Metallica: 10 Essential Tracks
After banging out five albums in the first decade of their career, metal titans Metallica have slowed down somewhat in the second half. Their last album Death Magnetic was a full eight years ago, in between times they’ve toured the world multiple times, headlined a series of UK and Europe’s biggest festivals and given their classic LPs Master Of Puppets, The Black Album and Ride The Lightning plays in full on various tours, but for most of the time were tight-lipped about the possibility of new material.
But that all changes today. Their new album, which is the 10th of their career, is titled Hardwired… To Self-Destruct and it hits CD shelves today (you can preview and purchase it on the right-hand side of the page). Produced by Greg Fidelman, who is best known for his work with Slayer and Slipknot, the LP is the first that the band will release on their own Blackened Recordings. It is the first double album of the band's career and will be also be available with a deluxe edition that contains an extra disc of new material, including 'Lords Of Summer', a track the band have been playing live for the last three years.
To celebrate the return of the Bay Area thrash gods we thought it would be fun to have a little dig through their back catalogue and run down 10 essential tracks. Here goes...
‘Seek & Destroy’
Metallica’s first album Kill Em’ All is a raw, scrappy and punishing listen. Punkier than anything they’d go on to do, it’s pure power and pace and this is the best song on the album.
‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’
The band’s second LP Ride The Lightning was a much grander affair, the thrash metal was met with sweeping instrumentation and gargantuan guitars, particularly on the towering ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’.
This track is also widely seen as then bassist Cliff Burton’s finest moment. Burton, who sadly died in 1986 when the band’s tour bus overturned and landed on top of him, was a powerful player and still rated among metal’s best ever.
‘Master Of Puppets’
Clocking in at over eight and a half minutes in length the title track from the band’s 1986 album is an epic masterpiece. Brutally fast, the track crunches along before building into a stomping chorus. Arenas have chanting “Obey your master” loudly for 30 years now, here’s to many more.
1988’s ...And Justice For All is the album where the band took ability to create epic anthems with many a twist and turn and pushed it to the extreme. The shortest song on the record is over five minutes long and the title track clocks in at just under 10 minutes.
The album’s centrepiece is the driving and disturbing ‘One’, a track inspired by the story of a World War I soldier who is severely wounded, blind and unable to speak nor move, who returns home as a supposed vegetable case to wait helplessly for death. It was the band’s first track to be given a music video and that’s just as powerful.
The band’s ultimate anthem. This is the opener on the band’s 1991 self-titled album, which is more commonly known as The Black Anthem and the group’s first bonafide hit. The Black Anthem saw the band abandon the lengthy tracks and embrace a hard rock sound tailor made for arenas with the help of new producer Bob Rock. It sold over one million copies and helped the album it opened sell over 30 million copies.
‘Nothing Else Matters’
The Black Anthem also features the band’s biggest and best ballad. Written by frontman James Hetfield on one hand while on the phone to his then girlfriend, the song’s haunting melody and lush chorus make it still a fan favourite to this day. It’s also been the wedding first dance choice for many a metalhead.
Fans had to wait five years for the band to follow-up The Black Album and were surprised when Load, the album that came in 1996, saw the band exploring country, blues and alternative rock as well as their metallic roots. One track that did unite fans was ‘King Nothing’, a stomping anthem with a gigantic chorus.
Fans didn’t have wait long for a follow-up to Load with a second album Reload arriving the following year in 1997 opened by this absolute piledriver! It stills rips!
‘Whiskey In The Jar’
1998’s Garage Inc saw Metallica paying tributes to the bands who made them who they are with an 11-track covers album. Alongside covers of Queen, The Misfits and Nick Cave is this thrashy take on Thin Lizzy’s ‘Whiskey In The Jar’. Taking the wild spirit of the original and adding that trademark Metallica crunch this remains a live favourite with fans to this day.
A one-off single for the soundtrack to 2000’s Mission: Impossible II, this cut often gets overlooked when the band’s best cuts are rated and ranked, but for us, it’s up there with the best of them.