It could be seen as a gimmick to mimic hard rock and heavy metal songs on cellos.
But it’s no gimmick.
Because what you hear are technical players playing the the vocal melody, the guitar leads, the main riffs and sometimes the drum beat.
“Plays Metallica by Four Cellos” is the debut album by Finnish metal band Apocalyptica, released in 1996. It features instrumental Metallica covers arranged and played on cellos.
The band was invited to record this album by a label employee after a 1995 show in which they performed some of the songs. The members were initially unsure and thought nobody would listen to such a record, but the employee insisted and they recorded it.
And people liked it, especially in Europe. In Finland it was certified Platinum and it was certified Gold in Germany and Poland.
When you hear the vocal melodies of James Hetfield shifted from a voice to a cello, you get to understand how musical Hetfield’s vocal melodies are.
Master Of Puppets
So many good sections in this.
The way they play the Verse and Pre-Chorus with the vocal melody is a must listen.
But you will be pressing play on this to listen to the solo sections as they move from the clean tone arpeggios to the fast sections. And that whole clean tone arpeggios section is very Ennio Morricone sounding, when played on the cellos. But I never thought that hearing it with the electrics.
Harvester Of Sorrow
Great sequencing to have these three tracks one after another. Imagine an album that had this three punch combo.
The slow metal groove on the original version is a favourite and the guys in Apocalyptica do it justice, especially the cello that becomes like the percussive drum.
This song was made to be played via orchestras and cellos however I don’t think that was the intention of Hetifeld and Co. Yes, you can hear some of those Ennio Morricone influences in the original cut that appeared on the “Black” album, but goddamn when you hear the track in this medium, it’s a soundtrack song to a Clint Eastwood Western.
The intro, the chorus and the solo sections are essential listening. You really get to hear the quality and melodicism of Metallica.
And the sequencing of these four tracks is perfect.
Sad But True
When I first heard this song, I heard a bone crushing heavy metal cut with a Kashmir like groove. But when you hear it with the cellos, you immediately pick up on the Ennio Morricone influence.
The Verses and the Chorus played on the cellos along with the vocal melody is essential listening.
Then instead of repeating the Verse and Chorus, the Apocalyptica guys go straight into the excellent Hammett lead break and the Conan The Barbarian “Die” section.
Wherever I May Roam
The middle Eastern style intro suddenly sounds like a Genghis Khan Mongolian soundtrack when played through cellos.
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
This song was always going to work on cellos.
When the arpeggios start and Hammet’s lead begins in the Intro , its haunting and sad.
Basically if you like Metallica, you will like what Apocalyptica does here
David Z, Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington passed away. Ivan Moody was in a dark place at the time.
So many people make money from artists, and some make way more than the artists. The vicious cycles that artists are on from labels and management is borderline negligence.
The show must go on but there is no show when there is no artist.
The Jungle Giants is a band that plays a form of pop rock with dance/techno elements. I’m not a huge fan but in 2017 they were an unsigned artists that racked up over 50 million streams on Spotify. Those stats are impressive and a lot more than artists who actually have label deals.
It’s hard work controlling your own destiny. But you have the freedom to decide what path to take.
And Album number 4 just came out.
When is inspiration/influence just that and when is inspiration/influence copying?
It is possible to borrow without “stealing”. When ideas appear in ones mind, quite often they are unconsciously inspired by a piece of music the artist has heard.
And it’s perfectly okay and very common to take an existing idea and turn it into something new.
According to manager Barry McKay, Steve Harris stole an idea. I don’t know how you can steal an idea, but hey it happens.
Corporations and Unions run this country. The Courts have been compromised by money. The mainstream media is all about half-truths and likes. No one reports with any substance or an opinion anymore as they had served whoever paid them the most.
Game Of Thrones was the most pirated show in the world, with Australia leading the way.
Unless we pay $300 plus for a PAY TV subscription, we couldn’t watch it.
Nine years later nothing much has changed. We’re still a mess. We can’t get our population vaccinated and we have a leader who just looks for the photo opportunity and has best friends who run QANON sites.
I’m an Amazon Prime Video subscriber and due to a deal they have with another PAY TV provider in this country, I couldn’t watch Bosch S7 on Amazon.
So I downloaded it.
Imagine that. I’m a paying legal subscriber and I couldn’t watch a show that the service created on their platform.
