Review Summary: The Metal Gods That Failed
Metallica was THE thrash metal act to beat back in the 80s, the only band that may have beat them as far as raw talent was fellow bay area thrashers Slayer - but Metallica always held the edge in fans.
But with the 90s came the end of the band's domination. That was marked clearly with the release of "The Black Album."
Who doesn't remember the breakneck pace and lyrical genius of Master of Puppets? Or the slower paced, but even more powerful ...And Justice For All? The Black album was a huge leap backwards for the band in songwriting. And it seemed that Hetfield had misplaced his balls.
Where Puppets and Justice dealt with mature and thought-provoking issues including drug abuse, religion, and injustice, "Black" has Hetfield rambling on about issues like putting your kids to bed, being a wolf and science and technology. Huh? The only two songs on this entire thing I could listen to without cringing were "Sad But True" and "Holier Than Thou." The latter is the closest we would ever see Metallica come back to their thrash metal roots.
The rest of the album is simply a travesty. Lyrics are laugh-out-loud absurd. The guitar riffs have no real power behind the overpowered bass in them. Drums are too loud and have that annoying echo effect everyone and their mother were so fond of in the 80s. And Kirk mangles every solo because he's standing on a waah pedal.
The decision to go with Bob Rock. The absence from the studio, the yet to be acceptance of Jason Newstead as the replacement bassist. Boy things were never going to be the same again.
This was probably the ultimate turning point for this band in changing direction. It's just that for the vast majority of fans who followed the band didn't expect that change to be so drastic.The "black album" as it is called, is a heavily produced and slick sounding recording. It sounds fantastic but the band dropped longer complicated metal patterns and meaningful lyrics, for shorter songs, simpler catchy riffs, and two obvious ballads.
You either favored this change, or hated it. In the end I somewhere fell in between in this album mostly leaning to the disappointing side because it lacks a huge amount of creativity in song writing and musical chops that Metallica was so famous for displaying.
It is definitely one of those albums I have had that sits in my collection and gathers dust. If I ever find a use for the CD for anything besides a beer coaster I'll let you know. If any other band had made this album it would have been VERY impressive, but the reality is it was done by the founding fathers of modern metal, who just seemed to be throwing all of their uniqueness out the window.
In the end other bands came in and filled that void and still do, and I can't remember the last time I pulled out a Metallica album to listen to in a VERY VERY long time. And when I do pull out a Metallica album to listen to, it sure wont be this one.