(Metallica Week) 4 Part Album Review: Hardwired…To Self-Destruct (2016 Deluxe Edition Boxset, Album # 3)

This is a bonus disc. There are only 2 songs on here. A re-recorded version of the rare single, Lords Of Summer from a few years ago, and a live version of Hardwired, recorded August 2016 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The record is a beautiful shade of translucent red so I stare at it, and let the light shine through it a bit before I place it on the turntable.

Lord Of Summer – I wasn’t lucky enough to nab this single when it came out on Record Store Day in 2014, so this is a nice way to get this song on vinyl. The version on this album is shortened by a minute, and is re-recorded with better production and sound. The guitar work is ace here. Amazingly fast and precise riffs change pace and tone throughout the song. Roughly 3/4 of the way through the song, it changes pace and the wah influenced guitar tone really lures me in. I am loving the new challenge Kirk is putting on himself. The drumming is pretty great too. This boxset is giving me a new found respect for Lars. It really pains me to say this because of prior acts and performances, but he has turned a new corner at least in terms of his drumming ability. This boxset like no album before pushes the direction of the music into uncharted territory. I love the mix of old school Metallica and experimentation.

Hardwired (Live) – The crowd cheers and off we go. The first thing I am struck with is how this live recording sounds so much like the album version. James’ voice is different but still awesome. The guitar work is brilliant. The bass is not loud enough, but that is the same on many of their recorded songs as well. The drums sound wicked awesome. I remember when the video first appeared in August the Lars haters were speaking about how the drums sounded fake. Well guess what folks. They sound just as good on this live recording. I just said it on the last paragraph, but I will repeat myself. Lars has turned a corner as far as I am concerned. Judging him strictly as a drummer, he sounds pretty damn good to me. Perhaps as good as his early days in the band. This is a really good thing. I hope to see this band when they tour for this album, and if their live stuff sounds as good as this, I’ll be a happy camper.

9.5/10

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(Metallica Week) 4 Part Album Review: Hardwired…To Self-Destruct (2016 Deluxe Boxset Edition, Album #2)

I grab the wonderful slab of transluscent yellow vinyl, pop on the headphones and I’m off.

Confusion – The start sounds a wee bit like Whiskey In The Jar, but then goes off on a sort of Megadeth meets Pantera trip. Kirk and his guitar are the stars for me, but Lars holds his own pretty well.

Dream No More- This has an almost Sad But True vibe to it. At times this song is almost chugging along. It seems a bit like a cassette player that is playing a bit slow. Desert rock fans will probably like this song since they enjoy their music low and slow. This song is in a different track order than the cd.

ManUNkind – Nice quiet, mellow song here. Bring this to grandma’s house for tea. She’ll love it until….”what is that bull doing crashing through the front window?” No that is just Kirk cranking the amps to 11 and scaring the shit out of grandma. As I said before I love when songs start mellow and then blast your eardrums.

Take the record and flip it. It’s not to late. To flip it. Flip it good.

Here Comes Revenge – Again Kirk and Lars are the heroes of the day here. The drummer has a similar tone to Enter Sandman. The guitar solo is pretty cool, and once again James proves he is more than a vocalist with his guitar work.

Murder One – This song sounds like a total throw back to an 80’s Metallica song. I can envision the boys back when they all had long hair head banging in unison while playing this one. This song is a tribute to Lemmy Kilmister. The title was the nickname for Lemmy’s amp, the lyrics include Motorhead songs, and.the video below is a Lemmy tribute as well.

Spit Out The Bone – This as pretty damn fast speed metal. For a bunch of old dudes this is pretty awesome. This may be Lars’ best drumming performance ever. Say what you will about this guy, he does a damn fine job here. I’m sure a ton of drummers half his age couldn’t pull this one off. The guitar work is ace as well. Some very non Metallica riffs here. I love when they experiment and it works. This one works very well. Then it slows down to a human pace for a bit and goes back up into hyperspace. A really, really great song.