Why did guitarists like Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, Alex Skolnick, John Petrucci and Paul Gilbert rise above all the other shredders of the era that came on the scene between 1984 and 1994?
Guitarists like Tony MacAlpine, Greg Howe and Vinnie Moore are all great guitarists, however they are still relatively unknowns outside of their guitar instrumental niche market.
Someone like Vinnie Moore played with Alice Cooper and is holding down the fort with UFO. He’s been there since 2003, 18 years. Michael Schenker only did 11, his first stint between 1973 and 78 was only 5 years.
Perseverance is a massive skill. Especially when it comes to life as a musician in an internet era with information overload each day.
And success happens when you contemplate giving up.
Dream Theater almost called it a day, between 1988 and 1991, when months rolled by and no suitable singer appeared.
Quiet Riot during the Randy Rhoads years, couldn’t get a U.S deal. After Randy left to join Ozzy, Kevin Dubrow persevered under his own surname, only to resurrect the Quiet Riot brand after the death of Randy Rhoads and turn it into a Number 1 act.
George Lynch auditioned for Ozzy’s band on two occasions, losing out to Randy Rhoads once and then to Jake E. Lee. One of his earlier bands “The Boyz” had a showcase gig organised for Gene Simmons to attend. Van Halen opened the show and the rest is history. Gene even said to Lynch, to consider changing his name as he will never make it.
Ronnie James Dio spent 18 years paying his dues before finding success with Rainbow in 1976.
How many musicians starting out today, would put in 18 years of service to music?
Don’t chase trends because what is here today will be gone tomorrow.
Of course it’s more difficult going your own way, however that is the future. If you are successful you will get label interest and a deal that suits you, because without an artist, there is no profit from music for the labels.
The major labels want radio hits so they find artists that are easy to sell and easily expendable.
“The Heat” with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy was one of the funniest movies I had seen that year.
I provided my thoughts on the Metallica “Death Magnetic” DVD which included footage on the making of the album. It came with the Coffin Edition of the album.
James Hetfield still rules. 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. 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”.
And they went on a two year victory lap touring behind the album. They released DVD’s from 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 and the “Orion” festival. They played the summer festivals around the world.
Then they celebrated their 30 years anniversary with a week of shows in San Francisco. When that died down they released the “Beyond Magnetic” EP, which had 4 songs that didn’t make the final cut. Then they released “Quebec Magnetic” and at that point in time they were doing the “Through The Never”movie.
So did anyone remember the debacle of “Lulu”?
It was old news, history. It’s like it never existed.
What a difference two years make?
“The House of Gold and Bones” by Stone Sour was becoming a favorite so I posted my review here and a review of a song “The Uncanny Valley” here.
At the time I was reading about how artists deserve to be paid for their creations because they put their blood, sweat and tears into those works.
It’s the album that defined the Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett and Burton line up. By 1986, they had been together for three years and the musical creativity between the guys was at an all-time high.
I can’t believe I haven’t posted any Metallica reviews at all. When I started this blog I tried to focus on artists who didn’t get a lot of love and stayed away from acts like Metallica because the internet is littered with stories and reviews. But each story and review is personal to the person who wrote it.
For me, Hetfield and his commitment to down picking and writing killer riffs is a huge influence when it comes to guitar playing. The lyrics he wrote, living in corporate Reagenomics showed a maturity far surpassed for his young years. There is and never was, no tease and please in his lyrical lines.
The cover foreshadows that other unseen masters control our lives from the cradle to the grave. Designed by Metallica and Peter Mensch and painted by Don Brautigam, it depicts a cemetery field of white crosses tethered to strings, manipulated by a pair of hands in a blood-red sky.
With “Master Of Puppets”, Metallica took the diverse musical elements of “Ride The Lightning” and raised the bar even higher. Live, they performed even faster and looked like your friend standing next to you watching the show, so far removed from the image put out by Ratt and Motley Crue, to name a few.
The ominous Ennio Morricone themed intro kicks off this monster track. It’s even classical sounding in nature as James Hetfield creates a melody that moves from F to E to D while the low notes move up chromatically from E to F to F# and to G. And while those chords ring out, a subtle harmony guitar outlines a different melodic idea.
Eventually, the power chords start crashing in and those subtle harmony guitar licks come to the fore.
