Monday, April 05, 2010

Everybody loves Metallica…

…the old stuff.

Everybody has to qualify their love for Metallica with that additional sidenote. It’s the definitive post-script of my generation.

I used to be slightly annoyed with the over-justification because I felt as though there was no need. They were a great great metal band who reached their technical limitations and then became a solid hard-rock band. To compare the two incarnations is unfair, albeit inescapable.

The obvious backlash occurred but what many failed to realize is that the band simply could not progress any further than what they had done on …And Justice for all. And fortunately for them, Bob Rock, in his snakeskin-cowboy-booted and goldie-locked glory, recognized this. The band slowed things down, simplified, and sold millions of records. Good for them, but considering the fact that the Black album was released twenty years ago and they’ve continued to release records, they’re on pretty shaky ground.

Nirvana and Green Day killed mainstream metal in the early 90’s and Lars Ulrich, in his insatiable thirst to remain trendy cut his hair (and Hetfield’s, most likely), slapped on a blue fur coat, some eyeliner, and the band cranked out Load and Re-load. [They] remained relevant by continuing to disappoint fans that just wanted the nimble music [they] had stopped played 6 years prior. The thing is, I didn’t dislike Load. I didn’t really care that it wasn’t Ride the Lightning part 2. The songs were still catchy and well recorded, and at that time I didn’t need more of what they used to be. I just didn’t care.

But now I do care. Kind of.

The band works very hard and no one can take that away from them, but they’re victims of their own development (of lack thereof). They were successful in a time where they had fewer peers and were creating a standard which has long since been surpassed. Slayer was more gifted but too controversial. Hetfield had melody and the band crossed over into the punk community through wardrobe and cover song choices. They were the perfect heavy band of that time.

The fortunate reality for the band is that angst-fueled teenagers and jean short wearing 30-40 somethings still want to hear the old material, which is why they’re still the one of maybe two heavy bands that can tour the world and play the largest venues available (incl. Maiden). Truthfully, having never seen them I would as well if it didn’t mean spending so much money to do so. Sadly I know that I’d find myself cringing through most of the performance because with age and musicianship my ears would find it impossible to ignore Hammett’s slightly out of tune, amateur hour vibrato, and Lars only hitting the kick on the 1 of every 4 beats (during the brisk songs). Not to mention leaping off his drum stool and keeling over, crippled from playing a song like “Nothing else matters”.

One could argue that the main reason people still believe in Metallica is a result of craving; the constant want and hope for the band to suddenly release a record that would hearken back to their glory years. Ironically it’s this hope that in some ways keeps the band alive. Or conversely, keeps fans interested. Yes they still put the odd thrashy number on their newer albums, but for every Frantic there’s a Sweet Amber. Or for every My Apocalypse, there’s a SWEET AMBER. The riffs just aren’t there, the songs are too long and repetitive, and they don’t have that “fly by the seat of your pants” fury that a song like “Fight fire with fire” had.

The foolish thing is that I do feel guilty about writing this. It’s as though I’m convinced that somehow, someone from the band will read this and feel insulted. They’re a critical band and one that is inarguably important in my developments as both a listener and performer of music.

Am I hiding behind a keyboard? Of course I am, because I’d never say any of these things to any of their faces. Am I envious of their achievements in the world of recorded music? Anyone who has held an instrument onstage would be lying if they said ‘no’.

Because I do love Metallica…

…especially when Meshuggah released Contradictions Collapse in 1991(ahem, NINETEEN NINETY-ONE!): the record that Metallica would have recorded had they had the technical proficiency to continue in the progressive realm they began to explore on Justice.

On an unrelated note,

If you’re into good music that I know absolutely nothing about, please go HERE where you can download a mix of good music that I know absolutely nothing about, compiled by someone who knows way more about it than I do..

No comments: