Metallica is the first band that got me into really heavy music. They made me enjoy fast-paced music, aggression, anger, and music that just makes you want to headbang forever. For most people, this is also the case. I know many of my friends give Metallica credit for being their “gateway” band, the band that got them into metal in the first place. Metallica was the first real metal band I enjoyed. Master Of Puppets and …And Justice For All are two of the best albums ever written, at least to me, and they’ve never gotten old. However, the band has polarized the entire genre due to their foray into lighter music n the 1990s and their last two records, Death Magnetic and St. Anger. While the former was received well but criticized for the brickwalled production, the latter was disliked by many due to the production, Lars’ infamous trash can snare drum sound, and the absence of guitar solos. However, you better believe that every metal fan listened to the new Metallica song when it first dropped on this past Friday. Naturally, opinions vary, but I’m here to give my thoughts on the first new official Metallica song in 8 years, and my first thought is this: METALLICAAAAAAAAAAAA!
There’s many different emotions that I’ve been going through since the first of dozens of plays, so we’ll begin with the first one: nostalgia. This brings me back to the first time I ever heard a Metallica song, “Battery”, back in 6th grade. The song is charged from beginning to end, and it made me remember the first time I heard them because at the time, it was something that I’d never experienced before. This song reminds me so much of that time because this song is actually thrash metal. It’s raw, pure thrash metal. It’s not some 8 minute long experiment. It’s straight to the point, balls to the wall, old school thrash metal, and that’s what makes it so great to hear. Metallica were a band that I thought might end up just calling it quits and releasing their last record of unreleased songs, but this makes me excited, which brings me to my second emotion: hopefulness.
This song gets me excited for a number of reasons, but perhaps the largest reason is because of how killer it is It’s almost like it’s a return to form for a band that seemed to have lost their way decades ago, and were always trying to catch up to where they left off after taking a few strides back. While the albums they made from 1990-present were good, they weren’t great. They weren’t classics like AJFA or MOP are. They also sounded like a different band recorded them. I still hold firm that if Load, ReLoad, and St. Anger were recorded by another band, they’d be hugely successful albums. However, when I think of Metallica, I think of thrash metal, and this song is the thrashiest thing they’ve done in two decades.
However, with all the praise I’ve given, I do still have some qualms. Perhaps it’s due to Youtube’s compression, but I am so far not a fan of the production of the drums. The kick is way too loud in the mix, and the snare almost drowns out the guitars. The guitars themselves sound pretty decent, but once again, I suspect compression is at fault and they tone was actually better. It’s always aggravated me that a band that has literally all the money they could ever want and access to anybody and everybody they’d ever want to produce their records had such subpar production over the last two albums. It’s really a shame, because I feel like the band hasn’t had good production since the 1990s, which should not be the case for a band of this stature. I’ll have to hear the entire album to decide or myself, but so far, it’s definitely going to be an issue biting at my heels.
I was beginning to lose faith in the band. I figured if they did release a new record, it would be absolute trash, and they would continue to release a new record and tour but play mostly old tunes. I didn’t want them to turn into a band who’s best days were behind them, especially considering how important and influential the band was in my metal preferences over the years. This song, though, makes me feel guilty for thinking like that. While the jury’s still out on what the rest of the record will sound like, if anything is clear, it’s that Metallica re most certainly not dead; the are alive. DO YOU FEEL ALIVE?!