I am a great believer that certain musical styles rise to prominence on the backs of social change or a social movement. There is a quote from Deena Weinstein who is a Professor at DePaul University in the Metal Evolution Thrash Episode that goes something like this;
“When Thrash started in the early eighties Thatcher and Reagan were in charge and we had a highly conservative very restrictive kind of society and if you’re a teenager especially a teenage male, yuck, you don’t want to live in a place where they are in charge. This made males feel like they had to fight against the system just to stay in place and that kind of aggression leads to a sense of wanting to be louder and faster.”
By 1988, Thrash Metal in Australia was becoming huge. There was a substantial underground movement of thrash bands or bands that dabbled in rock, thrash and traditional heavy metal and there was an audience for it. Suburban garages became jam rooms for a million wannabe thrash bands.
And then came Metallica to our shorelines for the “Justice” tour.
All of those suburban teens who had seen their parents deal with the Black Monday Wall Street crash purchased tickets.
All of those suburban teens from immigrant families that had seen their parents get dicked around and racially abused purchased tickets.
All of those suburban teens that had seen their parents get shafted from various long-term state governments that dealt in corruption purchased tickets.
All of those suburban teens that had seen their parents get fired from companies that dealt in corruption and bribery of politicians purchased tickets
All of those suburban teens who didn’t fit in to the new divide between the haves and the have-nots purchased tickets.
All of those suburban teens who had finished high school or dropped out and couldn’t hold down any jobs or get work, scrapped up enough cash to purchase tickets.
We even made the news. In our excitement to get into the venue, we broke down gates and fences. When the police came we resisted. So many misfits, that just wanted to fit in.
We all stood together with people wearing Venom, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, first two albums Motley Crue, Twisted Sister and Slayer tops. This was our moment and the “…And Justice For All” album with its lyrical themes of corruption and truth being sold to the highest bidder was the same shit that we faced or our parents had faced. We all related to the “injustice” themes throughout the album.
I have always debated with people who was the biggest band in the genre. I always saw it from an influential musical point of view and others saw it from a sales point of view. Metallica and Megadeth to me are the two bands that had their feet in so many genres. With each album they kept on crossing over into new markets. That is why to me, the Black album wasn’t outside of the norm for what the Metallica sound is.
In the doco, Sam Dunn (the interviewer) felt betrayed when Metallica came out with the “Black” album. He wasn’t alone in that view-point. A lot of my peers also felt betrayed at the album however I couldn’t understand their viewpoint.
Metallica always had more accessible shorter songs on every single album leading up to the “Black” album.
What about, “For Whom The Bells Toll”, “Escape” and “Trapped Under Ice” from the “Ride The Lightning” album.
What about, “Leper Messiah” (how good is that bass riff (RIP: CLIFF BURTON) over the E5 power chords from 0.33 to 0.55) and “The Thing That Should Not Be” from the “Master Of Puppets” album while the “…And Justice For All” album had the big one, “Harvester Of Sorrow.”
All of those songs are more or less at the same tempo that the “Black” album songs are at.
I for one am glad that Metallica had the balls to make the “Black” album instead of “And Justice For All Part Two”, which if you look closely at it, the Justice album was more or less, “Ride The Lightning Part III”.
Megadeth on the other hand, in between their drug addictions and overdoses created some definitive songs. All of the thrash fans that felt betrayed at the Black album liked “Peace Sells”. That is why their view points just didn’t make sense.
Yes people, the mighty Dave Mustaine was way ahead of his time. He gave Metallica that technicality and their sound in the early years and by 1986, he gave the Thrash movement a crossover hit song in “Peace Sells”. It was all over MTV.
And that is the reason why this sub-genre has survived and grown. The two biggest bands of the movement just kept on crossing over and those two biggest bands had two super influential songwriters in Dave Mustaine and James Hetfield. It’s hard to believe that once upon a time they were in the same band.
2 thoughts on “Thrash Metal”
Why did no one get pissed off then Anthrax made “I’m the man?” That was just a dumb song that made the band a lot of money. That single song pissed me off way more than anything Metallica did on the Black Album.
Yes “Nothing Else Matters” is a ballad but it was still a kick ass song. It took me 20 years to forgive Anthrax for that record. Worship Music is a great album but for me they sold themselves out, not Metallica.
Metallica were neutered on the Black album. The songs are weak in quality (hardly anything to do with the duration of the songs). Hetfield doesn’t even sing the same way. It could be argued that he never did sing till that point. But that’s what many including myself liked about his vocals earlier on. They no longer had their previous “attitude”. For me, the band were changed forever and lost their identity. They’ve never recovered in the artistic sense. I’d take Ride the Lightning Part 4 any day over anything done since the Black album and onwards…
Even back then, I suspected Bob Rock screwed with their heads. He got great results with Blue Murder (Mike Fraser was more present though) and Kingdom Come. Perhaps he was more suited to them. I feel that Bob’s strength is in sound engineering as opposed to being a producer (which was Metallica’s initial intention with him). He did help Sykes obtain his glorious tone on the Whitesnake 1987 album, so I give him kudos there.
In the end though, Metallica had every right to go in the direction they did, and I am thankful for those first four Metallica albums.