1983 “WHIPLASH” from KILL ‘EM ALL
Back in 1981, four guys from San Fransisco shared their love of 70’s hard rock and thrash metal and formed Metallica. Lars Ulrich was the leader and posted an ad in a newspaper that caught James Hetfield’s attention. Along with guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassist Cliff Burton, they released a demo called No Life ‘Til Leather. Soon afterwards Mustaine was kicked out and formed Megadeth and Kirk Hammett became the new lead guitarist. Six of those demo songs made their way to Metallica’s debut, Kill ‘Em All. “Hit The Lights” and “The Four Horsemen” were the first two tracks, a one-two punch of thrash metal. My favorite track is “Whiplash”, a speed metal classic that is the perfect song to introduce to people to the early Metallica sound.
1984 “FADE TO BLACK” from RIDE THE LIGHTNING
Kerrang! Magazine lauded their second album for its “maturity and musical intelligence”. Unlike some hard rock bands, Metallica’s sound was intricate, complex, and despite the raw sound were very technically superior records. A mistake was made during pressing and if you can ever find a green copy of the album (pictured here) buy it! It’s worth a LOT of money to collectors. “For Whom The Bell Tolls” is metal perfection but my favorite is “Fade To Black” their first power ballad. Unlike the other 80’s love song ballads, this song discussed contemplating suicide and thinking about our mortality, lyrics par for the course from a band that didn’t want to sell-out (yet?).
1986 “MASTER OF PUPPETS” from MASTER OF PUPPETS
After the release of this album, bassist Cliff Burton tragically died when their tour bus flipped over in Sweden. His last album with Metallica has been listed by most music journalists as one of the best metal albums of all-time and clearly the most influential thrash metal album ever. Metallica did not release any videos despite MTV and label pressure. One writer said, “they didn’t bother with hooks or melody”, it wasn’t an album to promote singles. “Master Of Puppets”opens with Battery, my favorite song and it’s on another blog. The title track is the most played song ever on their concert setlist. That chant of “Master! Master!” is unforgettable. The lyrics are about Kirk’s cocaine addiction problems, but it’s also one of his greatest moments as Total Guitar magazine credits the solo in Master Of Puppets as #1 all-time.
DAILY MUSIC TRIVIA: James Hetfield’s lyrics were often inspired by his family’s strict religious background. What religion were James’ parents?
1987 “HELPLESS” from $5.98 EP- GARAGE DAYS REVISTED
Cliff Burton’s death opened a vital spot in the band’s lineup. Jason Newsted from Flotsam and Jetsum was inducted into the band. The band describe the hazing and how Jason was always “the new guy” even though he was with the band for sixteen years! The band released a five song EP of covers by 70’s British metal bands like The Misfits (Last Caress), Killing Joke (The Wait), and my favorite, Helpless, a Diamond Head cover. Like the CD’s title, the sound is garage rock mixed with some speed metal. Helpless is a song about getting on stage and giving it everything you’ve got.
1988 “ONE” from …AND JUSTICE FOR ALL
Metallica was now a critic’s darling, arena headliner, and ready for major success. “And Justice For All” was their biggest selling CD of the 80’s complete with a cover of the Statue of Liberty all tied up. The album wasn’t commercial with overt political themes and lengthy tracks. There were only nine songs and seven of these were over six minutes long. The title track and “To Live Is To Die” were almost ten minutes EACH! The crown jewel of the album is “One”. Opening with the sound of helicopters, gunfire, and a buildup to Kirk Hammett’s greatest guitar solo. You all know the solo – a machine gun blast of metal history. The song creeped into the Top 40 and Metallica made their first MTV video. Of course the video was metal, showcasing a B&W 50’s movie, called Johnny Got His Gun, about a severely injured soldier who had no sense of sight, sound, or touch. Guitar World calls the guitar solo, #1 All-Time.