Review Summary: A complete step back for a band who wouldn't recover for a long time
As the most successful band in heavy metal, it would be fair to say that almost everyone browsing this site has at some point heard of Metallica. From their not-so-humble roots as arguably the first thrash metal band to their evolution into a juggernaut artist who's sales rose beyond all rational expectations and is only matched by their notoriety within a scene they pioneered following the release of thrash comeback album Death Magnetic. Opinions on their early works are almost always full of praise whilst the period from their eponymous album onward is more frequently debated and far more controversial. To some, the band merely morphed to adapt to the change in the wind of the music market brought about by the grunge even, whilst others, including myself, feel they shot themselves in the arm and that their self-titled fifth album was the start of their downfall.
In place of the torrents of riffs and thunderous roars from vocalist James Hetfield, this release makes use of samey song structures and repetition of musical ideas in ways that would make fans of their previous albums cringe. Whilst ...And Justice For All shied away from the ever flowing stream of creativity, it at least had enough depth to maintain its credibility and was actually a really great foray into a more.progressive style of thrash but was weighed down a little too much by the proposterous song lengths. Here, the band cut the lengths of the tracks right down but made numerous monotonous songs that really go nowhere and as such the good tracks here are diamonds in the rough. Of all the numbers Metallica crammed onto this album, only four are actually any good. Enter Sandman is wildly addictive if somewhat overplayed, with a cracking solo and a chorus that truly is unforgettable. Meanwhile, Sad But True goes for the throat with one of the best riffs on the album, and Holier Than Though and Of Wolf And Man mark the final death rattle of their thrash days, utilizing some killer riffs and angry drumming.
Unfortunately, the rest of the album is a mismatch that seldom rises above the boring reputation it sets itself by the halfway mark. Nothing Else Matters and Unforgiven were two interesting ideas executed very poorly, the latter spawning a string of sequels, whilst Don't Tread On Me shows a passionate hatred for listenable riffs. This track really defines "poor", with a veal attempt at a catchy chorus and sole really bad vocals in the verse. The latter half of Metallica's eponymous album scarcely qualifies as anything more than boredom on tape, with The God That Failed also dropping the ball. The majority of the tracks repeat themselves far too much and just do not maintain the standards and live up to the expectations left behind by their past works. The drumming is insipid and the riffs are a hit and miss bunch, whilst most the solos that Kirk breaks out feel like rehashes of each other even more than the wah pedal fetish he showed on previous releases.
Overall, Metallica showed a complete lack of creativity with their simplistic and uninspired fifth album. This spelled the death of any quality the band could boast until their latest release. Many may disagree, but this album is scarcely worth the time for one listen.