9.5/10

 

(Metallica Week) 4 Part Album Review: Metallica – Hardwired…To Self-Destruct (Deluxe Edition Boxset – Album #1)

Well Amazon finally delivered my Hardwired..To Self Destruct. It’s not as if I was foaming at the mouth waiting for this or anything. Exactly 1 week late. On RSD Black Friday of all days. Everyone else who even has a slight liking for Metallica has had the album to listen to for a full week. Therefore I have decided to split the boxset up into 4 parts. The 3 vinyl albums, and the added bonus cd. Just a note of the quality of this boxset though first. The packaging is amazing. The pictures are cool, the buttons are no good to me, but a nice addition I guess. I also enjoy having a cd that I can listen to in the car, while having the vinyl for at home. The best of both worlds. The coolest part of this is the unique and beautiful coloured vinyl. The 3 slabs are see through yellow, blue and red and all have a marbled effect in them as well. As Borat would say “WaWaWeeWa. Is a very nice.”

Hardwired – We’ve all heard this song by now. It was released on video and to radio stations this past August. It was the song that introduced us to the album. For me, and I think for many others as well, it gave hope that the new Metallica was going to rock. it was going to be a balls out affair. On the gas, kicking ass, and taking names. If you don’t like us, get the hell out of our way. The energy, the attitude, and the volume level meant Metallica were back. Looking for their throne at the top of the musical pile.

Atlas, Rise – The first thing I notice about this song is the guitar tone has a definite 80’s Metallica tone. This is a good thing. A really good thing. On October 31, this was the third single released from the album. (Around the same time, they also released a free mask available at select record stores, and I was able to snag one of those as well.) I had heard it once on the radio, and I liked it right away. Old school Metallica guitar work, great vocals, booming bass, and Lars sounding very un-Lars like.

Now That We’re Dead – This song has a very Enter Sandman beat to it. Some of the drumming sounds a little electronically altered, but the rest of the song is pretty awesome. The guitar work is ace here. The starts and stops. The mellow but yet aggressive tones, and the enchanting rhythmic beat keep you in a trance. Oh, and did I mention that I love the guitar work here.

I grab that gorgeous blue slab of vinyl and after looking through it out the window for a while, flip it over and bask in side b.

Moth Into Flame – The second single released quickly became everyone’s favourite. Everyone I talked to about this album ranted how awesome this song is. To me it almost has an Iron Maiden quality to it. The guitar work especially sounds like some of the best dual guitar metal bands out there. What that means, is don’t count James out. He is a great vocalist of course, but he can shred when the time is right. Kirk is the real star here though. His riffs are loud, fast and awesome. Lars makes up for the last one by just doing what he should stick to. Shut your yap, lose the electronic crap, and pound on the skins as best as you can. He delivers here. James’ vocals are growlingly gorgeous, and Robert keeps the bottom end down low. Of note here, is the wah pedal influenced guitar work and the solos. Did I mention again the guitar kicks ass on this one.

Am I Savage? – The vinyl version has a different track order than the cd. On the cd this is the 4th song on the second disc. This is a slower, but yet aggressive and growly song. This isn’t the new Bon Jovi folks. The Metallica version would be more like This Fucking House Ain’t For Sale Asshole, So Stop Asking Or I’ll Rip Off Your Arm And Beat You With It. Am I Savage? Yes you are James. Yes you are. Of note for me is the guitar tone again. Both Kirk and James experiment here. I almost get a AC/DC meets death metal meets 70’s wah mix if you can wrap your head around that.

Halo On Fire – More guitar experimentation here. The transition between guttural screams/guitar wails and slower, quieter almost peaceful music(for Metallica) really hooked me in. Of note for me is the sound of Robert’s bass. He must have confused Lars with something shiny and cranked up his bass amp. I wish he was allowed to crank it up on every song. This song sounds nothing like Black Sabbath, but this song reminds me of great Dio era Sabbath songs that start all peaceful and then suddenly blast you into next week. This is possibly my favourite song so far on this album. I love it. LOVE IT.

If the rest of the album is like this I am in like Flynn.

