The $5.98 EP was the result of the fact that Jason Newsted had just joined the band, and they were having a hard time coming up with new material. The record company wanted a release before the performance at Monsters Of Rock at Castle Donnington, so the band felt a covers album would be the only way to make this happen.
Helpless – Sorry Neil Young fans, this is not a cover of the CSNY classic. This is another remake of a Diamond Head song. The original is almost a punk/NWOBHM song. It has no guitar solo, and has a fast energy like a punk song. Back in ’87 James’ voice was much more suited to this song, but is still much deeper than the original. This song also allows Jason to stand out a bit in the middle portion by cranking up his bass, and it stands out nicely. Also, the guitar work in the middle of the song also sounds more Black Sabbath than Diamond Head/Metallica to me. As well, since Metallica is a thrash metal band, Kirk must throw in a guitar solo that the original song does not have. The first few times I heard this cover, I kind of wrote it off. However, the more I listen the more I like it. A good effort here.
The Small Hours – A remake of an early song by Scottish NWOBHM band Holocaust. The original is very sludgy and doomy. It is a great song to feature the bottom end. Deep and slow. Metallica plays it faster, and in a slightly higher pitch. The guitar work and bass are great, however, the drums pound too loud (or are too crisp, they just do not suit this song) and James’ voice does not suit this style of music. Metallica do a good job here, but compared to the original, it is a point or two off the mark.
The Wait – Killing Joke was a lesser known, but influential band. They were classified as Post Punk but also were industrial metal and symphonic metal pioneers. This song from their first album leaned more on the punk side, as their early music did. James Hetfield considers the lead singer, Jaz Coleman one of his favourite singers. I found my head bobbing as I listened to this. The vocals were kind of weird. It sounds like some filtering effects were applied to James’ voice. The drumming was precise, and the guitar work was hard and awesome. This is another of Lars’ best drumming performances. Jason’s bass seems to get louder near the end of the song.
Crash Course In Brain Surgery – Budgie is such an underrated band. They should have been so much bigger. They were virtually unknown in North America. The Welsh band was one of the first heavy metal bands, and probably got a few new fans when Metallica covered this song. Metallica focus more on the bass than the original did. Wow is Jason’s bass ever prominent in this song. At times it almost has a Les Claypool feel to it. Amazing guitar work, and wonderful solos. James sings this one in an awesome, angry kind of way. The only quibble I have is that Lars has kind of a ticking noise from his drums. It is quite annoying. It really takes away from the rest of the song.
Last Caress/Green Hell -Glenn Danzig wrote these songs before the Misfits disbanded in 1983. As for the Metallica cover, this is more like it. A punk song on this album that sounds like a punk song. Fast, frantic and angry just like a punk song should be. A bit more of the Lars ticking noise but mostly these songs are pretty awesome. Green Hell almost sounds like a very fast version of Through The Never. I can almost bet they slowed this song down as a reference point when they were recording the Black Album. Another note is the hidden track at the end in which they do a piss poor, short rendition of Run To The Hills. Most of the songs on this disc have something tacked onto the end such as this, or laughing etc. All could have been left off in my opinion.
Lastly before I go, Metallica was on The Tonight Show the other night and they, along with Jimmy Fallon and The Roots did a cover version of Enter Sandman on classroom instruments. So here you go.