Thursday, 26 March 2009

All Nightmare Wrong? Thank Hammett, it's Not.

Ok, time to indulge.

Usually, I use my iPod shuffle when I'm exercising and usually I fill it with electronic numbers or heavy metal because of the higher BPM. Unfortunately, Belle and Sebastian's "Tigermilk" doesn't exactly encourage you to maximise your heart rate.

So, as it happens, I was listening to a bit of newish Metallica while running the other night, specifically their release of last year "Death Magnetic", and even more specifically the tune 'All Nightmare Long' and I have to admit that I'm a bit endeared to it.

When I was much younger, Kirk Hammett (the lead guitarist) was my hero. I wanted to be able to play like him, and pretty much be him. I didn't really care much for Lars Ulrich or James Hetfield who wrote most of the songs. I mean, lyrically, they were no Leonard Cohen and Wil Sheff. But the sheer magnitude of rock that burst from Kirk's guitar was something almost holy.

For quite some time now, like many others, I have spurned every Metallica record that has proceeded 1988's 'And Justice For All'. This is mainly due to their jump into mainstream heavy rock and the noticeable absence of the guitar solo. Guitar solos was what made Metallica good. Their music from the black album was a demonstration that they had abandoned their thrash metal roots in search of something a bit more commercial.

Should I blame the production of Bob Rock? Is it a coincidence that the band's first release since dumping Rock is their best album in nearly 20 years? I think not. Metallica have switched to super producer Rick Rubin, who did a lot of work with fellow thrash metal stalwarts, Slayer.

So now that I have justified writing about Metallica, you'll have to indulge me.

The reason I like 'All Nightmare Long' is definitely due to Kirk's guitar work rather than Hetfield's somewhat adolescent lyrics. The latter stages of the song feature two blistering solos that harmonise well with the machine-gun rhythm of Hetfield and the somewhat solid drumming of Ulrich. Hammett deftly uses his wah pedal to great effect, all the while never sacrificing speed and technique.

If you were to delete Kirk's contribution to this tune, then you'd have one average song. It is great to see that Metallica's 'return to their roots' mentality has allowed them to fashion something that stands up reasonably well in comparison to their earlier thrash masterpieces (i.e. anything from 'Ride the Lightning'). Songs like 'All Nightmare Long' allow you to feel justified about liking Metallica again.

So OK, thank you for letting me indulge my thrash metal roots. I'll go back to writing about socially acceptable music tomorrow.


Andrew McMillen said...

Fuck 'socially acceptable'. Death Magnetic is totally enjoyable and endearing in some amateur, almost high-school fashion. It's Metallica having a blast playing big dumb riffs. They do it well. I like it.

Darragh said...

You're exactly right Andrew. I should probably grow some more testicles and not be wary of pissing off the indie kids with my Metallica love!