Music

While My Depression Gently Weeps – Part 1 of The Music My Savior Chronicles

I gave up smoking in 2010. My last cigarette was at Thessaloniki Airport, Greece in August, 2010. I had the last drag, coughed and gagged like I was choking and said with determination that I quit.

I haven’t had a smoke since then. You see back in November 2008, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. For a 32 year old, this came as a big surprise. When I went into the doctors surgery complaining of migraines, my blood pressure was 170/120. This was on a Tuesday and the doctor said to come back on a Friday to see if it was just an off-spike. So what did I do after hearing this news.

I started drinking straight whiskey, three shots a day, believing that whiskey will ease the pressure readings. I walk into the Doctor’s office on Friday and proceed to sit down while the doctor puts the arm band on, presses start on the machine and I am confident that all will be well.

210/130. The Doctor’s eyes popped out of his head. He wrote referreals for echograms, cardio tests and blood tests for blockages, along with scripts for blood pressure meds. He asked me if I was a smoker and I said yes. He said to me to STOP immediately if I want to watch my kids grow up. He asked me to lose weight and to start taking the medication and to come back on Monday morning.

So of course, I started taking the medication however I didn’t stop smoking. On Monday, my blood pressure was at 150/110. Another type of tablet was added to my dose that involved two tablets in the morning and one at night. I went back on Friday and it was all better. 140/90.

I was still smoking and every month when I went for a check up the blood pressure was still up but “controlled” in my own twisted way. I was spending $90 on Blood Pressure medication a month, along with a $200 smoking habit. The good deeds of the medication was getting undone by the smoking habit.

It wasn’t until 2010 that I started coughing and gagging every time I had a smoke and eventually that year I stopped smoking. Apart from the blood pressure problem, I was in between houses, selling one house and building another house, while the Global Financial Crisis was happening all around me. On top of that, one of my boys was hospitalised on two occasions for urinary tract infections and had to undergo two procedures. I swear I couldn’t see the light at the end of this journey. To top it all off the band I created was splintering and I had so much money invested in it, I couldn’t walk away from it without the guys paying me back. So during this period 2008 to 2010, I started listening to music with sad and depressing lyrics.

Breaking Benjamin entered my life around this time. The “Phobia” and “Dear Agony” albums got played constantly.

Machine Head’s “Descend The Shades Of Night”, “Goodbye To Romance” from the Blizzard Of Ozz band (yep, every time I refer to the Randy Rhoads era it will be via the name Blizzard Of Ozz) and Megadeth’s “A Tout Le Monde” came back in my life.

And as depressing as some of the songs are they helped me through my own depressive period.

The reason why I started thinking about smoking is because I was at a party on the weekend and everyone smoked, making it very difficult to interact with the people.

20. Give Me A Sign

It is from the album “Dear Agony” by Breaking Benjamin released in 2009. On YouTube it has 7,088,460 views and on Spotify it has 1,229,610 plays. The song is a superstar in the modern metal and rock circles.

Daylight dies
Blackout the sky
Does anyone care?
Is anybody there?
Take this life
Empty inside
I’m already dead
I’ll rise to fall again

Benjamin Burnley sings the above over a slow haunting riff about losing his way and screaming for help, looking for the sign. My advice to myself from listening to this song is that “when it comes to the end, you have to let go”.

19. Break Away

It is from the album “The Illusion Of Progress” by Staind released in 2008. One YouTube channel has the song up to stream and it has been viewed 382,520 times.

Like a wheel
That keeps turning
If I could break away
From this moment
Break away
What is real
Break away
Never showing
Break away
How I feel
If I could break away

Apathy
The ignorance it brings
The tragedy
Of all these things
We keep repeating

I felt like the song was about me when I heard it in 2008. It is about repeating the same actions everyday, looking for a change and not having the guts to make it happen, believing that some deity in the sky will do it all for me.

My advice to myself from listening to this song is that it was time to make the change and break away. By the end of 2010, the band was over (at a large financial loss to me), the house was finished and I had quit smoking. I made the change/s.

18. What A Shame

It is from the album “The Sound Of Madness” by Shinedown released in 2008. On YouTube, 4 channels have it up with a combined view count over 2.5 million.

