Review Summary: Truly a 'Best Of'.
Show me a metal fanatic that says that haven't heard of Metallica, and I can show you one that's lying. Metallica is insanely popular. Their metal albums are some of the most influential of all time, and are definitely the true definition of thrash metal. In 1986, to universal acclaim, came Master of Puppets, which is also regarded as the best metal album of all time, which helped earned the band's now dizzying popularity. Let's be honest, though: critics are a bitch. Many people thought that after their first five albums, Metallica completely went over the deep end, they finally kicked the bucket, starting with Load and its less tolerable companion Reload. Metallica's still incredible at large, so they released this.
Personally, I do tend to wander towards the critics' camp. It seems that Metallica doesn't hold the true groundbreaking material that they did with albums like Kill 'Em All and Ride the Lightning. In the 90's, it was good to be a metal band. Such examples were Gamma Ray, Edguy, Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest. Every decade has their own generation. For the 80's, it was J-Rock and Hard Rock. 70's were casual rock and roll. Today, it's pop and rap. 90's was the metal generation (well, maybe until Radiohead's OK Computer, but that's another story), and it showed. This 11-track compilation features music from their first five albums, arguably the time when there wasn't a person who didn't listen to them.
The album kicks off with the 7-minute mini-epic The Four Horsemen from Kill 'Em All
(historical note: which would later become the single from Megadeth: The Mechanix). This has major differences, though. The Four Horsemen features a more melodic tempo, and a chugging guitar riff. The midtempo guitar solo in Four Horsemen is also one of the best Metallica's ever done, and is one of the strongest tracks. (historical note #2: Four Horsemen was originally a band demo, and it was newly remastered and mixed for the Kill 'Em All official release)
Seek and Destroy
has become a common fan favorite for Metallica listeners. From the brilliant interlude to the song, then transforming into the famous riff beat to the crushing guitar solo, it's easy to see why metalheads have really gotten into it. (Historical note: Seek and Destroy is played at every Metallica concert, and is also the only song on Kill 'Em All recorded in a studio)
The album then goes into the album that helped gain them fan success (whereas Kill 'Em All was an underground smash hit), Ride the Lighting. It kicks off with For Whom The Bell Tolls
. Now, I know most Metallica fans are going to rage at me, but I really don't see what all the hype is about the song. I'm not saying it's bad at all. In fact, the crushing guitar riffs at the 2-minute intro are great, but everything else seems a little less... groundbreaking than what I expected. It just feels very overrated. (Though, I'm starting to believe that their self-titled album's slowly becoming the most overrated album of all time)
Next up comes one of the biggest cult hits in metal today, Creeping Death. This song refers to the plague brought to the Egyptians from The Ten Commandments, where any house that was not painted with lamb blood would have their first born killed. (Historical note: Inspiration came from Burton watching the actual film, and something he said "It's like creeping death" inspired the song) Everything about the song urges metal, though. The famous intro "dun dun dun dun DUN", to the realistic songwriting, and a violent guitar solo that any guitarist should know. (Historical note #2: The middle section of Creeping Death was originally written by Kirk Hammet whilst he was in Exodus.)
Next up comes either the most disappointing part of the album, or the strangest part, their smash hit Master of Puppets album comes up, but it features only the title track and a less pleasing track. Strange, considering that Orion is the single greatest instrumental since Van Halen's Eruption, and Battery is constantly played on tours and at concerts. Anyways, the title track (Try and guess what it is) is still very strong, containing a catchy chorus (serious, listen to it a couple times and you can't get it out of your head), and a progressing, melodic guitar solo. It feels like it ended too abruptly, though.
, the second MOP track, is less tolerable in every sense of the word. The lyrics feel, sound, and more than are written more strange than "Whiplash" ever was. The intro isn't bad, however, with an acoustic-sounding melody added, though don't expect it to top "Battery" or "Fade to Black" anytime soon.
Next up comes two tracks from ...And Justice For All. I'll be honest: out of the five albums included here, ...And Justice For All is one of the weakest (though I'd prefer this over St. Anger any day), so I'm glad they included the some of the best tracks on there. (I swear if To Live Is To Die is played again..) One
is probably the strongest track on the album, maybe one of the best on this compilation. Much like other songs on Justice For All, One starts off very slow, with a memorable guitar and acoustic intro, with a smooth bass and a calming voice from Hetfield, but as it progresses, it becomes heavier, to the point where it becomes so heavy that it throbs the skull. (Historical notes: One became the first Metallica music video, much to fans' disapproval, and this is based off novel "Johnny Got His Gun".)
"Harvester of Sorrow" is another strong track. A familiar intro kicks it off, followed by shady, crushing brief guitar riffs, and as the main riff progresses, lyrics come in, few at a time. The ending guitar solo is also very good, containing some strong guitar blasts and progression.
Of course, here comes the song that gave Metallica universal popularity, "Enter Sandman". One word: Overrated. Honestly, Enter Sandman is a decent song. The intro, as with most Metallica songs, is fairly average, and I really like the lyrics about the dreams and all, but I don't see the incredible success that this single set. At all.
is a little better. I personally love the bass intro, despite the absence of Cliff Burton due to the damned bus driver, and the songwriting is particularly strong (Metallica's self-titled album, despite being overrated, is personally their most lyrically impressive album since Ride the Lightning), and I enjoy the drum beats that squeeze their way in.
Finally comes the underrated track ...And Justice For All
(Historical note: This song was almost never played at concerts until the World Magnetic tour). It speaks out about social injustice. Personally, ...And Justice For All was one of the best on the album, and I don't exactly see how the world grabbed on to the potential that song has. Kirk himself even said that they never played it because he felt the crowd found it boring.
Overall, though, Heavy Best is definitely a 'Best Of' album. If you want to see, in chronological order, before the band's demise, just how glorious everyone considered them to be, then the 'Heavy Best' album is definitely a pick-up.
The Kill 'Em All tracks
Master of Puppets