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Metal - Released August 1, 1991 | Blackened Recordings - Universal Music

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
After the muddled production and ultracomplicated song structures of ...And Justice for All, Metallica decided that they had taken the progressive elements of their music as far as they could and that a simplification and streamlining of their sound was in order. While the assessment made sense from a musical standpoint, it also presented an opportunity to commercialize their music, and Metallica accomplishes both goals. The best songs are more melodic and immediate, the crushing, stripped-down grooves of "Enter Sandman," "Sad but True," and "Wherever I May Roam" sticking to traditional structures and using the same main riffs throughout; the crisp, professional production by Bob Rock adds to their accessibility. "The Unforgiven" and "Nothing Else Matters" avoid the slash-and-burn guitar riffs that had always punctuated the band's ballads; the latter is a full-fledged love song complete with string section, which works much better than might be imagined. The song- and riff-writing slips here and there, a rare occurrence for Metallica, which some longtime fans interpreted as filler next to a batch of singles calculated for commercial success. The objections were often more to the idea that Metallica was doing anything explicitly commercial, but millions more disagreed. In fact, the band's popularity exploded so much that most of their back catalog found mainstream acceptance in its own right, while other progressively inclined speed metal bands copied the move toward simplification. In retrospect, Metallica is a good, but not quite great, album, one whose best moments deservedly captured the heavy metal crown, but whose approach also foreshadowed a creative decline. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Metal - Released March 3, 1986 | Blackened Recordings - Universal Music

Distinctions Best New Reissue
Metallica, a band stronger than The Beatles? Without a doubt if you consider sound power, but in terms of remastered editions featuring “a few” bonuses, the award might also go to the Four Horsemen if you compare the “Deluxe” edition of their third album to the Fab Four’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Anniversary (Super Deluxe Edition). In it, you’ll find the equivalent of no less than ten fully-packed CDs for this Master Of Puppets that many consider, rightly or wrongly, as Metallica’s own Sgt. Pepper's. Well, it’s true that you’ll struggle finding any defect in the armour of such a monument. And its lengthy gestation period, highlighted through archives at various stages of development, will no doubt reinforce the belief that the band was touched by grace at this very moment in their history.A few rare critics begrudge this album for not having been as surprising as its two predecessors. Indeed the general structure of Master… , as well as the majority of its titles, can be compared with Ride The Lightning from the first frantic title Battery, in the same vein as Fight Fire With Fire, to the epic final of Damage Inc., wildly evoking a sped-up version of Creeping Death. There is also a false ballad halfway through, Welcome Home (Sanitarium), reusing in essence the same ingredients as Fade To Black and the finely chopped instrumental of Orion, with a very vague similarity with The Call Of Ktulu… However while this third attempt can be seen as a synthesis of the previous two, Master… is by far the most accomplished in the sense that, for the first time, Metallica had the time and means to refine and polish their compositions to the point of almost perfection. Even when compared with recent productions, the album is technically inevitable and unrivalled.In detail, the value of this remastered edition is not so much the lifting done to the original work, but rather everything else around it. Ever since Metallica’s first official live album Live Shit: Binge & Purge, we’ve been used to them not doing things halfway. But this goes beyond everything you could have imagined, even when compared with the remastered versions of Kill 'em All and Ride The Lightning. The band emptied all their drawers and sorted them out to enrich the album − in every sense of the word. First and foremost you’ll be delighted with the numerous drafts, which can certainly be recommended to aspiring musicians. The same applies to demoes, at different levels of development, and instrumental versions, which reveal numerous hidden details. You’ll probably not listen to James (and his “wananananas”) and Kirk’s personal tapes or the “writing in progress” versions recorded in Metallica’s famous “garage” over and over again, but the two highlights of these archives − The Prince, in a quite accomplished first approach to the title borrowed from Diamond Head, and the cover of Fang’s The Money Will Roll Right In, which was abandoned on the way – are both worth several listens.The colossal album only brings division among fans when discussing its ranking among Metallica’s best albums − although it would always make the podium. The new approach offered here might sway a few more votes for the first position. But beyond a well deserved and convincing highlight of the quality of Master…, this album is also the undeniable accomplishment of the Cliff Burton era. An easily discernable period in the sense that the bass was beautifully put forward. And for good reason! Far from being a simple bass player, Cliff was both a driving force in terms of creativity and inspiration as and a generous and calm character, balancing and “harmonising” the relations within Metallica. As we’ll see later, his mediating role would have more than once been useful between Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield. Some even wonder if Kirk Hammett didn’t just stop getting better after this album, without Cliff’s mental and instrumental boosts.The bass player’s role is obvious in the concerts featured in this edition with, for some of them, an exceptional sound quality. It’s also worth noting that Cliff’s very last concert is featured in this edition, at Stockholm’s Solnahallen on September 26th, 1986, a few hours before the tour bus accident that claimed his life. In this instance no one will complain about the “bootleg” quality of the recording. No matter what Jason Newsted – whose auditions and first concert with Metallica are included – brought to the table, it’s clear the band lost much more than a simple musician with Cliff Burton. The main argument of those who place Master… at the top of their ranking is precisely what …And Justice For All and the “Black Album” (Metallica) are missing: Cliff Burton, period! With the great care given to this remastered version of Master…, it is obvious that Lars, James and Kirk wanted to pay tribute to the one who brought them so much. © JPS/Qobuz
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Metal - Released September 12, 2008 | Blackened Recordings - Universal Music