Two packs of cigarettes a day
The strongest whiskey
Kentucky can make
That’s a recipe to put a vagabond
On his hands and knees

When I heard the opening verse, I said to myself, damn, that is me. That is exactly what I am doing. Brent Smith nails the emotion in this song. It is about his uncle and a beautiful song. So many of us are judged from everyone around us. It is wrong. Even I do it. Sometimes we all need some help and what we get is criticism instead.

My advice to myself from listening to this song is the chorus line; “What a shame, to judge a life that you can’t change.”

17. Broken Bones

“The Rev Theory” is a very underrated hard rock band. “Broken Bones” is from their 2008 release “Light Me Up.”

Caught in the confines of the simple life
And I am
Holding my head high in the rising tide
And I can’t win
And I can’t fight
I keep holding on too tight
Running away from the world outside

It’s the denial principle within us all. We run away from the problems we are facing by putting on a smile when all we want to do is cry. And when we have problems, the person that we need the most isn’t there to help or is there and doesn’t understand what the hell is going on, which is a shame.

I’m not coming home now
I know
I’m so far away
So far from home
I’m not coming home now
I know
I’m so far away
I’m so far away

This part is emotional. I know that the song is about a band member that they lost along the way, however when i was in hospital with a shattered foot waiting surgery to reconstruct it, this song got me through the days. Coming into 2010, I was in a dark place that I didn’t think I would survive to see the end of the year. “Broken Bones” helped me through it.

My advice to myself from listening to this song is that I needed to get back home and realise that everything that loves me and everything that I love is right in front of me. Like the Three Doors Down song “Heaven” released in 2011 on the “Time Of My Life” album, “I didn’t have to let myself get so far gone, I didn’t have to make the ones I love feel so alone, I didn’t have to die to go to heaven, i Just had to go home.”

16. Let Me Be Myself

Three Doors Down nailed what I was feeling in this song. It was released in 2008, on their self-titled debut. To me it is all about doing what society and my family wants me to do, instead of doing what I want to do. You only get one chance at life, so why waste it living someone else’s life.

I guess I just got lost
Being someone else.
I tried to kill the pain,
But nothing ever helped.
I left myself behind,
Somewhere along the way
Hoping to come back around
To find myself someday

Life has its highs and lows, however I made the choices that got me in these situations. So when I made the choice to get married, the part of the word “me”, I should have left behind and focused on the word “we”. However for years, I focused on the ME and the I. Even after I had kids. Listening to this song when it came out, I said to myself, damn, this song nails my feelings.

Then listening to it at the end of 2010, my view was different. When the lyric states “I guess I just got lost being someone else”, I saw that as me being lost on how to be a dad, thinking I had to do things in a certain way because hey, everyone is a judge in life.

15. Alias

Released in 2009 by In Flames on the “A Sense Of Purpose” album.

Don’t tell me,
Tell my ghost,
Cause I blame him
For all I don’t want to know

In Flames are a great band. I love this song and the title and the Freudian lyrics.

We all keep the real part of us hidden. That is why we are able to adapt to different situations. The ghost is the face that the people all see. It is the mask that we all wear to keep ourselves protected from the truth.

Life’s wrapped in a riddle,
Easier said than done,
Hate to play the victim,
Rather run and hide.

It was time that I acknowledged that I was in fact my own victim. Only I could make the decision to change.

14. Wake Up

Story Of The Year are very underrated in the metal community. From the outset the band got labelled as Emo. However, to me I always saw them as a metal band. It took an album about “The Black Swan Theory”, released in 2008 that got my hooked.

So what is “The Black Swan Theory”. It is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight;

Wake up!
To the sound of this time bomb
Wake up!
To it’s deafening song
Wake up!
Cause you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone
Until it’s gone

With all the chaos in my life at that point in time, this song made me feel alive, calm and confident. It was like it understood me. The message was simple. Wake Up.

13. That Was Just Your Life

Call it the “Enter Sandman” riff backwards. Call the harmony guitars at about the 5.50 minute mark Thin Lizzy rip offs. Call it that they plagiarised “Jump In The Fire”. Call it a great song, to open up the “Death Magnetic”.

“Like a release from a prison that i didn’t know i was in”

What a brilliant lyric. That is what music is on the days where the blues kick in. A release from the prison we are in.

“I blind my eyes and try and force it all into place,
I stitch them up, see not my fall from grace.
I blind my eyes, I hide and feel it passing me by
I open just in time to say goodbye.”

