Guitar World Presents Metallica

Guitar World Presents Metallica

The Editors of Guitar World Magazine

Guitar World

Let me first go on the record (for the umpteenth time) about my personal opinion of Metallica. As far as I’m concerned their first four albums, Kill ‘Em All, Ride the Lightening (my personal favorite), Master of Puppets and … And Justice For All are to the 1980s what the first six Black Sabbath albums are to the entire genre of heavy metal. (Garage Days Re-revisited is good, but doesn’t count.) In other words, Metallica owns the heavy metal world of the 1980s. They are the most influential of bands and are largely responsible for turning on the metal world to the Misfits.

Now, what Metallica has done in the 1990s with two and a half albums (Metallica and Load)? Other than become the only metal band to hit the mainstream pop music world and stay there, addicting countless millions of middle-Americans who like the band because it’s “hip”? Take the biggest shit on the heads of the worldwide heavy metal faithful. I find these two albums, that have outsold the previous five by probably tenfold, to be complete piles of shit. What happened to the awesome, rip-roaring headbanging riffs? The thrashing? The power? The long instrumentals, and lyrics based on H.P. Lovecraft stories?

Well, none of that matters because, hey, who the hell am I?

Anyway, the editors of Guitar World ran more than 100 pages of interviews with Metallica between 1990 to 1997, including a great double-interview with rhythm guitarist James Hetfield and Black Sabbath founder and guitarist Tony Iommi. While I’ve read my share of interviews and stories about Metallica in other magazines over the years, I hadn’t paid attention to the band since 1992, and this book kind of got me up to speed. Granted, the writers do, in fact strongly, acknowledge that Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine was cruelly booted from Metallica right before they were signed (a lot of the songs on Kill ‘Em All are credited to Mr. Mustaine), and they don’t leave out that former bassist Cliff Burton (killed in a bus accident while on tour with the band in Sweden) was largely responsible for a lot of the weird imagery in their songs.

What I appreciated about the interviews was the good questions about the band (albeit they focuses only on the 1990s work) and the clear dedication to the band’s business in the music industry on the part of Hetfield and co-founder drummer Lars Ulrich. They are clearly dedicated to producing a brand of metal that appeals to a broad-spectrum commercial-music-buying-and-listening public and seem to see no need to follow any other creed. I can’t fault them for that and they do have a genuine interest in the great British heavy metal bands of the late 1970s/early 1980s, who were their biggest influence at the beginning. So, I’d say that this compilation of interviews is pretty valuable if you’re interested in what James and gang has to say.

But I still remember, just a little over a year ago, a coworker’s wife, who was really “hip” telling me that the material Metallica was releasing on Load was the greatest the band had yet recorded. Right away I asked her if she thought the songs would top “Trapped Under Ice,” “Escape,” or “Creeping Death.” she told me she’d never heard of those songs, were they on their first album?

Call me a snob, but there are some things that just should not be.

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