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Metal - Released July 25, 1983 | Blackened Records

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Metal - Released July 25, 1983 | Blackened Records

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Metal - Released July 27, 1984 | Blackened Records

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Metal - Released July 27, 1984 | Blackened Records

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Metal - Released March 3, 1986 | Blackened Records

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Metal - Released March 1, 1986 | Blackened Records

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 August 21, 1987 | Blackened Records

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Metal - Released January 1, 1987 | Blackened Records

On the surface, this EP might seem anecdotal, between two imposing productions (Masters of Puppets and ...And Justice for All), but in fact, these few covers are essential to the band’s long career. Indeed, these are the first recordings without Cliff Burton, who passed away on September 27, 1986, in the Metallica tour bus accident in Sweden. In "resilience" mode, the three surviving members applied - in a brutal and transparent way - Lars Ulrich's statements following the tragedy: "We knew in our hearts that Cliff would be the first one to kick us in the ass and tell us to keep going, if he could see us mope. And so there was no moping; we just kept going the best we knew how to!" Not only did they not stop, but a few months later they were in a small studio in Los Angeles recording a handful of covers, questioning themselves as little as possible. The title evokes Lars’ famous garage, Metallica's cocoon, and even if the return was purely symbolic, the idea was to prove that by going back to basics, the band was more motivated and fearless than ever. This EP was also an ideal way to push Jason Newsted, the new bassist, in at the deep end. A logical follow-up to Garage Days Revisited, which was the subtitle of the B-side of the 1984 EP Creeping Death, Re-Revisited opens with a cover of Diamond Head’s Helpless, one of Metallica greatest influences. Like always, the musicians completely appropriated the track, attacking it with a prodigious hardcore aggressiveness. More laid-back and gloomy, The Small Hours is a personal message from Lars, covering the unusual group Holocaust, who once rejected his offer to be their new drummer. You could argue that this "new wave of British heavy metal" band could have become Metallica if they had taken on Lars... Stranger still, Killing Joke's The Wait is the only clearly forward-looking track. At a time when they didn't mix subgenres, this cover sounded provocative both in the metal camp and in the post-punk gothic new wave audience that praised Killing Joke at the time. The message was clear, as Cliff was advocating when he joined Metallica: you shouldn't deny yourself any source of inspiration and not limit yourself to one specific genre. Later, James Hetfield would argue that the bassist would certainly have "been the first to set Metallica straight" when he got a little lost. Crash Course in Brain Surgery is a modern cover of Budgie, one of the little-known bands of the early days of British hard rock. But while Metallica stepped back in time to the origins of the genre, they approached the track in their own way rather than respecting the original version. As for Diamond Head, Holocaust or Blitzkrieg (on the previous EP), Metallica marked their territory to the point where we are still looking for someone who prefers the original versions. You can feel Cliff's kicks on each track, and you'll feel them for a long time to come. And even more on the cheerful punk explosion of the Misfits' two-track medley, Last Caress/Green Hell, which has become a long-awaited moment on stage. After that, there was no need to add anything else for this respectful re-release of the original raw sound. For unreleased or alternative versions, we'll wait for a new release from Garage Inc, in which the EP had been integrated when it was released in 1998. © Jean-Pierre Sabouret/Qobuz
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Metal - Released August 25, 1988 | Blackened Records

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Metal - Released September 6, 1988 | Blackened Records

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 August 12, 1991 | Blackened Records

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Metal - Released August 12, 1991 | Blackened Records

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Metal - Released June 4, 1996 | Blackened Records

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Metal - Released June 4, 1996 | Blackened Records

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Metal - Released November 18, 1997 | Blackened Records

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Metal - Released November 18, 1997 | Blackened Records

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Metal - Released November 24, 1998 | Blackened Records

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Metal - Released November 24, 1998 | Blackened Records

For many years, Metallica's 1987 EP Garage Days Re-Revisited was the most sought-after item in their catalog; it was constantly bootlegged in the '90s, and often supplemented by a host of covers Metallica had released on singles and compilations throughout the years. By 1998, the band had understandably grown frustrated with this situation and decided to confront the problem head-on by reissuing all these rarities. Savvy businessmen that they are, they also realized they needed to give hardcore fans who already owned all the covers a reason to purchase the new set -- hence, the expansion of the Garage Days EP to the double-disc blowout Garage, Inc. The second disc's rarities are balanced by the first disc's new covers, the bulk of which were recorded following the Reload tour. It shouldn't come as a surprise that these covers recall the blooze 'n' boogie heavy rock of the Loads, but what is a surprise is that Metallica seems to have found their footing in this style through other people's songs. Whether it's Bob Seger, Blue Öyster Cult, Thin Lizzy, Nick Cave, or the all-star jam on Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Tuesday's Gone," the band effortlessly makes the songs seem like their own, through a bizarre mix of respect and ballsy irreverence. Sure, it may not be nearly as raw as early Metallica, but it is a better listen than either of the Load records. And if raw is what you want, the equally diverse disc two provides all the thrills you could hope for. At one time, it might have seemed a little odd that Metallica would cover Budgie, Diamond Head, the Misfits, and Queen, but if Garage, Inc. proves anything, it's that the group's musical instincts, risks, and sense of humor have made them the greatest metal band of the '80s and '90s. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Metal - Released November 23, 1999 | Blackened Records

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Metal - Released June 5, 2003 | Blackened Records

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Metallica in the magazine
  • Preparing for The Blacklist
    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...