Denial and acceptance of what I believe the version of the truth is. You can easily combine verses from so many different songs and come up with a new Buddhist mantra that is a hundred pages long.

12. The Forgotten

The last album of the Howard Jones Killswitch Engage era released in 2009 and what an album it is.

What have you given up will never return again
Now you’re dead inside I hope it was worth the cost

This is like looking in the mirror at your own reflection and asking yourself “was it worth it”. Sometimes it is better to be the forgotten.

11. The Unforgiven III

Set sail to sea, but pulled off course

A welcome return from Metallica. By 2009, I thought I was doing what I wanted to do and that I was going out to be the best that I could be in my own way, however, I started to see that I was getting side-tracked, following paths that I never should have walked on. By the end of 2009, I was frustrated and I got even more frustrated when I realised that the position I was in, was all of my doing. There was no one to blame except me.

These days drift on inside a fog
It’s thick and suffocating
This seeking life outside its hell
Inside intoxicating

Alcohol and tobacco. It’s easy to numb the feelings when you are intoxicated. The funny thing is that even the songs mentioned deal with dark subject matters, I saw a sense of hope in them and when Robb Flynn screamed “Music My Savior – Save Me” in “Darkness Within” two years later, I knew exactly what he meant.

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The Gremlin Day, Generic Metal & Protest The Hero’s “Underbite”

You ever had a gremlin day. I have. You know one of those days when conventional wisdom falls over. One of those days when things that always worked ceased working the same as they always have for no real reason.

It makes you question everything. It makes you feel paranoid and you start to believe that everything you have done up until that point is rubbish.

From my perspective, I work in IT and I have been working on a project since August. We implemented successfully over the weekend, however on Thursday before the weekend implementation I questioned everything and I was about to pull the plug on it.

This is what normally begins to happen when you spend so much time on the one piece of work. This is why Top 40 sounds so bland and processed. Using I.T. speak “the Top 40 has been tested to death.”

The songs go through so many rewrites it’s not funny. That is why you have as many names as “The Last Supper” listed as songwriters of the generic and lifeless Top 40.

However Heavy Metal and Hard Rock music is generally written “in-house”, meaning that most of the material is written within the band. So why are we getting a similar generic output as the Top 40. Why are we getting lifeless and soulless songs that mean nothing and say nothing and to be honest if I heard them live I would probably yawn. The artists that created something great always lived on the edges, merging various influences and styles. However, when one artist sees another artist strike a pot of gold, they follow suit, believing that the same pot of gold would come to them if they replicated what the other artist did.

For example, every band wanted to be like Bon Jovi in 1987 and by 1988 every band wanted to be like Guns N Roses and by 1989 every band wanted to be sober like Motley Crue and by 1991 every band wanted to be Metallica and by 1992 every band started to incorporate grunge influences.

I started thinking about the above, after listening to the song “Underbite” from Protest The Hero and after watching the hilarious puppet clip. The Protest The Hero channel is showing that the clip has had 112,436 views. Not bad for a fan funded band that was told by their record label that are washed up.

Underbite means the projection of the lower teeth beyond the upper teeth. Protest The Hero have taken that term and twisted it up to include the rock n roll show. They are focusing on the generic mediocrity of artists who go out there and fake it. They are focusing on artists and labels that couldn’t care less about the fan experience. They are focusing on artists and labels that care about maintaining the status quo and the profits that came with that.

Jon Bon Jovi is one such artist that comes to mind. Eventually the shows sell out on this tour however for the first time ever, Bon Jovi concert tickets got the reduced treatment on Living Social and other web outlets. If he tours again next year and charges the same high prices, he will be in for a shock.

The Rolling Stones is another.

Motley Crue have gone back to the same marketplace again and again since 2008’s “Saints Of Los Angeles” and with each re-iteration they are getting less and less to the show.

Metallica needs new music to come out. It has been a 5 year victory lap for Death Magnetic and with 2014 approaching, that will make it 6 years.

Black Sabbath is another. Watching Ozzy sing live was a joke and he had the balls to say in interviews that Bill Ward couldn’t perform live because he was old, overweight and he had to use post it notes to remember his drum tracks. Well Ozzy is old, out of key and he never strayed too far from the prompts as he struggled to remember the lyrics.