Distinctions 8/10 de Volume
Call Death Magnetic Kirk Hammett's revenge. Famously browbeaten into accepting Lars Ulrich and producers Bob Rock's dictum that guitar solos were "dated" and thereby verboten for 2003's St. Anger -- a fraught recording chronicled on the 2004 documentary Some Kind of Monster -- Metallica's lead guitarist dominates this 2008 sequel, playing with an euphoric fury not heard in years, if not decades. This aesthetic shift isn't because Hammett suddenly rules the band: powerless to add solos to St. Anger, he couldn't reinstate them without the blessing of Ulrich and James Hetfield, the politburo of Metallica. The duo suffered some combination of shame and humility in the wake of the muddled St. Anger and Monster, convincing these two unmovable forces to change direction. They ditched longtime producer Rock -- who'd helmed every album since 1991's breakthrough blockbuster Metallica -- in favor of Rick Rubin, patron saint of all veteran rockers looking to reconnect with their early spark. Rubin may be the go-to producer for wayward superstars but as the producer of Slayer, he's also rooted in thrash, so he understands the core of Metallica's greatness and gently steers them back to basics on Death Magnetic. Of course, Metallica's basics are pretty complex: intertwined guitar riffs, frenetic solos, and thunderous double-bass drums stitched together as intricate seven-minute suites. Metallica slowly weaned themselves away from labyrinthine metal during the '90s, tempering their intensity, straightening out riffs, spending nearly as much time exploring detours as driving the main road, all the while losing sight of their identity. This culminated in the confused St. Anger, a transparent and botched attempt at returning to their roots, crippled by the chaos surrounding the departure of bassist Jason Newsted. With all their problems sorted out in public -- including replacing Newsted with Robert Trujillo, who acquiesces to the Metallica custom of being buried far, far in the mix -- the group embraces every gnarled, ugly thing they eschewed in the years since "Metallica." Death Magnetic bounces the band back to the days before Bob Rock, roughly sounding as if it could come after ...And Justice for All. Such a deliberate revival of the glory days can be tricky, as it could make a group seem stuck in the past -- or, just as badly, they can get essential elements wrong -- but Death Magnetic is a resounding success because they hunker down and embrace their core strengths, recognizing that their greatest asset is that nobody else makes noise in the same way as they do. That's the pleasure of Death Magnetic: hearing Metallica sound like Metallica again. Individual songs and, especially, Hetfield's lyrics -- less the confessional ballast of St. Anger, more a traditional blend of angst and terror -- are secondary to how the band sounds, how they spit, snarl, and surge, how they seem alive. Metallica isn't replicating moves they made in the '80s, they're reinvigorated by the spirit of their early years, adding shading they've learned in the '90s, whether it's the symphonic tension of "The Unforgiven III" or threading curdled blues licks through the thrash. Listening to the band play, it's hard not to thrill at Metallica's mastery of aggression and escalation. There is no denying that the band is older and settled, no longer fueled by the hunger and testosterone that made their '80s albums so gripping, but on Death Magnetic older doesn't mean less potent. Metallica is still vitally violent and on this terrific album -- a de facto comeback, even if they never really went away -- they're finally acting like they enjoy being a great rock band. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Metal - Released August 1, 1991 | Blackened Recordings - Universal Music

