Wednesday, September 17, 2008
My Two Cents...
Everyone else is chiming in (I’m surprised that McCain and Obama haven’t put out statements), so I might as well do the same. Yeah, I was 14/ 15 years old in ’82 and ’83 when “Kill ‘Em All” hit the streets; yeah, I was the first kid in my high school to have a vinyl copy of the album, which I clutched as if it were some precious heirloom; yeah, the relationship only blossomed with “Ride The Lightning” and “Master Of Puppets”; yeah, I felt the pain of Burton’s untimely death (had he lived, I’m convinced that Metallica would be a very different band today), was mildly let down by “… And Justice For All”, and all my fears of sell-out were realized with “Metallica”, etc, etc, ad nauseum.
Fast forward to ‘08 and I haven’t seriously paid attention to Metallica since ’91 or so. I’m sort of proud to say that I’ve not heard one song off of “St. Anger”, and I intend to keep it that way. However, you couldn’t have avoided hearing through the grapevine about the supposed return to form, an album that will hark back to the ‘80s, an album that should’ve been made after “Justice”, and so on about “Death Magnetic”. I guess deep down, like a lot of us in my age bracket, we all sort of hoped that there was a chance that the last 17 years were some sort of bizarre experiment perpetrated by Ulrich and Hetfield, and the band really never forgot their roots. Yeah, most of you will say “get over it, get a life, asshole” or some such, but that’s the way a lot of old timers feel.
At any rate, like a lot of others, I’m underwhelmed by the album, which mostly comes across as a mediocre, sort of average thrash metal album which just sounds tired (probably, in part, due to a surprisingly bland production courtesy of one that we wouldn’t have suspected it from). Yes, there are some good riffs, one or two pretty good songs, some bursts of speed and so on, but the passion and post-adolescent rage that fueled the band’s first three full-lengths is dead and buried, only to be replaced by the encroachment and complacency of middle age. If there ever was a band now content to rest on their laurels; that is, their back catalog, Metallica is that band.
I’m revealing my inner geek here, but, as I’ve listened to the album over the last couple of days, I can’t help but compare this album to the Star Wars prequels. Thirty and forty somethings, do you recall the sheer excitement you felt as the release of “The Phantom Menace” approached, only to nervously glance at each other with apprehension as you left the theater after seeing that movie? “Death Magnetic” feels the same way. Hetfield and Ulrich have become George Lucas.
I’ll end up continuing to listen to “Death Magnetic” for the next few weeks, and, you may be surprised to hear, I’ve bought a ticket for Metallica’s show at The Forum for December 18th (Cosmo will laugh uproariously, but my feeble excuse is that I want to see The Sword; yeah, I picked a lousy way of doing so). But, whatever excitement I felt is fading (hoping against hope to recapture the feeling of a 14 year old). To me, the experience is the same as buying the prequel trilogy in widescreen, only to watch it once in a great while. I’ll stick to the original trilogy if you know what I mean.