Then all hell breaks loose at the 1.05 mark, when a chainsaw galloping riff smashes through the boundaries and James starts singing with his four day alcohol infested throat. The song isn’t pretty, but its message is about a light that burns within despite the violence and darkness around.
It could be seen as a bastard, a collision between punk and metal.
“Smashing through the boundaries / lunacy has found me / cannot stop the battery”
And a sea of bodies run, circle and smash each other into bits, creating scars to prove that the battery cannot be stopped.
How good is that hard rock like groove and lead from 2.58 to 3.18 before the breakneck solo section.
And make sure you bang your head on the military foot stomping chromatic riff from 3.49 to 4.00.
Which also closes the song. I guess battery is found in me.
“Master Of Puppets”
They wanted to write another “Creeping Death”.
Hetfield grew up in a Christian Science house. The person here is controlled by the religion first, then the family, the social circles of the family and the cultural values of the family and their circle of friends. Hetfield explored these themes of control and subjugation in “Dyers Eve” and “The Unforgiven”.
In its essence, it’s asking for sanity to prevail in a control-freak society/world. Then again, it could be seen as a band saying to their audience, “taste our music and you will see, more is all you need”, because once everyone got a taste of em, they more or less stayed hooked and agreed with Hetfield.
After a few descending and chromatic power chords, the intro riff kicks in at the 3 second mark. Hetfield’s combination of syncopated chromatic lines with a driving low E pedal at 220 beats per minute creates an urgent feeling.
The verse riff has so much power because of the vocal line. They complement each other.
The song could have ended at the 3.32 mark. A 3 minute thrash-a-thon. But this was Metallica, and suddenly we get a haunting Em arpeggio riff, with harmony guitars and James Hetfield breaking out into an individual solo before joining back up with the harmony lead.
Then the clean tone arpeggio riff is played menacingly with distortion while power chords crash down around your senses, while Lar’s just keeps building into the “master, master” chant section.
“The Thing That Should Not Be”
An ominous D to E clean tone chord rings out. On this they drop the E down to D and all the other strings remain the same. It was my first exposure to the DADGBE tuning.
Lyrically, I read a track by track analysis book from Mick Wall and Malcolm Dome, who said the song is about the madness that lives at the bottom of the well of all human souls. And it stuck with me, because even though it could be about the mythical creature Cthulhu, I always saw lyrics from a personal and social point of view.
“Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”
This song is the definition of taking the best things of what has come before and merging those things all together to come up with something unique, original and innovative.
INTRO (0.00 to 0.20) Back in 1971, Yes released “Roundabout”. The intro is more or less a droning note, with some harmonics and a hammer on/pull off lick on the E string.
Take something from the past and make it better.
INTRO 2 and VERSE (0.21 to 1.48) and (2.10 to 3.10) Anyone heard of a New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) band called Bleak House?
If the answer is NO, then you are in the majority. However, a certain person called Lars Ulrich has heard of this band. James Hetfield has even said in an interview that the band shall remain anonymous.
So Bleak House release a song called “Rainbow Warrior” as a seven-inch single in 1980 via Buzzard Records. By 1982, the band called it a day. The intro riff of “Rainbow Warrior” is catchy. It was so good that James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich are influenced by it. They start to jam on it and they start to tweak it into “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”.
Hetfield and Ulrich made this riff the centrepiece, as Hetfield arpeggiates a serious of 5th power chords on the A and D strings, surrounding them with the Open G and E strings, which forms like a double pedal point. The lead break from Hammett is phrased perfectly.
Metaphorically, I saw the world as a lunatic asylum and you know how truth is meant to set you free, but in this song, truth actually imprisons you. In a cruel twist of fate, knowledge is maddening, instead of being powerful. I’ve definitely overanalyzed the lyrics, but god damn, what else was I meant to do during this time except listen to music, analyse the music, read the interviews in the mags I purchased and since I played an instrument, learn the music and write my own music.
In the “Guitar Legends” #108 issue, Hetfield said that the idea for the song came from the move “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” and that “the riff was lifted from some other band, who shall remain anonymous.”
OUTRO (4.05 to 4.26) and (04.48 to end) Metallica have taken the intro from “Tom Sawyer” and used it as their outro. The feel and the phrasing of the two songs are almost identical.
Again, take what has come before and make something new.
One of the most underrated cuts on the album. This song is a blast to play on guitar with so many different movements and bone crunching riffs, like the open string palm muted chugging riff after the power chords intro.