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After the muddled production and ultracomplicated song structures of ...And Justice for All, Metallica decided that they had taken the progressive elements of their music as far as they could and that a simplification and streamlining of their sound was in order. While the assessment made sense from a musical standpoint, it also presented an opportunity to commercialize their music, and Metallica accomplishes both goals. The best songs are more melodic and immediate, the crushing, stripped-down grooves of "Enter Sandman," "Sad but True," and "Wherever I May Roam" sticking to traditional structures and using the same main riffs throughout; the crisp, professional production by Bob Rock adds to their accessibility. "The Unforgiven" and "Nothing Else Matters" avoid the slash-and-burn guitar riffs that had always punctuated the band's ballads; the latter is a full-fledged love song complete with string section, which works much better than might be imagined. The song- and riff-writing slips here and there, a rare occurrence for Metallica, which some longtime fans interpreted as filler next to a batch of singles calculated for commercial success. The objections were often more to the idea that Metallica was doing anything explicitly commercial, but millions more disagreed. In fact, the band's popularity exploded so much that most of their back catalog found mainstream acceptance in its own right, while other progressively inclined speed metal bands copied the move toward simplification. In retrospect, Metallica is a good, but not quite great, album, one whose best moments deservedly captured the heavy metal crown, but whose approach also foreshadowed a creative decline. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Metal - Released September 10, 2021 | Blackened Recordings - Universal Music

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It would have been too easy to celebrate a Metallica birthday with a simple reissue. The band has really decided to make things special by inviting other artists to come in and have fun with their most famous album. This idea has really fired the passions of artists whose own musical upbringings were strongly influenced by this record. Rockers, DJs, folk, country, hip hop and other artists have all at one time or another gloried in some riff or chorus from this legendary beast of an album. They answered the call en masse. The result is an impressive compilation of 53 tracks. The 12 songs from the original album are each revisited several times by an amazingly diverse cast, all for a good cause (the proceeds from sales are donated to the charities supported by the artists involved in this project).From Corey Taylor to Royal Blood, via Miley Cyrus, My Morning Jacket and the Frenchmen Sebastian and Izia, everyone has their own slant, taking liberties to a greater or lesser degree, some trying to respect the original songs while others have taken a fresh approach to the 12 tracks that built a rock legend. For sure, this compilation will take a while to digest fully. But its incredible diversity makes it an album to come back to again and again, enjoying a taste of a few different morsels each time. In the end, one is almost more thrilled by the “freer” versions, like the excellent Sad But True by Jason Isbell, Holier Than Thou by Biffy Clyro, Of Wolf And Man by Goodbye, Texas or The God That Failed by Idles, which offer a new point of view. Meanwhile interpretations by the likes of Volbeat or Weezer turn out to be closer to the original versions, and therefore  less surprising. And then there are those, like Dave Gahan, whose voices will leave listeners spellbound, no matter how they decide to reinterpret these classics. We might be tempted to speak of Blacklist as a mish-mash: but really, it is a mine, because it is full of gems. This is a very fine way to celebrate a birthday. © Chief Brody/Qobuz
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Metal - Released August 28, 2020 | Blackened Recordings - Universal Music

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Who can forget the first S&M (Symphony and Metallica) released in 1999, where the Four Horsemen performed their greatest hits with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. That first performance was conducted by Michael Kamen and was praised by critics and fans alike. There was huge demand for a second performance and it finally became a reality in 2019. Led this time by Michael Tilson Thomas, the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Metallica offer a purer vision than the one Kamen chose twenty years earlier. Rather than adding on layers of brass and strings like Kamen did, Tilson Thomas truly uses the orchestra to support the Californians’ music rather than enveloping it, retaining the essence of the original pieces, which become even more intense. This is a union between two worlds and the superimposed feeling of the first S&M disappears.The grandiloquent overture The Ecstacy of Gold (Ennio Morricone) introduces the instrumental The Call of Ktulu with an almost jubilant brilliance. Metallica also ventures into more acoustic lands (the band becoming more and more inclined to revisit their pieces in different tonalities) letting James Hetfield and the orchestra transport us into almost aerial atmospheres, like on All Within My Hands. Not just in a supporting role, the San Francisco Orchestra uses Metallica for relevant and enjoyable performances of Sergei Prokofiev’s Scythian Suite (Chuzhbog and The Dance of the Dark Spirits) and The Iron Foundry Opus 19 (Alexander Mosolov). Excellent choices that manage to grab you by the throat and convey an astonishing atmosphere. (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth, an instrumental originally composed and played by the late bassist Cliff Burton, is covered by double bassist Scott Pingel, making for a real highlight of the concert.It’s a shame that Metallica chose to include some of their classics, which are less suited to this orchestral setting, as it would have perhaps provided a more logical and cohesive setlist. S&M 2 is surprising and moving but also a bit frustrating at times. The Four Horsemen seem determined to take their catalogue in unexpected directions and to please themselves and their audience at the same time. Who knows where the limit will be… © Maxime Archambaud/Qobuz
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Metal - Released March 1, 1986 | Blackened Recordings - Universal Music