The song Underbite also focuses on artists who see themselves as gods and their fans as stupid kids who are expected to consume every piece of music they produce regardless if it’s good or not. It has lyrics like “An understanding between you and I that the ground that you stand on is somehow less than mine” and “Now you comprehend our complex relationship—consumer/consumed, You’re just some stupid kid and I’m a megalomaniac.”

The part in the film clip where the fan goes to purchase the merchandise is so spot on. I could relate as it happens to me all the time.

First, the merchandise stand rarely has the size that a person wants. Good luck to all the ones that rush in and get it early and bad luck to the fans who get their later or the fans who just want to purchase merchandise later.

Then the prices are ridiculous. So as the clip shows, you end up forking out a decent amount of cash for a band t-shirt that doesn’t fit or is too large.

I really like the lyrics about “You’re disgracing your effort by conforming to textbook performance of music to fill in the gaps.” This is about going through the same motions and the same dialogue and the same songs day in and day out.

“Let’s not repackage the same old performance, Original content is so much more rewarding.”

While I love Twisted Sister, I don’t agree with the viewpoints put out by them, that there is no need for them to create new music. Dee Snider has mentioned that there is no motivation to write any new songs while Jay Jay French and Mark Mendoza have talked about giving the fans what they want in the live show and how if a new song is played these days from the classic rock bands, the fans see it as a toilet break. While each performance is unique due to Dee Snider’s banter, the songs however don’t stray too far from the first three albums era.

How many times can Iron Maiden revisit their past and repackage past tours as current ones. “Caught Somewhere Back In Time” and “Maiden England” are two that come to mind in the last 4 years. While the “Caught Somewhere Back In Time” tour broke box office records, the “Maiden England” tour not so much.

Their show at the San Manuel Amphitheater, Devore, California on September 13, Iron Maiden got 27,000 fans in a venue that fits 41,000. Megadeth, Anthrax, Testament and Sabaton also appeared on the bill. Of course 27,000 is a massive attendance however the venue is just over 50% full. Iron Maiden needs new content and great content at that.

Listen to the song. There are some hard truths in there and Protest The Hero try to cover them all.

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One Thing Cannot Be Disputed; Those Artists Who “Steal, Copy, Imitate” Are The Most Successful

So you are one of those artists that has a song or a few songs in the list of 4 million that haven’t been streamed yet on Spotify.

Then you hear a song that sounds very similar to your song.

Do you scream “theft” and lawyer up, preparing for a court case that you don’t have the funds for?
Do you just shrug your shoulders and move on?
Do you send the artist an email and ask him to acknowledge you as a songwriter to their song?
Do you use the fame of the current song to bring attention to your song?

I am sure in 90% of the cases, everyone will do the first part. Everyone will scream theft and then they will start a long and expensive court process. If the publisher controls the copyright, then this will happen 100% of the time.

Since the Copyright industries have grown into Corporate monoliths, it is suddenly uncool for an artist to use previous works as influences for further works. Even the audience of certain bands weigh in on the argument, calling certain bands rip offs and so forth.

However, one thing cannot be disputed, those artists who “steal” are the most successful. Those who “imitate” are the most successful. Those who “copy” are the most successful.

Led Zeppelin built a career on copying blues and folk standards.

Metallica built their career by copying their NWOBM influences and many others.

Oasis built a career on copying from “The Beatles”.

The Beatles built a career on copying from blues and rock standards.

Coldplay has built a career on the “progress is derivative” model.

Bon Jovi has built a career on re-writing their hits. Seriously, if you look at their catalogue, “Living On A Prayer” has been rewritten for every album that came after “Slippery When Wet.” New Jersey had “Born To Be My Baby”. Keep The Faith had the title track. Crush had “It’s My Life”.

In the rock and metal worlds let’s look at the songs burning up the rock charts.

Five Finger Death Punch – “Lift Me Up” has a vocal melody in the verses similar to “The Ultimate Sin” from Ozzy Osbourne. A lot of people call it theft, I call it influence. Imitation is a form of flattery. The song is getting the plays. People are paying attention and that is what artists want.

It is not about sales anymore, it is about listening. Are people listening to your music?

Avenged Sevenfold – the whole “Hail To The King” album copies from other artists who of course copied from other artists for their own music. Again, a lot of people call it theft, I call it influence. Imitation is a form of flattery.

Megadeth paid homage to Black Sabbath’s, “Children of the Grave” in their new song “Kingmaker”.

