Thrash

MONDAY MUSIC - METALLICA

There’s no doubt Metallica is and will be one of the biggest bands to ever be. They’ve changed music in the way Led Zeppelin did in the 1970’s, in other words, redefined music. Along with a handful of other bands in the early 80’s they formed the thrash genre and are without question the band almost every human with an interest in music is aware of.

That said, they’ve never really been my favorite thrash / heavy band. I’ve always liked them and consider “Master of Puppets” the album that changed everything. I listen to that and “Ride the Lightning” on a regular basis, two insanely great albums. But I never dug much of anything they did after that. I should say I never liked any complete albums after “Master”. They are way too talented not to have tunes that I like from various albums.

Somehow to me, they lost something after original bassist Cliff Burton died in a tragic bus accident (no offense to Jason Newsted, his replacement who I like a lot). In my view, the main songwriters James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, got way too serious about themselves and micromanaged the music to the point they couldn’t make a cohesive project. Certainly, “And Justice for All”, the first album with Newsted was cohesive but produced so badly I could never stand it. Similarly, the songs were so self conscious I found it hard to enjoy. I’ve tried many times over the years and have softened a little on it but still think it’s not the great album it’s made out to be. What the fuck do I know though?

After seeing the documentary “Some Kind of Monster” which was a really bad decision to film as the band struggled to stay together after Newsted quits and Hetfield goes to rehab while trying to record a new album, which would become “St. Anger”. It’s the least rock n roll movie ever and shows the band for what they’ve become, a soulless band comprised of guys who are disconnected from each other, rich beyond their wildest dreams and not into what they’re doing. With it’s goofy happy ending I never thought I’d check out anything new by these guys ever again.

Which brings me to “Hardwired to Self Destruct”, their last studio album from 2016. I vaguely recall hearing about it’s release and paid no attention to it. Then the other day it popped up on my YouTube suggestions and I figured what the hell, I’ll give it a listen. I was definitely surprised to say the least. It’s a really good fucking album! The best thing they’ve done in years and years. The album flows well, it’s loose, heavy, and unpretentious. You get the feeling that they actually enjoyed making this record. There’s a kind of fun vibe that shines through.

I’m happy for them to have a solid album out again (*me more than two years after it’s release). I’ve watched a lot of interviews with Hetfield over the past couple of years and he definitely seems like he’s mellowed and is an interesting guy to listen to. Not that you have to personally like artists to enjoy their work, but in this case I get the feeling his state of mind translated into a really good, back to basics, solid piece of work.

FV

 

MONDAY MUSIC - MEGADETH

Back in the early 80’s Megadeth’s main guy Dave Mustaine was part of Metallica. They kicked him out of the band for being too drunk or too drugged, pretty unceremoniously. Mustaine got his head together enough to form Megadeth with Chris Poland (guitar), Dave Ellefson (bass) and Gar Samuelson (drums). This album was their first release. A classic in my book.

Metallica certainly went on to bigger fame and fortune overall but I think Mustaine really captured the thrash element that was emerging at that time. Megadeth’s catalog went on to include quite a few classic albums with various incarnations of the band. All pushed very complicated guitar riffs, insane solos and in my opinion have a better legacy than Metallica.

This album hints at what’s to come in the future for them. Somewhat jazzy, very heavy, cool guitar work and a lot of rebellious attitude. I think Mustaine was always fighting to prove he was better than Metallica and while it really wasn’t needed, maybe it did drive him to have a great career.

Don’t get me wrong, back in those days I was a fan of both bands. But after Metallica released “Master of Puppets” it went downhill for me. I wasn’t a fan of any other album. I liked some songs from various albums they made, but never as a whole package. Losing Cliff Burton in that tragic bus accident affected those guys, especially when they were just getting monumentally huge. I think his death sapped some of the soul out of the band so much that they really never recovered musically.

Megadeth however went on to create a good number of albums that work as a whole. They kept the thrash yet evolved, lyrically were more consistent and just were more consistent overall. They’ve had their share of ups and downs with drugs and what not but every time I saw them live they kicked ass, The last time I saw them was about 10 years ago and they were fantastic.

If you’ve never heard the band, there’s no better start than the beginning with Megadeth. They go from great to legendary. I’ll always consider them superior to Metallica though the argument is old and tired, and has been for years. But, I still run into people who wanna (almost always in good fun) have the argument. Megadeth, hands down.

FV