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Metallica, a band stronger than The Beatles? Without a doubt if you consider sound power, but in terms of remastered editions featuring “a few” bonuses, the award might also go to the Four Horsemen if you compare the “Deluxe” edition of their third album to the Fab Four’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Anniversary (Super Deluxe Edition). In it, you’ll find the equivalent of no less than ten fully-packed CDs for this Master Of Puppets that many consider, rightly or wrongly, as Metallica’s own Sgt. Pepper's. Well, it’s true that you’ll struggle finding any defect in the armour of such a monument. And its lengthy gestation period, highlighted through archives at various stages of development, will no doubt reinforce the belief that the band was touched by grace at this very moment in their history.A few rare critics begrudge this album for not having been as surprising as its two predecessors. Indeed the general structure of Master… , as well as the majority of its titles, can be compared with Ride The Lightning from the first frantic title Battery, in the same vein as Fight Fire With Fire, to the epic final of Damage Inc., wildly evoking a sped-up version of Creeping Death. There is also a false ballad halfway through, Welcome Home (Sanitarium), reusing in essence the same ingredients as Fade To Black and the finely chopped instrumental of Orion, with a very vague similarity with The Call Of Ktulu… However while this third attempt can be seen as a synthesis of the previous two, Master… is by far the most accomplished in the sense that, for the first time, Metallica had the time and means to refine and polish their compositions to the point of almost perfection. Even when compared with recent productions, the album is technically inevitable and unrivalled.Master Of Puppets only brings division among fans when discussing its ranking among Metallica’s best albums − although it would always make the podium. The new approach offered here might sway a few more votes for the first position. But beyond a well deserved and convincing highlight of the quality of Master…, this album is also the undeniable accomplishment of the Cliff Burton era. An easily discernable period in the sense that the bass was beautifully put forward. And for good reason! Far from being a simple bass player, Cliff was both a driving force in terms of creativity and inspiration as and a generous and calm character, balancing and “harmonising” the relations within Metallica. As we’ll see later, his mediating role would have more than once been useful between Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield. Some even wonder if Kirk Hammett didn’t just stop getting better after this album, without Cliff’s mental and instrumental boosts.
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Metal - Released July 27, 1984 | Blackened Recordings - Universal Music

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After making history with their previous album Kill 'Em All, Hetfield and Ulrich’s band didn’t just sit back and relax. Metallica could be so much more, and the Californians wanted to prove it. The Four Horsemen were back just one year later in July 1984 with Ride The Lightning. Working off the foundations of Kill 'Em All, the band gave even more space to their incredible bassist Cliff Burton. Hungry for new discoveries, Burton spent hours every day listening to music from all walks of life, representing a wide range of influences. The introduction is much more melodic than expected on the first track, Fight Fire With Fire, before the decibels go wild.By then more mature, the tracks are rerouted by the work of solo guitarist Kirk Hammett, with very melodic and inspired passages, even if Satriani's pupil also knows how to bring out the big guns. Fade to Black comes to mind (a classic among the classics) which, beyond its aggressive front, manages to move into more hazy territories, offering an added value to the band's music. The Call of Ktulu, the instrumental track that concludes the album, was born from the musical voyages of Dave Mustaine (Megadeth) at the time of his short stint in Metallica. It is taken up masterfully here by Cliff Burton, who restructures the track, interweaving the epic Metallica sound with totally new melodies that are so beneficial for storytelling. Those in search of thrills won't stay on the sidelines, however, with beautiful virulent pieces like Ride the Lightning, Trapped Under Ice or the incredible and tyrannical For Whom the Bell Tolls and its introduction played on the bass with a supersaturated sound. This second must-have album is much more representative of what the band would go on to become, symbolizing their last experimentations before affirmation and greatness. © Maxime Archambaud/Qobuz
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Metal - Released September 6, 1988 | Blackened Recordings - Universal Music