10/10

 

 

 

 

(Metallica Week) Movie Review: Jaco (2015)

Ok. Are you scratching your head yet? How does a movie about a jazz fusion bass player have anything to do with Metallica? Well, let me explain. The movie was produced and financed by non other than the bassist for Metallica, Robert Trujillo. Like a ton of bassists, Robert was inspired by Jaco Pastorius, so he felt that he had to tell his story.

The movie is a collection of photographs, super 8 video, old interviews, live footage, and commentary from relatives, friends, fellow musicians, and bassists that were influenced by Jaco.

Jaco early on in the film is seen as a family man that saved his money and sent it home. He didn’t party like many fellow musicians did in the early days. He let his music do the talking. He was said to have a great ego, and whenever he would introduce himself he always added that he was the greatest bass player in the world. That’s how he introduced himself to Bobby Colomby from Blood, Sweat & Tears. When Bobby heard Jaco play, he immediately brought him to New York to record his self-titled debut.

Next Jaco introduced himself the same way to Joe Zawinul. Joe didn’t believe him until he heard him. Then Joe let the bassist from Weather Report, Alphonso Johnson hear Jaco. Alphonso immediately knew his job in Weather Report was over and so he moved on. Jaco joined Weather Report and the fireworks began almost immediately. Jaco and Joe were like oil and vinegar, or as Robert Thomson Jr., the band’s percussionist puts it “Two cobras in a very small cage.”

Later on Joni Mitchell was looking for a bass player to play the notes she wanted since her bass player refused to do so. He told her of a dude in Florida that already plays like that, so she recruited Jaco. His stage presence in her band was amazing. However, he stepped over the bounds in her eyes. He would mess with her mic, and her mix to make himself be the star. He would take extra long solos. This was amazing for the fans, but caused a riff in the band.

Next the film starts to deal with the darker side of Jaco. He was acting stranger as time went on. Hanging around studios for days on end. Flea(Red Hot Chili Peppers) mentions in the film he saw Jaco out in the streets of New York playing for change. He is committed to Bellevue and is diagnosed as having Bipolar Disorder. After leaving Bellevue he travels back to Florida where he eventually ends up living in a park. We find the tragic tale of Jaco trying to go onstage at a Santana concert and later that night being beaten outside of a Florida nightclub. He eventually succumbs to his injuries from the beating.

This was a very good film. It will be a great film to watch if you are a Jaco fan, but it will also bring the music of this great bassist to light for a lot of new fans.

9.5/10

 

 

Happy 35th Anniversary Album Review: AC/DC – For Those About To Rock We Salute You (1981)

Today marks the 35th anniversary of this wonderful album. This was my first venture into vinyl. As a young lad, Christmas was a big deal. I knew AC/DC was coming out with an album just before Christmas and that was what I asked for. There were thousands of bands I could have chosen to be my first slab of brand new vinyl, but I chose this one. AC/DC were quickly becoming one of my favourite bands and I was hoping this new album would deliver.

Well Christmas day came and I ran downstairs and tore open the wrapping paper. YESSSSSSSS!!!!!! I had struck gold. Gold gatefold that is. A simple gold gatefold with a canon on front and the song titles on back. When I opened the gatefold I saw an amazing picture of the band during a live performance. Malcolm strumming and singing, Brian raising his fists in the air, Angus stepping and wailing, (Phil was obscured behind the drum kit) and for me the ultimate shot. Cliff Williams with the coolest head of hair in rock was shot in mid head bang and the hair is almost completely obscuring his face. I wanted to look like that.

I played that album non stop that day, much to my parents chagrin I’m sure. Back then I had no record player. I had to play it on my parents big old console stereo. I roughly peeled whatever country album happened to be on there off and gently lowered my prime slab of greatness down and dropped the needle. On first listen I was hooked. I bet I played that thing 10 times or more. Over and over. I loved it. LOVED IT. I still do.

There is no sense doing a song by song review, telling you how each song is incredibly awesome. Perhaps some lesser knows

For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) – We’ve all heard this song a million times. No need to say how awesome it is. Ok, just once. It’s awesome.

I Put The Finger On You – The guitar work is infectious to begin this song off, and the drumming crashes in and keeps pounding. Pound for pound Phil Rudd should be considered one of the best drummers in rock. Unfortunately his legacy is quite tarnished now, but strictly in terms of talent, he is one of the best in my eyes.