And that open string palm muted riff comes back in the verses.
At 8 plus minutes, it’s a tour de force, another metal classic, the way metal should sound.
“Back to the front / you will die / when I say / you must die” as even in war, the soldiers are controlled by masters. These kind of concepts Hetfield explores a little bit more in “One”.
Make sure you stick around for the various lead breaks between the 4.50 and 5.25 mark.
And the lyric, “I was born for dying” scared the hell out of me, because it’s true. Everything that is born will die eventually.
The song is written by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich. The title comes from a David Bowie lyric in “Ziggy Stardust”.
It’s worth noting that Dave Mustaine claimed he wrote the song’s main riff and was not given credit by Metallica. Hammett denies this, saying that just before the guitar solo there is a less than 10 seconds of music that could be his and that it was actually Lars Ulrich that came up with the main motif.
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” 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 palm muted staccato power chords.
“Send me money, send me green / Heaven you will meet / Make a contribution / And you’ll get a better seat / Bow to leper messiah”
Turn on the TV and you see some evil right there. These TV evangelists made some serious bank, using heavy metal and hard rock music as topics of discussion, while spending a lot of their time in seedy motels doing drugs and hookers.
Make sure you check out the section between the 3.20 to 3.35 mark.
The drums are stock standard while the bass plays phased out chords, but when the distorted guitars kick in, that riff is head banging, back breaking and desk breaking worthy.
At the 4 minute mark, the song slows down into a Sabbath like blues rock riff courtesy of Burton and the guitars really shine here, with their harmonies. From the 5.13 mark, a lone lead starts but its quickly harmonised. This whole section was written by Burton.
At the 5.41 mark, there is another melodic lead which keeps on repeating and it builds into a single lead break. Then you get a bass solo. At the 7 minute mark its back to the thrashing mad lead sections, but here Hammett is all Michael Schenker like.
I will leave this review with the following lines from “Damage Inc.”;
“Following our instinct / not a trend / go against the grain / until the end”
Five years is a long wait between albums, especially in the era controlled by record labels. Your career and audience could disappear within that time. The scene itself could change dramatically.
The self-titled multi-platinum “Black” album came out in 1991. After a two and a bit years global trek, the band released the “Live Shit: Binge & Purge” box set in November 1993.
And then they disappeared from the public eye.
We didn’t know it at the time, but in 1994, the band got into an argument with Elektra, which underwent massive personnel changes that year. And they felt that they were not getting the love and respect they deserved.
So in 1995, Metallica sued to get out of their contract but before it even went to court they sorted out their differences.
For the band to stay with the label, Elektra had to give the band a larger royalty on its music and they had to hand over the master tapes of all the records. The band basically didn’t want the label to control the masters and issue constant “Greatest Hits” or “Best Off” albums that rip off fans or to give the music to corporations for advertising. It was the best business move they did.
By June 1995, work on the album started. In September, they played a few live shows and premiered “2 x 4” and “Devils Dance”.
In January 1996, basic recording for the album was finished. When the album was sent for mixing, some of the tracks had different titles. “Ain’t My Bitch” was just “Bitch”. “Cure” was “Believe”. “The House Jack Built” was just “Jack”. “Mouldy” became “Hero Of The Day”.
And I remember reading a Guitar World issue in July, 1996 and the interviewer just heard a song called “F.O.B.D” and it was described as a “hypnotic, pop tinged” song. We all know this song as “Until It Sleeps”. And another song called “Dusty” which was described as a “ZZ Top on steroids groove”. This became “Poor Twisted Me”.
At this point in time, the self-titled album known as the “Black” album had done 9 million in U.S sales, plus many more millions worldwide.
Metallica didn’t really care about anything as they just moved the needle again to suit themselves and experimented in heavy blues rock territory this time around. And at 78 minutes and 59 seconds long, it was the longest Metallica album.
“Aint My Bitch” has got that “My Sharona” vibe from the outset but goddamn it, the riff is addictive. It’s got all the classic Metallica elements. A foot stomping groove, some fast alternate picking, a hooky chorus and a lot of blues rock, which reminds me of “Holier Than Thou” merged with a little bit of Motorhead.
And wait, what’s that, a slide guitar for the solo. Goddamn right it is.
“Out of my way” alright.