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As if coming up with a worthy successor to the incomparable monument Masters Of Puppets wasn't daunting enough, Metallica had to go through the loss of Cliff Burton, who was more than just a bassist: he was a kind of spiritual and musical guide. Although they would later call on the services of a psychiatrist (see the film Some Kind Of Monster), it was when they started work on this fourth album that Lars Ulrich, James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett really needed the services of a shrink. Poor old Jason Newsted probably could have done with some help as well, coming to terms with becoming the group's whipping boy, especially on this album where he was simply "eliminated" from the mix. Although Lars and James swore that they'd never remix the bass back into ...AJFA it's clearly much more present on this remastery and on the numerous live tracks that feature on this re-release.Consciously or not, the three survivors of the tour bus accident that killed Cliff on 27 September 1986 were trying to record an album that the he would have liked. With Cliff, the group's horizons had widened, and they had become a sophisticated band whose tastes ran from Bach to the high-flying prog rock of Rush, King Crimson or Yes, from the bluesy hard rock of Thin Lizzy to the southern rock of Lynyrd Skynyrd or Allman Brothers… It's clear that Lars and James took Metallica forward in this period, but they pushed their convoluted compositions to their outer limit, with the result being that …AJFA feels like a gigantic cabinet with countless compartments and drawers. Throughout the development period of the nine tracks on this double album (which dates from the last halcyon days of vinyl), things were never easy for Kirk or Jason, which is made clear by the many offcuts and first drafts included in this re-release (running from James's first audio cassettes in 1986 all the way through to the sessions with the whole band from October 1987 to January  1988).While Cliff's shadow hangs over this album, which is surely Metallica's most "progressive" album, the group was soon to take a turn in another direction. After all, it would have been hard for them to go much further into experimental madness. The paradox is that …AJFA brought the four-piece their first "mainstream" success with One. The the cut-down version made it onto the airwaves and MTV thanks to Metallica's first ever music video. © Jean-Pierre Sabouret/Qobuz
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Metal - Released November 18, 2016 | Blackened Recordings - Universal Music

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…And Metallica ended eight years of silence! The first studio recording by the Californian gang since Death Magnetic released in 2008, Hardwired...To Self-Destruct was even a double album! The twelve tracks were essentially signed by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich (for the first time, Kirk Hammett didn't help with the writing), summarizing the multiple artistic sides of these masters of thrash metal. Indeed, this tenth album showcased everything James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo were capable of. With catchy tunes and haunting choruses, Metallica hadn't been this effective in ages, somehow going back to basics. So much so that the tracks recall their previous masterpieces, whether it's Master Of Puppets, Ride The Lightning, ...And Justice For All or the Black Album. On the solo side, Hammett revealed hallucinating sparks, which won't surprise his fans. On the mic, Hetfield's voice had matured like never before, capable of overpowering roars as well as more subtle passages. Above all, Hardwired...To Self-Destruct has some of Metallica's best songs, such as the impressive track Spit Out The Bone which closes this double album. Finally, on Murder One, the band pays homage to one of their deceased idols: Lemmy from Motörhead! © CM/Qobuz
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Metal - Released August 12, 1991 | Blackened Recordings - Universal Music

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After the muddled production and ultracomplicated song structures of ...And Justice for All, Metallica decided that they had taken the progressive elements of their music as far as they could and that a simplification and streamlining of their sound was in order. While the assessment made sense from a musical standpoint, it also presented an opportunity to commercialize their music, and Metallica accomplishes both goals. The best songs are more melodic and immediate, the crushing, stripped-down grooves of "Enter Sandman," "Sad but True," and "Wherever I May Roam" sticking to traditional structures and using the same main riffs throughout; the crisp, professional production by Bob Rock adds to their accessibility. "The Unforgiven" and "Nothing Else Matters" avoid the slash-and-burn guitar riffs that had always punctuated the band's ballads; the latter is a full-fledged love song complete with string section, which works much better than might be imagined. The song- and riff-writing slips here and there, a rare occurrence for Metallica, which some longtime fans interpreted as filler next to a batch of singles calculated for commercial success. The objections were often more to the idea that Metallica was doing anything explicitly commercial, but millions more disagreed. In fact, the band's popularity exploded so much that most of their back catalog found mainstream acceptance in its own right, while other progressively inclined speed metal bands copied the move toward simplification. In retrospect, Metallica is a good, but not quite great, album, one whose best moments deservedly captured the heavy metal crown, but whose approach also foreshadowed a creative decline. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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S&M