Alter Bridge also paid homage to Black Sabbath’s “Children Of The Grave” and Ozzy Osbourne’s “Revelation Mother Earth” in the solo section of their song “Fortress”.

Continuing on with Alter Bridge, the song “The Uninvited” has a strong resemblance to Tool’s “Schism”. Do these odes to their influences make them unoriginal? No chance. The “Fortress” album is a great showpiece in technical riffage and great melodies.

Airbourne is making a career referencing AC/DC.

Motley Crue borrowed from Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen” and Stevie Wright’s “Eve” for their song “Sex”.

Black Sabbath copied from their own past to create ’13’. “The End Of The Beginning” is basically the song “Black Sabbath” re-written again in 2012

Call it the Rick Rubin effect. He even convinced Metallica to rewrite their earlier albums for 2008’s “Death Magnetic.”

Dream Theater even borrowed from the Rick Rubin effect. They got some flack on “A Dramatic Turn Of Events”, as the songs followed a similar structure to songs from “Images and Words”. Dream Theater did do a great job at masking it, as the songs do come across as independent “stand on their own” compositions, however the hard core fans will pick up the references to their earlier material.

The next time a person is creating their little masterpiece and it sounds like something that is known before, don’t abandon it. Chances are it will connect with millions.

It is a shame that we have a generation of people that have grown up with a belief that music is created in a vacuum and they decide that legal threats is the best way forward. When Balance Sheets are affected, these industries will do anything to hold on or maintain their profits.

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Metallica – The Years Roll On

I finally watched the Metallica Death Magnetic DVD on the making of the album. For those that don’t know, it came with the Coffin Edition of the album. What can I say? After I watched it, I re-watched it. It has given me a new appreciation for the Death Magnetic album. The doco basically gave me an insight into the process that I could relate with, and since then the Death Magnetic album has been doing the rounds in my ear phones on a daily basis.

Sort of like how I listened to music in the Eighties and Nineties, when all you had was that one album for about six months, until some other album came out that you could afford and it then became the flavour of the month or months.

One To Rule Them All

James Hetfield still rules the roost. As much as the documentary tried to paint Lars as this hands on kind of guy, if James didn’t agree or say yes, the musical idea wouldn’t be part of the song. The documentary covers each song from Death Magnetic and in each segment, there is footage where James and Lars, along with the Engineer are in a control room that has an orange rendered wall and James just sits in the middle like the DON. Bob Rock once said that the problem with St Anger was that the main songwriter wasn’t there mentally. You can see that he is back for Death Magnetic.

Death Magnetic is the album Metallica needed to have. It is a return to the core. Remember progress is derivative. Like how Aerosmith had Permanent Vacation as the launching pad for Pump and Get A Grip.

Song Writing Process

Another thing from the documentary that connected with me was the whole song writing process, referring to jam tapes/CD’s, trying to get ideas down, writing in the studio and it is something I could relate too. The whole whiteboard that was shown behind Lars went he was on the drum kit at Metallica HQ is what I used to do to write songs with a previous band, and we would write on the whiteboard, things like Intro – Tool riff, Verse – Metallica riff, Pre – Limp Bizkit riff, Chorus – Spineshank riff, Lead – Ozzy riff so that we knew our queues. In the doco, it mentions titles like Sad, Creeping, Lightning on the whiteboard, obviously a reference to the riffs that where inspired or had a feeling similar to those songs.

Feeling

Metallica had a vision as to how they wanted Death Magnetic to sound and feel. Every day was a writing day. Every day was a creating day. When they thought they were finished, they went away and wrote some more.

They got feedback and re-visited the early creations to see if they are still feeling it. If they were not feeling it, they would write down what they liked about the song and what could be better. If they are feeling it, then they have achieved what they set out to do.

One thing that Imagine Dragons was clear on when they started was their vision. They wanted to rock. They wanted to play acoustically and they wanted to experiment in electronic sounds. The wanted a big drum and bass sound. They wrote down five albums that were their all-time favourites and studied those albums and learn those albums. Albums that included artists as diverse as Arcade Fire, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Harry Nilsson, 2Pac, Paul Simon and Muse.

The Years Roll On

When Metallica released Death Magnetic, they went on a two year victory lap touring behind the album. They released DVD’s from the shows, for the French and Latin America markets. They released live EP’s for certain markets. In Australia we got the Six Feet Down Under EP’s part 1 and 2.