“2 x 4” has this Aerosmith swagger with a lot of Texan dirt. And what about the psychedelic vocal section when they sing, “friction, fusion”.
“I can’t hear ya talking to me”.
Make sure you stick around for the solo section. The song feels like it goes half time there and it then slowly rebuilds up musically, while the guitar solo also increases in intensity.
“The House That Jack Built” has an ominous sounding intro, as James starts singing, “open doors to walk inside”.
How groovy is that verse riff?
“Until It Sleeps” is what Metallica is all about, merging melody with aggression. If you don’t believe me, check out the menacing clean tone sections.
Then there is a vibrato like guitar that keeps ringing as the bass riff starts for “King Nothing”. The outro reminds me of the “Enter Sandman” outro like when the truck hits the kids bed in the video clip.
“Hero Of The Day” is the shortest song on the album, which has a lot of major key elements and a bit of a Southern Rock vibe, before it chugs along into blues rock and metal territory.
“Bleeding Me” percolates until it explodes. This kind of musical drama reminds me of the 70’s acts and how they would build a musical story.
And how good is that outro and Hammet’s solo.
“Cure” asks the question “if you believe”. I do believe in this blues metal boogie rock of Metallica as Hetfield talks and sings and rants his way through the song. Towards the end, Hetfield is converted as he screams, “I do believe”. It’s an underrated album cut.
“Poor Twisted Me” brings out that classic ZZ Top style of boogie. And it’s also got some Danzig/Misfits in the mix and a bit of Led Zeppelin’s “The Wanton Song”.
How good is the vocal melody on “Wasting My Hate”?
The acoustic intro doesn’t give any indication of the song that would explode afterwards.
After “Nothing Else Matters” and “The Unforgiven” it was just a matter of time before we got a simple strummed song. That honour goes to “Mama Said”.
And how good are those country licks in the Chorus?
“Thorn Within” has this AC/DC like descending riff which is already a tick in my book.
“Ronnie” is another classic ZZ Top song that ZZ Top didn’t write with its rumble and tumble boogie riff and Billy Gibbons style vocal.
Finally, we have the closer, “The Outlaw Torn”. This song quickly became a favourite for me. The syncopated drum, bass and guitar groove, keeps building until it explodes into the riff that would become the Chorus. It then settles down again, with just bass and drums while James Hetfield delivers one of his best vocal performances as the song moves between the verses and choruses.
And we don’t get to hear the full outro, as it had to be cut down due to no more space on the CD to include it. But if you purchased one of the singles from the album, the full version is put there as a B-side.
“Load” is a different Metallica but still a very strong Metallica.
I was doing the endless Twitter scroll and I came across a post from a Twitter user called @BookOfMetallicA;
April 8th, 2003: Metallica finished recording the album “St. Anger”.
“There’s two years of condensed emotion in this. We’ve gone through a lot of personal changes, struggles, epiphanies, its deep. It’s so deep lyrically and musically”. James Hetfield.
So I thought, why not. Let’s go back there again.
I saw the band on the “St. Anger” tour when it hit Australia. In a live setting, “Frantic” and “St Anger” were not out of place when matched against the other songs from the band catalogue, but Lar’s didn’t play the fast double kick sections.
I remember picking the album up and it had the DVD of them jamming the album live in their rehearsal studio. I didn’t even play the album, I went straight to the DVD. I purchased the majority of the singles released because of the B-sides. James Hetfield singing off key is jarring, a throwback to the old days of speed metal when it was more about the aggression than being in tune.
The snare sound or the general drum sound didn’t bother me, as some of the music I was listening too had weird percussion drum sounds already like Slipknot, Spineshank and Mudvayne.
“Realistically though if you really think about it – it was the fact that there was NO real songs. That was because the guy who writes the songs – couldn’t write the songs because of where he was personally.
So, what St. Anger became was what the band could do at that point and it is exactly that. It was riffs strung together…
The way I look at it was like raw power or a garage band. It was just riffs… It was garage band and that was supposed to sound like that and what I learned out of it is that people in metal just don’t want it to change. So, it’s best that Rick Rubin continue the metal thing and not Bob.
Hetfield still did a “master of puppets” like job manipulating and piecing together all of the lyrical streams of consciousness’s from the other guys into lyrics.