Let’s Get it Up – This song was obviously wrote about climbing a ladder. Anyone who says otherwise is crazy. Someone should have told the ladies in the video below to remove the heels and put on work boots. Oh well, live and learn.

Evil Walks – Brian’s growl mixes nicely with the boys on background here. Amazing drumming, infectious guitar, and booming bass round out the song. I love the background vocals in this one.

C.O.D. – Phil is the star for me here. His combination of ticking cymbals and pounding skins lure the listener in. The background chants are welcome on this one as well. They sort of remind me of a Kiss song. 2 minutes in the guitar work takes a wonderfully quiet tone that sounds just awesome too.

Night of The Long Knives – This song almost has a hair metal feel to it. I bet Quiet Riot, Ratt or Poison would have given anything to record a song as cool as this.

Spellbound – Quiet but wicked may be the best way to describe this one. More group chants here are a nice touch.

For those interested, here is the review from Rolling Stone Magazine from January 1982.

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/for-those-about-to-rock-we-salute-you-19820121

When I met my wife in the early 90’s, this cassette tape was one she owned. We listened to it a ton in her car. I knew she was a keeper, and I have stuck with her ever since.

10/10 all day long, 365 days a year. Happy Anniversary For Those About To Rock. Hopefully I can celebrate with you for another 35.

 

(Metallica Week) Metallica: Ride The Lightning (1984)

Amazon has yet to deliver my new Metallica album so I will continue on with a daily Metallica post. There may be a few twists and turns, and a few sort of Metallica but not really aspects, but on this cold day I thought an old school Metallica album review would warm you up.

Fight Fire With Fire – Ok. This one is a stumper. It’s like the riddle about what came first, the chicken or the egg. What I am referring to is the guitar work at the start of this song. Which came first, this song or The Last In Line by Dio. The guitar work sounds so similar, and both albums came out in July 1984. The Dio album was released a few weeks before Ride The Lightning, but I am more interested in which band recorded first, and even more so, did they get to hear recording demos from the other. Who knows. Maybe both bands were listening to No Woman No Cry and decided to start a metal song that starts off in that style. Either way, we as fans get treated to 2 great songs. They both start off slow, then we either get blasted by thrashing, balls out, cranked up to 11 guitars or Ronnie James Dio’s wicked vocals “We are coming HOME!!!!!!!!!!”  For as melodic as the song is, James’ vocals seem a bit choppy with a bunch of stops and starts. Lars does a pretty damn fine job of drumming here. Fast and precise.

Ride The Lightning – The guitar work has a Judas Priest sound to it. The drum work here is good, but sounds a bit muffled at times. James sings in a higher tone and does his best Rob Halford impression. I can bet they don’t do this song in concert anymore. There is no way James can even come close to hitting those notes now. His voice is way deeper and much more growly now. I can bet this song was mistaken as a Judas Priest song back in the day, which in my books means it’s pretty good.

For Whom The Bell Tolls – This song joins exclusive company as an amazing song with bells chiming off in it. Hells Bells, Black Sabbath, Hallowed Be Thy Name and this one. Top 4 right there. No need to try and search any others. There are these 4 and all the rest. Kind of like the members of the Jamaican relay team vs. everyone else. No competition. This song has amazing guitar, drums, bass and vocals. Also technically this song is amazing. The intricacies of the song are amazing. Oh, and did I mention how awesome the guitar is?

Fade To Black – Pretty tough to follow a near perfect song. How would Metallica do it? The only way they could follow it properly would be to record another near perfect song next. They have done that here. The mellow acoustic guitar mixed with quiet but piercing electric guitar sounds amazing. The acoustic guitar in the middle is the best Metallica have ever laid down onto tape. The mix of soft and hard in this song is equivalent to going on a date with 2 women on the same night, without either knowing of the other. In one side of the bar, a soft spoken blonde that speaks eloquently, and is a great person that likes quiet nights in, documentaries and jazz. On the other side is a fiery redhead all dressed in leather. “She likes concert blisters, and leather boots. And knows one fact, her act is to get loose.” My dating days are long over, and even if they weren’t I don’t think I’d want those 2 women to find out about each other. Fade to black indeed.

