Tag Archives: Metallica

Best Albums of 2016 – Part One

It’s that time of year again, when music bloggers go through the year’s releases and highlight the best of the year. The usual caveats apply; these are the best records of 2016 I’ve actually had the chance to hear. I only have a finite CD budget, and even though I’m a part-time music writer, not every record company sends me free promos.

We’ll start with 25 to 11. Except that they’re not ranked in any order, because that would be next to impossible.

Update Because I missed out one record by mistake, this year’s list now goes up to 26. You will have to guess which one it was yourselves.

Continue reading

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Metallica’s new single: What’s the verdict?

Return to form after the awful “Lulu”, or a warmed-up pastiche of their glory days? And are those drums really Lars, or a machine?

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Batman vs. Superman is being panned by the critics, who make it sound like it’s the tipping point where big-budget superhero films fall out of critical and public favour. What’s its rock equivalent? Yes’ “Tales from Topographic Oceans” (Self-indulgent creative overreach), ELP’s “Love Beach” (Dying gasp of a spent creative force) or Metallica and Lou Reed’s “Lulu” (Ill-conceived collaboration done for largely cynical reasons)?  Over to you…

Posted on by Tim Hall | 4 Comments

Mainstream vs Popular?

Over on Twitter, Serdar Yegulalp made the observation that “Mainstream” and “Popular” art, while they often overlap, are not the same thing. The former is that which gets widespread attention in the media, while the latter is what actually sells. This is a split that’s been apparent in rock music for years to anyone’s who’s paying attention. “Mainstream” nowadays tends to equate to “Indie”, despite that being one aesthetic of many, largely because that’s what has the greatest appeal to those who write about music in the media. So a mid-level indie act who sell modest numbers of albums and concert tickets get to play on “Later with Jools Holland” and are considered mainstream in a way the far bigger-selling Iron Maiden are not. It’s something most rock and metal fans have learned to live with, though it’s still galling to see the media gatekeepers give so much space to things like Metallica’s appallingly dreadful collaboration with Lou Reed just because Reed is fashionable with the elite tastemakers in a way no metal band can ever be. Metallica themselves never got a look in when they were in their prime.

Even more true in the book publishing world, of course, where “Literary Fiction”, that etiolated genre that pretends it’s not a genre punches way above it’s weight when it comes to critical attention. It’s also why I suspect the fight over the Hugo Awards within science fiction isn’t just a turf war between political tribes. Is there something of a Mainstream/Popular split going on too, with a disconnect between the books and stories that get media attention (and win all the awards), and the books that sell in large numbers? Do the major SF awards disproportionately reward the literary equivalent of “indie music” at the expense of other aesthetics?

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Metallica: Oasis’ part in their downfall

Today’s Guardian Music Blog clickbait is Oasis: the band that changed our lives – by Lars Ulrich

It was Oasis and the Supersonic single. Thus began a long and very rewarding relationship with a sound, an approach and a way of looking at the world that has had a huge impact on me and helped shape who I am today … for whatever that’s worth.

Yes, you read that right. Lars Ulrich has claimed Oasis changed his life in the early 90s. Let’s take a closer look at the chronology, shall we?

1) Metallica produce the groundbreaking and seminal “Ride the Lightning“, “Master of Puppets” and The Black Album.

2) Lars hears Oasis and it changes his life

3) Metallica release “Load“, “Re-Load” and “St. Anger

So, as well as setting mainstream British guitar music back 20 years, can we also add ruining one of America’s most important metal bands to the Gallagher brothers’ charge sheet?

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The much-leaked announcement that Metallica will be headlining Glastonbury has received predicably mixed reactions. There are indie kids terrified at the prospect of guitars being played loudly rather than strummed, and metal fans claiming Metallica would be wasted on Glastonbury’s audience. But while I have the greatest respect for Dom Lawson, I cannot agree with his assertion that it’s just another half-baked vanity project. If I didn’t know him better I’d have accused him of writing archetypcal Guardian clickbait.

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Metallica covering Stargazer on a Ronnie James Dio tribute album is a Thing That Should Not Be.  It should be avenged by Blackmores Night recording a hey-nonny-nonny version of Master of Puppets.

Posted on by Tim Hall | 2 Comments

Lou Reed & Metallica – Lulu

When I first heard the preview track “The View”, my first reaction was “What on Earth were Reed and Metallica thinking”? If you’re going to recite words over a rock backing, someone like William Shatner does that sort of thing far better.

Despite lyrics which have been described as sounding like the work of a 14 year old Goth, and an utterly uninspired sludge-metal backing, The View is by far the best thing on it. I have listened to the whole album all the way through (only the once, mind you), so that you don’t have to.

It’s awful.

There is no absolutely no evidence of the rhythmic inventiveness that made Metallica the genre-defining act of the 1980s on display on this record. I was tempted to say their contribution makes Load sound like Master of Puppets. But that would be most unfair on Load.  Much of what we have never rises beyond the level of formless jams which don’t deserve to be dignified by the word “song”. There’s no energy to any of it, either Hetfield’s sloppy tuneless strumming or Lars Ulrich’s appallingly half-arsed drumming.

The combination of Lou Reed’s incoherent and endless ramblings about sex and death and Urlich’s lumpen thud-thud-thud drumming is the sound of a ranting drunk at the bus stop fronting a broken cement mixer. And that’s the best bits.

I am entirely unsure as to what purpose this record serves. Is the whole thing an elaborate practical joke, and if so, at whose expense? Certainly the metal community has decided more or less unanimously decided that the emperor isn’t even trying to pretend he’s wearing any clothes here. Not being a Lou Reed fan, I have no idea if any of them will claim it a work of genius, just to be perverse.

This is a terrible record which will do nothing for the legacy of either artist.

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