The title “Some Kind Of Monster” is more attached to the no holds barred documentary/film than the actual song. But the first two minutes of just instrumental music grooves its way into your brain and it would not be out of place on a “Corrosion of Conformity” album.
In “Dirty Window”, Hetfield is judge, jury and executioner while he finds ways to rhyme defecator and rejecter.
“Invisible Kid” has a lot of potential.
“My World” is “Frantic” part 2. And I feel like it’s a dig at their performance coach, with the lyric. “it’s my world and you can’t have it”. At one stage, the performance coach thought he was part of the band.
“Shoot Me Again” could have come from Alice In Chains.
How good does “Sweet Amber” start off?
That bluesy feeling.
“The Unnamed Feeling” has this “Outlaw Torn” feel with some slide guitar as Hetfield sings about something coming alive while he dies a little more. “Purify” is the only song that had nothing there to jam to.
“All Within My Hands” should have been titled “Control Everything, Kills Everything”. And it’s strange because Hetfield is singing on key but the music is downtuned chaos.
Overall, there is enough riffage on the album that makes it fun for me to pick up the guitar to jam to and for that, it still stands the test of time as Metallica always had the balls to do what they wanted to do.
My playlist even starts off with “The Unforgiven” trilogy.
My cousin purchased the “ReLoad” album on release day. I didn’t even know it was out. He calls me to come over, as he’s got a song he’s been working on that he wants me to hear.
So I go over and he plays a song. And I’m thinking why is the song starting exactly the same as “The Unforgiven” with that blaring car horn effect.
And I go to my cousin, “why are you playing me “The Unforgiven”, I’ve already heard it.”
But, I didn’t finish the sentence as the distortion chords with the octave guitar melody over the same chord progression as the first song, kick in.
James Hetfield sounds like he’s taken a dose of country as his voice in the verses is exactly like that. Even the way he arpeggiates, and does those double stop bends, it’s country.
Artists growth is an important tool. Hetfield grew up on hard rock and southern rock at first.
In a “SoWhat” interview, James mentions that he even wrote a letter to the Aerosmith fan club address he had in the 70s, telling the band how much their music meant to him and asking them a question, but he never got a response back.
And James brings his influences into the Metallica mix and the band keeps growing.
The Chorus has that unique Hetfield voice, melodic, aggressive and abrasive and it’s that Chorus that remains with me.
What I’ve felt, what I’ve known, turn the pages, turn the stone, behind the door, should I open it for you
The lost soul, a new “The Unforgiven” is found by another. But the door is shut, unable to let this other in.
But now I see the sun, now I see the sun Yes now I see it
Only when “The Unforgiven” has lost the one thing that was known as love is the door to the heart finally open and the sun let in. But it’s too late.
The thing with this show is that Metallica are not really touring on an album as “Death Magnetic” is 5 years old by now. So it’s like a best off. And after watching this show, it’s a best off, based on songs which work really well in the live arena.
Hit the Lights
It’s become their standard opener in the YouTube live recordings I’ve seen. It’s simplicity is its energy.
Master of Puppets
There is no denying the power of that intro riff.
And the tempo of the song is increased a few more beats per minute. To put it into context, a 7 plus minute song at its normal tempo is reduced to a 6 plus minute song because of the tempo increase.
And as is the norm, the crowd singalong in the slow harmony lead is Maiden-esque from “Rock In Rio”.
The Four Horsemen
As the feedback from “Master Of Puppets” keeps ringing out on James’s guitar, and after asking “if Melbourne is ready” (we pronounce it Mel-Burn while James pronounces it as its spelt, Mel-Bourne), James launches into the opening riff.
And I forgot to mention how Lars is the master of the facials.
And finally there is a pause after the triple knockout of the first three songs.
Harvester of Sorrow
Lars cops a lot of crap for his drumming, but the dude can play and his drum parts are uniquely his.
This song is heavy, and the drum patterns from Lars definitely add to it. Simplicity at its finest.
And I’ve always said that if this song wasn’t written, then “Enter Sandman” wouldn’t have been written to become the beast it became.
The slower tempo, the open string arpeggio riff which grooves and the intro drumming pattern all combine to become the embryo of what “Enter Sandman” is. Check out the version on YouTube from Moscow on the Black tour.
Then there is a two minute “Guitar Doodle” where Kirk plays a few riffs and a lead guitar spotlight, but to me these kind of things are best left in the warm up room.