Metal - Released November 23, 1999 | Blackened Recordings - Universal Music

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After 1988's ...And Justice for All, Metallica pared down its progressive, heavy metal sound. During the '90s, the band's studio releases grew slicker and more produced, resulting in mostly radio-friendly, good ol' boy metal. By the end of the decade, Metallica was established as the pioneer of modern metal, but the band hadn't done anything innovative, arguably, in ten years. In April 1999, the group performed two concerts with the San Francisco Symphony, and the result was S&M, a two-disc collection of the concerts. Overall, the album successfully pairs violin strings with guitar strings, but it's no surprise that the best tracks here are the older songs; their multi-layered, compositional style works well with symphonic arrangements. "Master of Puppets," "Call of the Ktulu," "One," and "For Whom the Bell Tolls" sound richer and fuller with violin, trumpet, clarinet, harp, trombone, and flute accompaniments, but "Sad but True," "Devil's Dance," and especially "Of Wolf and Man" range from haphazard and melodramatic to uninspired. S&M definitely has its moments, and not just with the pre-Black Album material: "Fuel" surpasses the furious pumping energy of the studio version, "Hero of the Day" stays poignant throughout, and "Until It Sleeps" has a wonderfully sinister feel. James Hetfield maintains his madman persona from beginning to end, laughing maniacally and grunting and growling at all the right moments. Overall, the symphony adds a macabre, ghoulish atmosphere -- it all sounds like a Broadway freak show or a revved-up Danny Elfman nightmare. Which is exactly what a Metallica album should sound like, even if every song isn't the best (or most appropriate) in the band's catalog. © Gina Boldman /TiVo
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Metal - Released July 1, 1983 | Blackened Recordings - Universal Music

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Kill 'Em All is Metallica's debut album, and it is the cornerstone of what would be named soon after speed metal or thrash metal. Prior to July 25, 1983, no album had shown such an outpouring of energy, violence and extremes, right up to the album art. Initially entitled Metal Up Your Ass (rejected by the Megaforce label), the cover was going to feature a hand holding a dagger coming out of a toilet bowl. In the end, it featured a pool of blood with a hammer next to it and a hand trying to grab it. In both cases, the message is quite clear. The album opens with the hyper-rapid Hit the Lights, featuring a heady riff and wild bawling, with a punk touch in the execution as well as in the sound. Everything is too fast, too loud, like on Motorbreath, a song straight from hell with razor-sharp drums. The record also contains Seek and Destroy, the band's first real classic, as a tribute to the bands so loved by Lars Ulrich (drums) and James Hetfield (guitar/vocals), Diamond Head and Saxon. On steroids, of course. Kill 'Em All also has Dave Mustaine to thank, the guitarist who was fired from the band a few days before going into the studio and replaced by Kirk Hammett. The future leader of Megadeth was indeed the composer of four tracks on the album. A multitude of bands (Slayer, Exodus, Anthrax to name but a few) would follow in Metallica's footsteps after this release that would lead the Four Horsemen to the pantheon of metal. © Maxime Archambaud/Qobuz
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Metal - Released November 24, 1998 | Blackened Recordings - Universal Music

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Metal - Released August 12, 1991 | EMI