Trapped Under Ice – The guitar work has a real 80’s feel to it.  I do not mean this in a bad way, as I love 80’s metal. This song comes after 2 near perfect songs in a row. It is not near perfect, but pretty damn good in its own right.

Escape – The beat in this song remind me of Enter Sandman. I wonder if the band were listening to this groove as they recorded the Black Album. It has a harder edge than Sandman, and James’ voice has more of a bite.

Creeping Death – Great drumming begin this one off. The early guitar work reminds me of possibly my favourite Ted Nugent songs, Dog Eat Dog. It wouldn’t be the first time a metal band borrowed from a classic rock band, and won’t be the last. Later on the thrash style rears its wicked head. James’ voice is in peak form here. I can bet if he were blessed with 3 wishes, that one would be to get this sound back.

The Call Of Ktulu – More acoustic guitar begin this one off nicely. After a minute Cliff Burton joins in with his unmistakable bass tone. Then all hell breaks loose. Kirk wails, Cliff booms and Lars pounds (that’s what she said) all while James goes and gets himself a beer. It may be kind of risky to end an album on an instrumental song, but Metallica are no mere mortals. This is a killer song.

I didn’t mention Cliff as much during this review. That wasn’t a slight on purpose. He is just always there on this album. For me to say Cliff was awesome here, and wicked there would be like telling you the sky is blue and the grass green. He will always be considered one of the best bassists in metal, and some may consider him right up there with the best of any genre. Look up the list of the best Cliff Burton songs ever and there are a bunch from this album.

The album is killer and no filler. Not a bad song in the bunch. A few songs better than the rest, nut only because they are right up there with the best of all time.

10/10

 

(Metallica Week) 6 Part Album Review: Metallica – Garage Inc. (2011 Remastered 6 LP, 45 RPM Deluxe Edition Boxset – Album # 6, Motorheadache ’95)

Ok. Last record in the set. I popped the record on the turntable and noticed it has a pretty bad warp. Brand new record. 180g special edition. All the other records were flat. That is weird. I drop the needle and it sounds fine though thankfully.

The four songs on this album were originally released on the Hero Of The Day single. There were 2 versions released of the single. One had the first 2 songs here, and the second had the last 2 songs. These songs were recorded live to a two track at Plant Studios during rehearsals for Lemmy’s  50th Birthday Party. The songs sound pretty damn good in my opinion if they were demos recorded live to two track. No separate recording os drums, guitars, vocals etc. like an a studio album. They got the band in the studio, let them play, and push record.

Overkill – I know the drumming is going to be a challenge on this one for Lars. Unbelievably he does a pretty damn good job here. James alters his voice to sound more like Lemmy. Robert is allowed to shine with the bass a bit here, and Kirk absolutely rips on guitar.

Damage Case – The guitar almost has a fuzzy sound to it. I like it. James’ voice is less Lemmy here, and more Metalligrowl. Lars does another nice job on the drumming, and Robert gets to feature his bass more so than on later albums. He also has a brief bass solo. It may be the only one I can remember him doing in a Metallica song. Kirk does an amazing job. The tone is less fuzzy during his solo, and more thrash meets NWOBHM. Another really good song here.

Stone Dead Forever – Robert gets to shine yet again. His bass is on fire in this song. Lars is doing a great job here. I am suspecting Lemmy promised to kick his ass if he didn’t (Part of me wishes that Lars had done a shit job). The guitar has a little fuzz that I love. The bass and guitar tones are unique on this song. I don’t think I have ever heard them before on any Metallica songs. I would love to know the gear they used to record these 4 songs. I am guessing they were exclusive to these songs.

Too Late Too Late – Great guitar work begin this song off. It has an early 70’s feel to it. Lars does another pretty decent job here. The song has a good energy and all of the members honour Lemmy with great performances.

For fans of fuzzy guitars, 70’s riffs, Motorhead, Metallica and Lemmy.

9.5/10