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
But the “Guitar Doodle” was a side piece, a sleight of hand, while they set up James with the acoustic guitar for “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”.
And Lars owns the ending with the harmony guitars as he nails the double bass drumming.
There is a section in this song during the intro, when the bass just plays and the guitars play a heavily palm muted E5 power chord, staccato like.
And the title came from the late Mr Cliff Burton (RIP).
To reiterate, I’ve always said to all of the people who dissed the “Black” album for “selling out” to refer to songs like “Leper Messiah”, “For Whom The Bells Toll”, “Escape”, “Jump In The Fire”, “Harvester of Sorrow”, “The Thing That Should Not Be” and “Trapped Under Ice”. They are all slower tempo songs, like the “Black” album songs.
My Friend of Misery
One of my favourite tracks on the “Black” album. My actual favourite is “Holier Than Thou”.
The bass riff is “iconic” and that slow breakdown section with that emotive lead is my favourite part of the song. It’s the norm now for the crowd to sing the harmony part but Melbourne (pronounced Mel-Burn) was the first to do it.
I gotta admit, this is the shit for an artist.
Hearing the Metallica family sing back their riffs and leads, is moving and emotional. If you don’t feel it, check for a pulse.
Sad But True
Its heavy and you can tell the band enjoys playing it.
Then a little “Bass Doodle” is another sleight of hand as the band gets ready for “Fade To Black”.
Fade to Black
For a song that generated so much controversy in the 80’s during that whole “kid commits suicide so let’s sue the heavy metal artist the kid likes” period, it’s become one of their biggest songs ever.
And that whole outro section is some of my favourite piece of music.
All Nightmare Long
I haven’t heard this song for almost a decade, and man, I’m asking myself “why”. It’s a good song. So many riffs in it and that Chorus is excellent.
Then I played “Death Magnetic” and I remembered why I stopped listening to it.
“The Loudness Wars”.
This is when bands compressed their mixes so much to get maximum volume in the master.
I don’t think there will be a set list that will not have this song on it.
The clean tone intro with the leads, the “landmine” double kick section and that finger tapped outro along with the harmony guitars.
How can you not like it?
For Whom the Bell Tolls
The intro in this song is head banging stuff. A perfect song for the live arena and they played it a bit quicker.
The backing tape of the backwards harmony guitars starts it off and it’s one of my favourite Metallica cuts and man, don’t they bring it.
It’s 7/4 staccato intro riff is thrash metal prog. Even in the Chorus it moves between 4/4 and 2/4. It leaves all other pretenders behind as it begins whipping the dance of the dead.
Then there is another “Guitar Doodle” which then sets up, “Nothing Else Matters”.
Nothing Else Matters
Even though Kirk plays the intro live, this is James’s song. It’s his spotlight moment and he takes the Dave Gilmour like lead with a guitar hero gusto.
And I remember when the “Black” album came out, I was reading some of the comments about this song from artists of the thrash genre and writers for magazines like Metal Mania.
Like it was a sell out or whatever.
Tell that to the 50,000 people in attendance who sang every word of it.
One thing about Metallica is that they never remained fixed.
There was always growth in their music.
If you want an example of a growth mindset in music then this band is it. IF you want an example of a fixed mindset in music then AC/DC is it.
There is no right or wrong. It all works.
So James lets his guitar feedback ring out, shows his Australian minted guitar picks to the camera which the audience sees on the big screen and they raise their voices in appreciation and “Enter Sandman” begins.
This song is a live powerhouse.
The “Die By My Hand” chant evolved in the live arena.
This song was also mentioned in one of those “Satanic Panic” articles and documentaries I read in a newspaper written by clueless journalist or saw on TV like 60 minutes.
I remember a lawyer saying, “what kind of band tells their audience to “die” in a concert”.
It’s unbelievable shit to see and hear how desperate people became to blame someone.
It’s not my favourite song but I love the title for its uniqueness.
Seek & Destroy
And the closer, sending the Metallica family on their way to seek and destroy.
You can take it literally or you can use it as growth, to seek new knowledge, gain new skills and destroy your old self as you create a new self, stronger and better.
Metallica, once again is doing something different and not fixed during this COVID break.
Breaking out the archives for free.
Most artists would release these as DVD releases. For a fee. But not Metallica. There is a reason why they are on top.