When that died down, they orchestrated the Big 4 shows. They then orchestrated the Orion festival. They played the summer festivals around the world.

They celebrated their 30 years anniversary with a week of shows in San Francisco. They released the Beyond Magnetic EP, which had 4 songs that didn’t make the final cut on Death Magnetic.

They then released Quebec Magnetic. They are doing the Through The Never movie.

Does anyone remember the debacle of Lulu now? It’s old news, history. It’s like it never existed. What a difference two years makes?

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James Hetfield – Semi Obscure Metallica Songs – What Do You Mean I Don’t Write Good Lyrics

Metallica have done a lot of work to try and restore their battered image since the Metallica vs. Napster debacle circa 1999/2000. While people see this court case as Metallica taking up arms against their fans and innovation, I saw it as a case where Metallica tried unsuccessfully to get back control as to how their music is distributed and consumed. In the end, the whole debacle was handled poorly by Lars Ulrich.

So in 2003, they started Metallicavault.com, an online site, controlled by the band. It could be accessed by purchasing the terrible St Anger CD. Each CD came with a unique code. The band had live mp3’s and videos available for fans to download. It was nothing spectacular and the promise that more content would be uploaded weekly never came to be.

In 2006, Metallica joined iTunes and finally made their music available digitally in a legal sense. Prior to that, to get Metallica mp3’s you had to either rip your own CD or download illegally. This was done on their own terms and on a separate payment arrangement than other artists. At first it was just in the US and Canada as their overseas label wanted a bigger slice of the pie than they deserved. They basically controlled the negotiations as iTunes wanted them.

Then in 2008 they launched Mission : Metallica. The band advertised that any users that signed up to the Platinum package, will be allowed to download live shows, the new album (plus a physical copy of it), along with the normal membership of watching (heavily edited) footage of the band in the studio. Again this was all controlled by the band.

In 2012, they finally joined Spotify and the streaming revolution, again under their own terms and rules.

Anyway, the reason for this post is to highlight some Metallica tracks that could be classed as obscure.

Leper Messiah

It’s written by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich. It’s worth noting that Dave Mustaine claimed he wrote the song’s main riff and was not given credit by Metallica.

For all of those haters that said Metallica had sold out with the black album obviously didn’t know that Metallica had similar style songs on their earlier albums. Leper Messiah from the Master of Puppets album is one of those songs.

The best part comes in around the 30 second mark. Cliff’s trademark bass lines just rumble along while James lays down staccato power chords.

The messiah refers the ministers or evangelists and the lepers refers to the lowly people who give their money believing whatever they are told.

Send me money, send me green
Heaven you will meet
Make a contribution
And you’ll get a better seat
Bow to leper messiah

Phantom Lord

It’s written by Dave Mustaine, James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich and it was released on Kill Em All. Mustaine even used the Phantom Lord progression from about 2.30 to 3.10 in the Megadeth song, This Is My Life from the Countdown To Extinction album.

Overall the song is very influenced by Ace of Spades from Motörhead.

Hear the cry of war
Louder than before
With his sword in hand
To control the land

When metal music came out screaming in the Eighties, every band had a song about the movement. Twisted Sister called it Rock N Roll whereas Metallica called it Metal. The sword in hand is the instrument of choice.

Escape

Kirk Hammet gets a credit on this song on top of the usual Hetfield / Ulrich combination.

That intro. It’s brilliant. The song is more rock than metal. Like Leper Messiah, this song would not be out of place on the Black Album and it was released on Ride The Lightning. Lars wanted a more commercial sounding song.

The song is about escaping from the prison that is someone else’s reality for you. You can call it another anthem for living the way you want to. It’s the first of a string of songs that references James childhood. The prison mentioned is his home.

Rape my mind and destroy my feelings
Don’t tell me what to do

Take note of a theme in this song that will appear again on later Metallica albums.

Feed my brain with your so called standards
Who says that I ain’t right

This theme of control and manipulation will come up again in Dyers Eve and The Unforgiven.

Dyers Eve

It’s written by Hetfield, Ulrich and Hammett and it closes the ..And Justice For All album.

The song lyrics are one of struggle. In this case, James is struggling against the efforts of the ones who want to control him. The theme was used again for The Unforgiven.

