica became who it was because the right people listened to the right bands at the right time. Very few Metal-heads today listen to Southern Rock/Country and Punk and Classic Rock and Metal. Metallica did. Metallica never struck me as musical snobs, never. Upon writing that last sentence, I’m sure they have from time to time said something negative about one band or another but their covers,  their friends in other bands; Metallica loves music.

I love music too. Rock 4 Rookies has always been that festering compost heap of genres. I love Rock N Roll, always have and there is truth to the statement that Metallica rock! They Rock! They don’t metal, they rock. ROCK! When they were young, they were fast and angry and innovative and ready to fly on the wings of a Metal breeze but something changed with in them over the years. Instead of a slicing riff, we got pounding melody. Instead of drilling machines we got chrome covered in the dust of the American road. Metallica may have started out as a Metal band but it’s not where they wanted to be, they wanted to be Rock N Roll.

So with out further adu, here are my Top Ten most Rocking Metallica songs.

#10. Fade To Black (Ride The Lightning, 1984)

1984 was a young Metallica, fresh off their crazy Thrash debut of Kill Em All in 1983. They had just shocked America with speed tracks like Hit The Lights, Whiplash, and Seek and Destroy. People were blown away but Metallica’s love of Rock N Roll showed up in Fade To Black with that dark acoustic opening. Metallica were long associated with suicide and death because of this song but even deeper down, I they they wrote their first ballad because that’s just what Rock bands they loved did. (<-opinion)

#9. Hero Of The Day (Load, 1996)

Hero of The Day has one of the most beautiful intros to any Rock song. You wonder if Metallica have gone soft but Lars’ drums kick in and there is confusion, what is being done, what are Metallica going through that they write songs like this, Outlaw Torn, Mama Said, and Until It Sleeps. Some people argue that they were just capitalizing of Nothing Else Matters from the previous album, their big mainstream break through. What ever it was, Thrash was no even a glimmer in the eye of Metallica. Rock, soulful Rock was here.

#8. One (And Justice For All, 1988)

Screw you, this list doesn’t have to make sense. I’m making a list of the best Metallica songs from a Rockers perspective, and this song rocks! This anti-war ballad was Metallica’s for foray into the music video world. Amazingly, there is no one who hates this song. Some people originally hated the video but there are always some people who hate new stuff, they’re called snobs. Also, this from before The Black Album, they were still very “Thrash” but listen to that gorgeous intro, the heavy doesn’t start till 3:00 minutes into the song.  But when it does… awesome!

#7. The Memory Remains (Reload, 1997)

This is Strut Rock, a genre I invented. It can be related to any song you listen to when you want to feel sexy, while preparing for a night out with a new girl or if you’re a WWE wrestler and you want to walk with confidence to the ring. Lars’ ads a marching tempo, a soldier returned from battle showing off war wounds. The video itself lends to the attitude, the spin, the sunglasses. It’s not hard to see who Chad Kroeger tries to emulate. (Please don’t hold that against this song)

#6. Sad But True (Metallica(Black Album), 1991)

Still with long hair, no longer playing super-fast Thrash music, I would say this was the moment Metal was mainstreamed. You could argue that it was Nothing Else Matters that brought people to Metal but I’ll counter that and say Nothing Else Matters brought Metallica to the people, Sad But True brought the people to Metallica and Metal at large. Long Live Rock!

#5. Nothing Else Matters (Metallica(Black), 1991)

What is it about this song? Why is it so perfect? Is it the lyrics, the melody, his voice filled with determination? It inspires to take a stand with out saying what that stand is. It’s an anthem filling us with the need to fight against injustice of some form or another. Nothing Else Matters? What does matter in the end is that no matter what kind of music you like, you like this song.

#4. Turn The Page (Garage Inc., 1997)

“A song we wish we had written because we are the road dogs” If they had written Turn The Page it would have almost been too on the nose. I listen to this song and actually imagine it’s about Metallica, it’s how I seen them even though I know about their plane and Gucci and million and millions. I would love to know who chose which songs off the cover album Garage Inc. 