I was doing some boring things, which involved data entry of receipts for tax returns and I needed some music. So I went to YouTube and I came across a few of the recent live concerts Metallica have released while we have been in isolation.
This one came out a week ago and they play the full “Black” Album (for the 20th Anniversary tour), but a year later, which Lars makes mention in his introduction.
Some of the songs are pedal to the metal aggression and energy, some songs have tempo changes in between courtesy of Lars, some songs like “Hell And Back” from the “Beyond Magnetic” EP sound great, and James getting the crowd to sing harmonies during the “My Friend Of Misery” solo is brilliant.
Hearing the whole “Black” album played from last song to first is brilliant, and I forgot how powerful some songs are, like “Holier Than Thou”. For that song, the guys brought it. Damn did they bring it.
Let’s unpack the set list.
“Hit the Lights” sounded fresh even though at this point in time in 2012 it’s 30 years old. “Master of Puppets” never gets old and neither does “The Four Horsemen”.
Now “For Whom The Bell Tolls” should be a powerful statement, but it was patchy with the tempo swinging around a few times, and Kirk doing ad-libs in that awesome intro solo.
“Hell and Back” was a surprise at how good it sounded live. Then they started with the “Black” album and “The Struggle Within” showed why they never really played it live as it was a struggle.
“My Friend of Misery” was great with James getting the crowd to sing harmonies. “The God That Failed” is also one of my favourite cuts because of the groove and it didn’t disappoint. The intro to “Of Wolf & Man” is perfect for the live arena.
“Nothing Else Matters” is a staple but not their best performance of it on this gig.
The next three cuts all rocked, “Through the Never”, “Don’t Tread On Me” and “Wherever I May Roam”.
“The Unforgiven” has one of Kirk’s best solos. “Holier Than Thou” had so much energy and “Sad But True” is so heavy and a great live song.
“Enter Sandman” was played with the tempo a bit quicker and man, it worked so good. I was tapping my foot and nodding my head the whole time.
Now if you want to hear how Death Metal came to be a thing, check out “Fight Fire With Fire”. While the recorded version still had a young James singing, the voice that James brings out live is guttural.
“One” is a great live song, especially when that double kick section begins and it’s all just a little bit faster.
And “Seek & Destroy” closes it out, so all the fans can cruise the city looking for a fight.
And the thing is, Metallica travels with a professional camera crew and the footage they film is quality. While bands release these kind of concerts on DVD, Metallica bootleg their own concerts and release selections on YouTube or if you subscribe to their “own” streaming service you get all of these concerts, and albums and demos and what not.
So there is a reason why Metallica is staying on top. They are innovating on their own.
How many other big artists have their own streaming service?
Another game changer track, a progressive 7 minute instrumental, with a title taken from the works of HP Lovecraft and his mythical monster.
And death was the unifying theme on “Ride The Lightning” except for “Escape”, a Thin Lizzy like cut which had defiant social lyrics like “Life is my own to live my own way”. The same message could be heard on songs like “Stand Up And Shout” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It”.
“The Call Of Ktulu” has got a bit of everything, written mostly by Dave Mustaine in his Dux of the Year contribution however the publishing will show Hetfield, Ulrich, Burton, Mustaine.
And it’s got the embryonic riff of what will become “Hanger 18” in Megadeth many years later, based around a chromatic ascending riff similar to “Kashmir” from Led Zeppelin.
The songs structure is orchestral like and it’s full of ascending and descending scales, chromatic lines which give the song an air of menace and time changes.
The intro alone moves from a classical inspired Dm arpeggio riff to the Am Tritone arpeggio riff and back to the Dm “Hangar 18” riff.
And the “Ride The Lightning” album was the first time that Cliff was really writing with the band, and this partnership would come to fruition on the follow up album “Master Of Puppets” album.
Rumors existed that Hetfield didn’t write any lyrics because he never actually read any of Lovecraft’s works or that the song that appears on the album was a throwaway jam from the Mustaine era, with Mustaine actually playing, because the album was over budget and needed an extra track.
And the various companies printing the LPs kept spelling it wrong on various pressings. “The Cat Of Ktulu” and “The Call Of The Ktulu”.
Regardless, enjoy a brilliant track which was made even more menacing when Michael Kamen wanted to open the “S&M” show with it many years later, which gave the song a new lease of life and people once again became interested in Metallica’s back catalogue.