It’s my favourite song from the self-titled “Black” album and I just saw footage of Metallica playing it live on Jimmy Kimmel a few days ago.
It’s down-tuned a little bit, a sign of aging and how the voice needs those lower keys. It’s also sped up a little bit (yep they can still play a fast tempo song even faster) and it’s still as powerful.
On Spotify, it is at 52 million streams.
Basically forgotten and it pales compared to songs like “Enter Sandman” at 1.072 billion streams, “Nothing Else Matters” at 925 million streams, “The Unforgiven” at 428 million streams, “Sad But True” at 267 million streams and “Wherever I May Roam” at 167 million streams. It’s no surprise that the singles have a high listen rate.
Behind the singles, it’s song’s like “Holier Than Thou”, “The God That Failed” and “My Friend Of Misery” that make albums great. At one stage “Holier Than Thou” was going to be the lead single from the album, but Mr Ulrich had other ideas.
Most of the talk today is on the release of “72 Seasons”. As I type this, the new album is playing on Spotify.
But for Metallica to have the career they have had, it all comes back to the monumental “Black” album. It’s the Championship Ring, the one that gets you to do multiple victory laps.
A few years ago it celebrated 30 Years and as bands do these days, they celebrated the release with a special Anniversary edition.
And what I like about these Anniversary editions, is when bands add the demos. David Coverdale splices them together and calls them “Evolution” versions. Metallica gives you the warts and all, with mistakes and all that.
And I tracked the evolution of the song.
For the ones that have heard the “Holier Than You – From James’ Riffs Tapes” version on the Remastered Deluxe Box Set, you can hear the drum groove already established via James programming the drum machine.
And James is scatting vocally for the verses, but he had the Chorus hook. Short and sweet. Song writing 101 is to always start with the Chorus hook and work backwards.
The next version of the song is listed as the “August 13th Demo”. This time it’s just James and Lars and you get to hear that machine gun picking from James with Lars making the drumming a bit more tighter and refined.
And James has the vocal melody down, but not the words as he “Obi Wans” and “Yeahs” his way through the song, except for the Chorus. Because the hook is still there.
“No more the crap rolls out your mouth again”
What an opening line. I feel like this is about those TV Evangelists that ended up getting caught with their pants down, doing hookers and cocaine back in the late 80s and early 90s.
But these days, it could be about politicians and lobbyist who seem to push agendas that don’t benefit the people who voted them in, but those same agendas do benefit the corporations who funded their campaigns.
Even celebrities say or type words that get them into trouble. Social Media is the cesspool for this.
“You lie so much you believe yourself”
And iconic line and even more important now than ever before when lies are sold as truth and people surround themselves within echo chambers, unable to read critically nor able to analyse the data.
Differing opinions on facts is healthy for society but its unhealthy when opinions are formed without any basis of facts. Then again, if everyone saw everything the same, there would be no hate or division.
That section from 3.13.
It happens after the solo.
It’s just drums and bass. It’s brief but it definitely gets the foot tapping and the head moving. Then the guitars kick in and the song ends. I think at 3.47 it could be the shortest Metallica song. But one of their heaviest and leanest.
2 thoughts on “Holier Than Thou”
This is a great track. What a firecracker of an opening. These guys aren’t picking about. Drums sound like artillery blasts going off. lol
Awesome writeup Pete….
I’d play “Holier Than Thou” any day over “Nothing Else Matters”!