#3. All Nightmare Long (Death Magnetic, 2008)

Silly thing to point out but the guy who posted this song is Chopsuey### his picture is the RHCP logo and it’s a Metallica song. I’m going to make the empty statement that it’s because this music speaks to everyone. Death Magnetic was the last studio album by Metallica and it was meant to be a throw back to their heavier Thrash days… and it was!! It was heavy, fast and beautiful. This song is proof positive that Metallica still have what it takes. This is why I hate it when people say nothing after And Justice For All or The Black Album. Who wouldn’t wanted want to perform out this song live?

#2. Master Of Puppets (Master Of Puppets, 1986)

This song is pure Metal and it’s the best thing ever. In the 1980s, Metallica spent most of their time drunk or on drugs and it is by far their peak of creativity and energy. This is when they recruited the Metallica family and people would given their lives for this band. Sigh, to have been a little older when I was younger and I might have been able to see them in this highlight moment. This song is perfect.

#1. Fuel (Reload, 1997)

This song captures the essence of the perfect Rock song and has all the elements I love the most. I also know this is the main moment I pissed off the most of amount of people. (#sorrynotsorry ) I really can’t help it, this is my favorite Metallica song. I talk a lot about energy while doing The Rock 4 Rookies Podcast and this is the energy I’m talking about. It’s about chrome and steel and Hard Rock and pushing the limit and going fast for speed’s sake. This song gets me going when I am done, when I have nothing left to give, when I’m running on empty.. it gives me Fuel


Well, that’s my take on the best of Metallica and I know there were other songs you would have put on your list but honestly, you don’t need me to make your list, you need me to make mine. I do feel bad about missing some stuff so here are two more songs that must be mentioned.

Extra #1 – Enter Sandman (Metallica(Black Album), 1991)

This song is amazing, one of my absolute favorites and I love the audience having the opportunity to see Metallica for the first time.

Extra #2 Tuesday’s Gone (Garage Inc, 1997)

All the people in the song are amazing, and they all came together to salute Southern Rockers, Lynyrd Skynyrd. 