“Pushed onto Me What’s Wrong or Right” can be replaced by “They dedicate their lives to running all of his.”
“Hidden from this Thing That They Call Life” can be replaced by “With time the child draws in, this whipping boy done wrong.”
“Always Censoring My Every Move” can be replaced by “Deprived of all his thoughts.”
“Cannot Face the Fact I Think for Me” can be replaced by “What I’ve felt, what I’ve known, never shined through in what I’ve shown.”
“Clipped My Wings Before I Learnt to Fly” can be replaced by “New blood joins this earth and quickly he’s subdued.”

The Unforgiven III

The Unforgiven from the Black album set a new standard for the modern power ballad. It has been imitated by a thousand bands. Even Metallica referenced themselves with The Unforgiven II, however The Unforgiven III was unique and powerful enough to grab my attention. From all the other songs on Death Magnetic, you can say that The Unforgiven III has slipped into obscurity.

The piano intro that references Ennio Morricone sets the sadness and it is a different take to the acoustic intro of The Unforgiven (which borrowed from Ennio Morricone as well).

These days drift on inside a fog
Its thick and suffocating
This seeking life outside is hell
Inside intoxicating

James is documenting his battles with alcohol.

How can I blame you when it’s me I can’t forgive?

Reflection and hindsight. How can a person learn forgiveness if they cannot forgive themselves?

Holier Than Thou

It’s a Hetfield, Ulrich composition. It was supposed to be the leadoff single to the Black album, however Lars had different ideas.

It’s not who you are it’s who you know
Others lives are the basis of your own
Burn your bridges build them back with wealth
Judge not lest ye be judged yourself

The theme continues on from the corrupted justice themes of money buys immunity from persecution. Just like Leper Messiah and Escape would not be out of place on the Black album, Holier Than Thou would not be out of place on any of the earlier Metallica albums.

The God That Failed

The most saddest song on the Black Album is also the most grooviest. The God That Failed deals with Hetfield’s mother’s death from cancer and her Christian Science beliefs which kept her from seeking medical treatment. It’s another Hetfield/Ulrich composition, however I am sure this one is all Hetfield.

I see faith in your eyes
Never you hear the discouraging lies
I hear faith in your cries
Broken is the promise betrayal
The healing hand held back by the deepened nail
Follow the god that failed

Prince Charming

Prince Charming is written by Heltfield and Ulrich and it appeared on the Reload album. It is on this list for a few reasons. The most important one for me, is that James Hetfield breaks out his Ride The Lightning era voice in the verses. That melodic Ride The Lightning bark comes in at 1.13 to 1.23 (lyrics below). It continues during the Chorus and then appears again at 2.13 to 2.23 (lyrics below).

I’m the suit and tie that bleeds the street and still wants more
I’m the 45 that’s in your mouth in a dirty Texan whore

I’m a nothing face that plants the bomb and strolls away
I’m the one who doesn’t look quite right as children play

The song structure of Prince Charming is no different to the Kill Em All song structures. It’s based on the NWOBM style. The only difference is that the tempo is slower and the drumming is more rock driven then metal driven. Otherwise, you add those two elements to Prince Charming and you have a song that would not be out of place on Kill Em All.

The Outlaw Torn

Its written by Hetfield and Ulrich.

This song is heavy as hell. The F to E intro groove is super heavy (pay special attention to when Newsted does it during the solo breaks – it’s the swampy delta blues clashing with a heavy groove) and when the Sabbath Bloody Sabbath riff kicks in at the 30 second mark, it makes me feel like I want to break stuff.

Hear me
And if I close my mind in fear
Please pry it open
See me
And if my face becomes sincere
Beware
Hold me
And when I start to come undone
Stitch me together
Save me
And when you see me strut
Remind me of what left this outlaw torn

Don’t Tread On Me

With all the other classic songs on the Black album, this is just another song that was easily overlooked. This is classic Metallica, in the vein of For Whom The Bells Toll and The Thing That Should Not Be.

Liberty or death, what we so proudly hail
Once you provoke her, rattling of her tail
Never begins it, never, but once engaged..
Never surrenders, showing the fangs of rage

I like the lyrics, democracy never begins war, but once you engage it, prepare for its wrath. James said that after putting down the U.S for so long, he wanted to write a positive song for America, sort of a “no place like home.”

To secure peace is to prepare for war

It’s doublethink like the classic 1984 novel.

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