With each and every release Metallica piss on whatever legacy there once was. It used to be that everything up to (and including) the stadium-filling “Black Album” was okay. Some fans baulked on that album – but you know that deep down they still dug Enter Sandman, even if it was just for one summer. Since then it’s been a lot harder to like Metallica. But, like any dinosaur act – which they are now; have been for some time – you tend to justify an enthusiasm for them based on the live shows. The new albums might not mean a lot but the chance to see them tear out the old hits and just the one or two tolerable new songs is usually a good-enough deal.
Not so now with Metallica. They used that credit up after the Load (and Reload) album/s.
Since then the band has been an embarrassment. And the talk of Death Magnetic being a return to roots was largely that – talk.
Lars’ shitty drum sound is now simply a joke. The band exchanged one bad bassist for another – two different ends of the bad-playing spectrum now ticked off; covered.
And I firmly believe that whatever was left of the band’s credibility took a hammering with the Lou Reed collaboration album, Lulu.
Here’s the deal on that – Lou took the hammering at the time; death threats, etc. But that’s what Lou does (and does well). He feeds off that. He wants loads of people to hate him. Our hate makes Lou stronger. He just might return with a great album again – the way he has done after just about any beatdown. If he doesn’t then the hate will keep him alive at any rate.
On Lulu he has weathered that storm already – the album’s songs sound a lot better on Lou’s tour with Lou’s band. And he’s smart to not be too indulgent with it in his set. Lulu was terrible. But Lou knows terrible. And he does it, well, well I guess….Lulu was all kinds of awful but so was The Raven. He’s done terrible before and he’ll do terrible again.
So the thing that made Lulu so awful was Metallica. And they will have to do a lot to get past that. Lulu showed the world what a lot of people have figured for a long time – Metallica simply are not very good.
So it’s going to take a lot more than releasing a live DVD from the previous tour as a cover-up to forget about the pain of Lulu. And when it comes on the back of another largely horrific album (Death Magnetic) which was a follow up to some (at the time) new nadir (St. Anger) it’s not really offering a lot; not really saying much.
Here James Hetfield growls and mugs and Lars’ kick-drum still sounds like someone spitting on a wet shoebox and the gargoyle-bassist still looks like he wishes he was in Suicidal Tendencies once again and sounds like he belongs in a terrible, terrible Faith No More tribute act. And Kirk’s guitar is so thin and screechy and the widdly-widdly stuff lacks any form of conviction, it’s just dribbled out to ooze over the songs. Fading away instantly. There’s no stick to it.
Then there’s all the post-Load material; a load of shit really. Not a decent song in 15 years. And the Black Album stalwarts – like Enter Sandman – sound so paint-by-numbers now (if they didn’t always). And then there’s the keen effort to remind people of the Seek & Destroy-type sound. And it sounds like old men trying to sound (vaguely) like young men. And there’s no grit and too much grunt and no soul and very little heart.
Metallica’s explosion to the stadium level was a bit like when pro-wrestling hit the pay dirt bigtime in the 1980s. And on into the 1990s. And Metallica touring now, polishing turds as best they can, is a bit like a pro-wrestler back in the school gym on weekends, mugging and tough-talking and shadowing the moves of his former glory. All the while with a beergut, crippling mortgage payments and a late shift to work after the match, black eye or otherwise. So serious in a game that was always so silly.
Metallica still has the money of course – and product like this will see that revenue stream continue. But they’ve never been more awful, more unnecessary and brutally, shamefully, woefully boring.
Metal shouldn’t be boring. It can be awful – but there should still be the feeling of dynamite (and dynamics) behind it. This is turgid and plodding and all but phoned in.
It was hard – so very hard – to sit through. I sure hope you don’t have to. And you do of course have that choice.