Oh no, not me. I have been here all along. Manning the decks of “Electronic Voyage” and bringing you the best in Electronic Music from across the decades. Who I want to welcome back is a band that has much to do with my early development as a Metalhead, and just reinstated themselves as an awesome force in music.
Of course I am speaking about Metallica. Before that however, let’s take a look back into the past of the music that made Heavy Metal popular, and then took it to new and unforeseen heights. Their debut in 1981, wow that seems so long ago, was a blistering (I think I am going to be using that word a lot) manic expression of force and naïve rage. Just listen to the opening riff from “Hit the Lights” the album tore open the seams of Rock, and left an entire era of bands trying to recapture the magic of that album while Metallica forged ahead one landmark album after another. What set the music apart from anything at the time is that while speedy and angry, the music was focused, the musicianship second to none, and the song structure unparalleled. Sometimes in the early Metallica recordings the best riffs come at the bridge of the second chorus, Look no further than the intricate noodling of “Whiplash,” and the deep crunch of “No Remorse.” What was perhaps so shocking about the debut is the maturities of the players, who were at the time, barely out of their teens.
Then everything changed. Well kind of. While the rest of the Heavy Metal community were trying to make their own “Kill Em All” Metallica transcended the form with “Ride the Lightning.” It was fast heavy and mean to be sure but there was something more. From the almost Baroque opening to “Fight Fire with Fire” here was a band transformed. On every track they seemed to try something new and succeed. Intertwined guitar solos, complex time signatures, and my favorite song of all the thudding greatness that is “For Whom the Bell Tolls” it was a second revolution for a band that was starting to sell out stadiums without Top 40 support. The question then became, could it be topped? The answer was yes.
“Master of Puppets” took everything the band learned about themselves and the world from the previous album and did not push the envelope so much as refine the idea. The album got noticed by critics outside of the scene and the album sold three million copies with no radio support at all. The songs were longer and more complex, but the aggression and speed remained constant. Here was a band amassing a stunning body of work, and rocketing to the top, doing things on their own terms and in their own way. The music moves up and down slowing at times and braking out at others. Not a note is misplaced, and the obsessive attention to every detail shows in the perfect way the songs are crafted, but this time they work even better as a cohesive unit.
Then everything changed. Cliff Burton, one of the greatest Heavy Metal bassists of all time, was killed when their bus flipped off the road in Sweden. The band grieved in the way they knew how, by falling into bottomless wells of alcohol. One binge drinking night ended with vocalist James Hetfield standing in the middle of the street screaming “Cliff…Cliff…Where are you?”
The band was not done. Not by a long shot. They regrouped, recruited Jason Newstead from Flotsam & Jetsam (an extremely underrated group) and went back into the studio. When they emerged, they had created “And Justice for All” the bleakest, most complex work of their catalogue. The only question mark on the record is the production. Jason Newstead’s bass is turned so far down as to be barely audible, and that makes the record sound tinny. I have always wondered how it would sound remastered. It still remains as my favorite of their albums.
Then they hit the mainstream. Producer Bob Rock helped them with “Metallica” their fifth album and one that has gone platinum ten times. He wanted the band to relax, loosen the reigns and start having fun. It worked. The record is great, but a much more downtempo affair then their previous releases. Then came “Load” and “Reload” and the band seemed to resemble little of the brilliant angsters of yore. Now they were a midtempo Hard Rock band at best. It was something that seemed destined to happen, because it often does with bands as they reach the downward spiral of their careers. I even think that “S&M” live with the San Fransisco Symphony was ill conceived. The music often existed in the same time but not the same dimension as each other. It was done with skill to be sure but it sounded forced and a little silly. “Garage Inc.” a collection of new and old covers was fun, but again it seemed like the band had run out of steam. For me what happened next proved that beyond a doubt.
Remember Napster? Remember Metallica taking them down? I don’t blame them because it is their right, it just seemed so corporate of a band that single handedly pulled themselves out of the underground by sheer force of will and talent. Watching Lars Ulrich testify before a Senate Grand Jury; look I love the band but I cannot help getting a little sick every time I hear him speak. Even now I am all pissy, and it is about to get worse.
Do not listen to anything you hear which trys to salvage “St. Anger.” It is garbage, pure and simple. Unfocused, and poorly produced it sounded like fifth graders in their garage. I know about the infighting, and the substance abuse. All of the drama. I know all the stories, they do not matter. What matters is that the album was a dismal representation of their skill and could very well have been the final step in the destruction of the band. Maybe in some respects it should have been. They could have taken a look at themselves and the inexcusable piece of …too much hate, I have to relax.
Because this is not a normal band. This is Metallica, and as soon as I heard Bob Rock was out and Rick Rubin was in as producer I was intrigued. Rick Rubin, was the guru of Trash in the 80s working for a long time with Slayer, and also creating Def Jam recordings with Russell Simmons. The guy knows his stuff, and his Metal. I was dare I say excited, but nervous, very nervous. Then Michael played me the first single off of the album. “The Day that Never comes” is ok, perfect for radio but just ok. It sounded a lot like Load or Reload, but I had definitely heard worse. The song was a little all over the place too. James Hetfield’s vocals border on Country, and the drums still had that damn tinnyness.
Then I got my hands on the album (never mind how) and listened. They are back. The heroes have done it again. The songs blister (yes that word again) at a rapid pace sounding like a nice Thrash throwback but with a definite feeling of the now, the moment at hand. The edge is back the crunch is back and while it cannot be “Master of Puppets” it is a refreshing return to form for a band that taught us how to rock then forgot how to do it themselves. The credit goes to the band yes, but also to Rick Rubin who showed the boys they still had it in them. “Death Magnetic” rocks plain and simple, and makes me happy to still be a fan of Metallica.