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A solid gold, even platinum, pinnacle that tipped Metallica into megastardom, allowing the band to go beyond the boundaries of thrash, and gain recognition in the wide world of rock in the broadest sense of the term, the Black Album celebrates its thirtieth birthday without age having remotely tarnished a sound that has romped successfully down the decades. This was a record that shook up the band, following on the heels of four albums which were as ferocious as they were rapid. But fans were often perplexed by this black pearl when it first came out. Three years earlier, Metallica had released ...And Justice for All, whose production often did a disservice to its content (notably because of a mix that completely overshadowed Jason Newsted's bass). That album was also engulfed by the long shadow of mourning for the original bassist, Cliff Burton, who passed away in 1986.The Four Horsemen then decided to step out of their comfort zone by recruiting Bob Rock, the man behind the huge sound of Mötley Crüe's Dr. Feelgood, which had made a big impression on them. The Canadian producer would shake things up and reshuffle the deck. He built a gigantic wall of guitars, put the bass back in front, had the band record live and managed to get them to adopt a lower tuning on some songs. After months of painful and sometimes incomprehensible work, the band finally put the finishing touches to a record soberly entitled... Metallica. Its dark visuals earned it the nickname Black Album, a term that more or less became its official name over time and by force of circumstance.It came as a complete surprise when Enter Sandman, the first single (and first track on the record) was released two months before the album as an appetiser. Metallica served up a massive song, more or less mid-tempo, which owed more to heavy metal and rock than to the thrash that had made the band's reputation. The path to radio stardom opened up. The band even managed to come close to the tops of the radio charts in 1992 with the ballad Nothing Else Matters. This was another novelty from the Bay Area gang. Because everything, or nearly everything, was different now. Gone were the long epic songs that had defined their style for years. Metallica was now delivering shorter, less complex songs with formidable efficiency. Sad But True comes with an unparalleled heaviness that was more reminiscent of Black Sabbath than of the band's wild, borderline punk debut. The rest of the album favours this type of atmosphere, both crushing and always marked by a certain form of saturated groove (Wherever I May Roam, My Friend of Misery).While early fans were scandalised, their protests were drowned out by the millions of new fans that the four musicians drew in thanks to this metal classic which laid the foundations of a genre that was becoming steadily more accessible. All over the world, stadiums were flinging open their doors to this new sound. Metallica were no longer simply a leader of the thrash metal scene alongside Slayer or Megadeth, they were now a heavyweight behemoth capable of filling arenas at the stroke of a power chord. Thirty years after its release, the Black Album has sold over thirty million copies. You can't argue with numbers like that, which prove that the masses fully grasped the album's intrinsic quality. This classic release, once reviled by some (at least in its early days), has not only proven to be a solid album, but has come to be accepted by everyone. Along the way, it has become a rock staple on a par with the greatest records by Led Zeppelin, AC/DC or Deep Purple.Because Metallica have always been generous with their fans, this Black Album re-release in a Deluxe Box Set edition is a real treasure chest full of surprises, coming up on close to 200 tracks. It's a product that offers fans total immersion, thanks to studio recordings (isolated riffs, demo versions, rehearsals for pre-production), alternative mixes... and of course, a bunch of live performances made between 1991 and 1993 that prove, once again, that this band was first and foremost a war machine built for the stage, wherever they may roam. © Chief Brody/Qobuz
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Metal - Released January 1, 1996 | Blackened Recordings - Universal Music

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Delivered five years after their eponymous "black" album in 1991, Load captures Metallica settling into an uneasy period of maturation. Under the guidance of producer Bob Rock, Metallica have streamlined their sound, cutting away most of the twisting, unpredictable time signatures and the mind-numbingly fast riffs. What's left is polished -- and disappointingly straightforward -- heavy metal. Metallica's attempts at expanding their sonic palette have made them seem more conventional than they ever have before. They add in Southern boogie rock, country-rock, and power ballads to their bag of tricks, which make them sound like '70s arena rock holdovers. Metallica's idea of opening up their sound is to concentrate on relentless midtempo boogie -- over half the album is dedicated to songs that are meant to groove, but they simply don't swing. Metallica sound tight, but with the material they've written, they should sound loose. That becomes apparent as the songs drag out over the album's nearly 80-minute running time -- there are only so many times that a band can work the same tempo exactly the same way before it becomes tedious. It isn't surprising to hear Metallica get stodgier and more conservative as they get older, but it is nonetheless depressing. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Metal - Released September 12, 2008 | Blackened Recordings - Universal Music

