This is the one post I never wanted to write, but it’s also one of the posts that are inevitable. It’s such a hot button topic that I hesitate to write the truth, what I really think and feel, about one of the biggest bands in the history the whole damn planet. One way or another, this kind of thing is bound to piss someone off.
I pride myself on not being too big a dick on this site or on my YouTube channel. I try to keep an open mind, look for the good of most things, and point out things they can demonstrably improve the song, a band, or an album. But writing about bands I don’t like: that feels too much like gatekeeping. Still, if I’m going to have any integrity… this can’t be avoided.
So, back in the day, there was his little band called Metallica. I never took their first two albums, Kill ’em All or Ride the Lightning too seriously. I’ve never owned them, never even download them on a streaming service. Not to say they are better than anyway, and I understand their place Metallica fans hearts, I’m just not that into thrash. It doesn’t do anything for me, but I’m waiting up to know that doesn’t mean it’s bad music.
But Master of Puppets? Holly shit, man. That was incredible. The writing was astounding, the playing was so tight it was ferocious. They also wrote about real things, stuff that made a person think. This was no dumbed down parking lot heavy-metal, it was fierce and refined at the same time in a way I don’t think many bands were able to pull off, other than Iron Maiden.
…And Justice for All took everything that made Puppets great and turned it up to 11. Except the bass, of course. But if I’m truly honest with myself and try to account what was going through my mind at the time, I didn’t really care. That album reached God level status, not just for me but for quite a lot of people. And when the song One made it, unabridged, on heavy MTV rotation… Fugetaboutit! Heavy metal, as we knew it at the time, had come out of age and was ready for a reckoning.
February 22, 1989, was probably the only time in my life that I actually watched the Grammys. I don’t think I was alone in that, because the Grammys had finally instituted a Heavy Metal/Hard Rock category. The odds-on favorite to win? Of course it was Metallica. If anything, losing to Jethro Tull simply endeared Metallica to us even more deeply. They became our heroes, symbols of our inner most selves, struggling to make it in the marketplace the frankly didn’t give a shit about us or our music.
Watching their performance of One that night what is an event unto it self, regardless of whether they won or not. Because we all won the minute they took that stage. Metal had arrived, and it didn’t matter that it was thrash. It was fast, heavy, and unlike anything the Grammy’s had ever hosted.
And then the released the Black Album…
I really hope you watch this video, where I give the rest of my thoughts. I’m joined by Ryan from Slightly Fuzzed, a devout Metallica fan. We debate a bunch of Metallica issues, and it never gets heated. But some of our takes may be…controversial.
Oh yeah, and before anyone else calls me on it, Bob Rock did not produce Def Leppard. It was the heat of the moment, ya know?