Thursday, September 18, 2008


I'm not ashamed to admit that I basically learned my way around the guitar thanks to Metallica. I learned every song from their 1983 debut, Kill 'em All, through their fifth, the self-titled black album released 1991, plus some of the other miscellaneous debris recorded during that period.

Then around 1992 I read Kirk Hammet's article in some guitar mag, I think his column was called The Sound And The Fury. Anyway, he wrote about phrasing, a term that, when used musically, really has no place in the heavy metal lexicon. But he wasn't talking about heavy metal, he was talking about jazz. Miles and Coltrane to be exact. His article prompted me to buy a Miles and Coltrane CD, then I was hooked. I sold all my Metallica CDs, along with a bunch others I mostly regret selling off today, and the rest is history in the making.

In the '90s, Metallica released a few albums. I bought Load in 1996, and lost interest. I didn't even pay attention to their next couple albums. But they just released their ninth, called Death Magnetic. This one sounds a lot more like their earlier releases, so out of nostalgia, I bought it.

If you used to be a fan, check it out. It's hilarious. They're back to doing everything that made me love them as an adolescent. Long songs with long intros built on riff after riff after glorious wall-to-wall-Marshall-stack riff. Then there's harmonized lead guitar lines, shredding solos, and dark, dark lyrics. I can't really take these men seriously anymore, especially that goofus Lars, but nobody makes this kind of music better than them. Thank you Rick Rubin for giving us our Metallica back.

The author circa 1996(?). I was past my Metallica stage, but hadn't taken down the posters in my bedroom. Note the other sophisticated post-modern decor, accented by the empty Gatorade bottle and Successories (to compliment my road race t-shirt) on the desk and bulletin board full of empty guitar string packs. I used Dean Markley strings back then, but am a dedicated D'Addario customer now. Hey D'Addario, how about an endorsement?

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