Blackened

REVIEW: Metallica – “Lords of Summer” vinyl & download singles (2014)

img_20161120_080611METALLICA  – “Lords of Summer” (2014 Blackened Record Store Day single, additional download versions)

This past Friday, Metallica ended the eight-year long wait for a new album and put out the sharp-edged Hardwired…To Self-Destruct.  If you go for the deluxe edition (a measly $16!) then you’ll get the full 78 minute studio album and a bonus CD (to be reviewed later) with another 14 tracks.  That’s another 79 minutes of metal for a grand total of $16.  The value is insane.

Cast your minds back to 2014.  Metallica, embarking on a summer tour, released a new single called “Lords of Summer”.  The concept of “Lords of Summer” was pretty simple.  It’s a song about touring season, and it was one of the new pieces of music that the band were working on for the next album.  Ultimately, a slightly shorter and re-recorded “Lords of Summer” was included on the bonus CD for Hardwired.  The vinyl single (Record Store Day, limited to 4000 copies) has the original “First Pass Version” (8:20).  This was also made available via download.  If you’re already familiar with “Lords of Summer” then this is the version you know.  The “First Pass” is not as polished as Hardwired, but similar in direction with the same focus on metal riffs and melody.  Like much of the album, “Lords of Summer” careens from riff to riff blasting away at different tempos.  While not one of Metallica’s most remarkable songs, it has some cool individual riffs cooked up within it.

For the sake of completion, we should also discuss the “Garage Demo Version” of “Lords of Summer”.  This was included as a bonus track with Metallica’s official live downloads from that tour.  It was first played in Bogota Columbia, March 16 2014.  The “Garage Demo” (also 8:20) is different recording from the “First Pass”; very similar but even rougher.  Fans familiar with Metallica’s usual demos know that they are often so rough that the lyrics are not yet in place.  This time, the song was already fully formed in its demo stage.

The Record Store Day vinyl single contained a bonus live version, recorded in Rome on July 1 2014.  By that time the band had been playing it all summer, so it’s tight.  Kirk’s solo is drowned out in the mix, but of course you can hear the drums loud and clear.  Compare this to the version in Bogota, which captures the song played live for the first time ever.  The arrangement is the same, but it’s still coming together in Bogota.  The Roman version demonstrates that practice makes perfect.  But why stop there?  There are a total of 33 different live versions available for download on Metallica’s site!

There is one last bonus, which is the etched B-side on the Record Store Day vinyl.  Admittedly it looks pretty…but it’s just an “M”.  It’s minimalist cool, but what happened?…they couldn’t afford to etch the etallica?

img_20161120_065505

For this review, we listened to the following:

  1. “First Pass Version” (8:20, available as single download or on vinyl Record Store Day single)
  2. “Garage Demo Version” (8:20, available with purchase of a concert at LiveMetallica)
  3. July 1, 2014, Rome Italy (8:48, available on vinyl Record Store Day single or for download at LiveMetallica)
  4. March 16, 2014, Bogota Columbia (9:18, available for download at LiveMetallica)

With 31 more live versions online, plus the new album version at 7:09, there are in total 36 official versions of “Lords of Summer” out there to consume.  Happy hunting.

3/5 stars

 

 

Advertisements

REVIEW: Metallica – Hardwired…To Self-Destruct (2016)

Note: This is a review of the 2CD album Hardwired…To Self-Destruct.  A review of the third bonus CD will follow at a later time.

scan_20161119-2METALLICA – Hardwired…To Self-Destruct (2016 Blackened)

The ever-polarising Metallica are back.  This time, Metallica may have finally released an album that pleases everyone.  Amazon averages are remarkably high.  Fans seem to be willing to forgive past mis-steps.  Hell, Metallica are even back on Napster in 2016!

With Hardwired…To Self-Destruct being a long musical journey, it will naturally take time to absorb.  It’s easy to imagine that you could review this album a year from now and have a whole new set of thoughts to share about it.  Ultimately, Hardwired…To Self-Destruct is mostly strong throughout with few moments that drag.  It does play a tad on the long side, not even including the third bonus CD.  At 78 minutes, the album proper is actually only about as long as Load.  The difference in the listening is that Load was a very diverse album of rock stylings, but Hardwired is full-on classic sounding Metallica through its entire length.  There are a few back alleys previously unexplored, but all solidly within the realm of heavy metal.

The direction is not that dissimilar from Death Magnetic, just refined.  There are many traditional metal riffs, Maiden-esque and sweet.  You will discover several album highlights.  There is only one track, “Am I Savage?”, that hasn’t hit the mark yet.  Current contenders for favourite songs include “Hardwired“, “Atlas, Rise!”, “Now That We’re Dead” and closer “Spit Out the Bone”.  Jessie David, metal specialist at 107.5 DaveRocks, says “Murder One” is her outstanding track.  “It’s killer,” she warns.  Each listener will likely add their own to this list.  It is probable that every single track will have its fans, because none of them suck.

Many will want to know how the album is sonically — is it overdriven?  The “loudness wars” took their toll on the last album.  The best way to answer that is visually, so check out the waveform of “Hardwired” in Audacity.

hardwired

It’s pretty loud, but not quite as bad as Death Magnetic.

Hardwired…To Self-Destruct will continue to evolve in the ears of listeners as time goes on.  A provisional rating may change at any given time.  But there is no question that Metallica are still able to stir the molten iron souls of fans with great new songs and performances.  They are Metallica, and that seems unlikely to change.

4.5/5 stars

scan_20161119-3