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Call Death Magnetic Kirk Hammett's revenge. Famously browbeaten into accepting Lars Ulrich and producers Bob Rock's dictum that guitar solos were "dated" and thereby verboten for 2003's St. Anger -- a fraught recording chronicled on the 2004 documentary Some Kind of Monster -- Metallica's lead guitarist dominates this 2008 sequel, playing with an euphoric fury not heard in years, if not decades. This aesthetic shift isn't because Hammett suddenly rules the band: powerless to add solos to St. Anger, he couldn't reinstate them without the blessing of Ulrich and James Hetfield, the politburo of Metallica. The duo suffered some combination of shame and humility in the wake of the muddled St. Anger and Monster, convincing these two unmovable forces to change direction. They ditched longtime producer Rock -- who'd helmed every album since 1991's breakthrough blockbuster Metallica -- in favor of Rick Rubin, patron saint of all veteran rockers looking to reconnect with their early spark. Rubin may be the go-to producer for wayward superstars but as the producer of Slayer, he's also rooted in thrash, so he understands the core of Metallica's greatness and gently steers them back to basics on Death Magnetic. Of course, Metallica's basics are pretty complex: intertwined guitar riffs, frenetic solos, and thunderous double-bass drums stitched together as intricate seven-minute suites. Metallica slowly weaned themselves away from labyrinthine metal during the '90s, tempering their intensity, straightening out riffs, spending nearly as much time exploring detours as driving the main road, all the while losing sight of their identity. This culminated in the confused St. Anger, a transparent and botched attempt at returning to their roots, crippled by the chaos surrounding the departure of bassist Jason Newsted. With all their problems sorted out in public -- including replacing Newsted with Robert Trujillo, who acquiesces to the Metallica custom of being buried far, far in the mix -- the group embraces every gnarled, ugly thing they eschewed in the years since "Metallica." Death Magnetic bounces the band back to the days before Bob Rock, roughly sounding as if it could come after ...And Justice for All. Such a deliberate revival of the glory days can be tricky, as it could make a group seem stuck in the past -- or, just as badly, they can get essential elements wrong -- but Death Magnetic is a resounding success because they hunker down and embrace their core strengths, recognizing that their greatest asset is that nobody else makes noise in the same way as they do. That's the pleasure of Death Magnetic: hearing Metallica sound like Metallica again. Individual songs and, especially, Hetfield's lyrics -- less the confessional ballast of St. Anger, more a traditional blend of angst and terror -- are secondary to how the band sounds, how they spit, snarl, and surge, how they seem alive. Metallica isn't replicating moves they made in the '80s, they're reinvigorated by the spirit of their early years, adding shading they've learned in the '90s, whether it's the symphonic tension of "The Unforgiven III" or threading curdled blues licks through the thrash. Listening to the band play, it's hard not to thrill at Metallica's mastery of aggression and escalation. There is no denying that the band is older and settled, no longer fueled by the hunger and testosterone that made their '80s albums so gripping, but on Death Magnetic older doesn't mean less potent. Metallica is still vitally violent and on this terrific album -- a de facto comeback, even if they never really went away -- they're finally acting like they enjoy being a great rock band. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Metal - Released November 18, 1997 | Blackened Recordings - Universal Music

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Metallica recorded so much material for Load -- their first album in five years -- that they had to leave many songs unfinished, otherwise they would have missed their deadline. During the supporting tour for Load, they continued to work on the unfinished material, as well as write new songs, and they soon had enough material for a new album, Reload. The title suggests that Reload simply is a retread of its predecessor, and in many ways that's correct -- there's still too much bone-headed, heavy Southern rock for it to be anything other than the sequel to Load -- but there's enough left curves to make it a better record. Marianne Faithfull's backing vocals on "The Memory Remains" complement the weird, uneasy melody, and "Where the Wild Things Are" has an eerie menace that Metallica never achieved on Load. There are also a couple of ballads and country-rockers that don't work quite so well (it's never a good idea to have an explicit sequel, as on "The Unforgiven II"), and that, along with a few plodding Metallica-by-numbers, is what keeps Reload from being a full success. Still, the towering closer, "Fixxxer," along with handful of cuts that successfully push the outer edges of Metallica's sound, make the record worthwhile. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Metal - Released November 24, 1998 | Blackened Recordings - Universal Music

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Metal - Released February 1, 2019 | Blackened Recordings - Universal Music

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Metallica in the magazine
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    Preparing for The Blacklist On September 10th later this year, Metallica and fans alike will be celebrating 30 years since their self-titled fifth album - aka -The Black Album. Not only will we be treated to a remastered vers...
  • Re-justify
    Re-justify As if coming up with a worthy successor to the incomparable monument Masters Of Puppets wasn't daunting enough, Metallica had to go through the loss of Cliff Burton, who was more than just a bassis...