Metallica, Why I Think They Never Sold Out.

Posted: January 27, 2013 in 2013, , Good TImes, Music, Ramblings

Metallica; a Thrash Metal band formed in Los Angeles circa 1981, they were amongst the Glam & Hair bands that were largely present at the time in the LA music scene. They some how managed to stay above the ocean of hair spray, spandex, leather, high heels & make up with their heavy, gritty, fast paced, mean sounding music.

They’re one of four big bands that came from the United States are are governed as The Big Four of Thrash Metal, the others being; Slayer, Megadeth & Anthrax. Metallica being the largest of the four followed by Slayer then Megadeth and in last place sadly Anthrax, who I think as a live band are the best of the four, especially when fronted by the all amazing & talented Joey Belladonna on vocals.

Back to Metallica, by 1983 Metallica had already been through two band members bassist Ron McGoveney had come and gone & lead guitarist Dave Mustaine has been booted out for his alcoholism and general attitude to the band. Which was the best thing to ever have happened to Dave because it gave him the fuel needed to start Megadeth, which in itself is a rather respectable band, even if Dave is not when he opens his mouth and it is not on stage during a song.

By then Metallica consisted of James Hetfield on lead vocals & guitar, Lars Ulrich on drums, Cliff Burton on bass & Kirk Hammet on lead guitar. This line up formed the band for their first three releases, Kill ‘Em All, Ride The Lightning & my personal favourite Master of Puppets. Then rolled around the European Master of Puppets tour in 1986 where a tragic accident in Sweden left Cliff Burton dead at the age of 24. Metallica was now with out a bass player and had to abandon their European fans mid tour. It wasn’t looking good for them, but they weren’t going to throw in the towel there. They held extensive auditions for a new bass player and finally they settled on Jason Newstead, who was a huge Metallica fan also, so he went from looking up from the crowd in his home town on year at a Metallica show to looking down on the crowd all within the space of a year.

The band released an EP with Jason, then a full studio album, their fourth effort titled “…And Justice For All” it was Metallica’s first album to debut in the top 10 and it was proving things were only going to get better and bigger for them from here on in. That proved so with them being nominated for a Grammy and most likely to win, although they did not, they lost out to Jetro Tull.

The 90’s rolled around and Metallica teamed up with the famous music producer Bob Rock, who was known for working with bands like Motley Crue, Aerosmith & Bon Jovi. He was brought in after James Hetfield loved his production work on Motley Crue’s Dr. Feelgood album. Whilst still hating Motley Crue, because they were seen as rivals. Metallica being the bad boys of Metal & Motley Crue the bad boys of Sunset Strip & Rock N’ Roll in general.

Bob came in to help the band for their new album simply titled ‘Metallica’ or ‘The Black Album’ as it is more commonly called due to it’s black album with nothing more than Metallica in the top left and the bands snake logo bottom right in a dark grey. The Black Album is considered to be where Metallica sold out. This is where I beg to differ that Metallica never sold out. They simply expanded their horizons musically, they brought in someone who knew what he was doing and how to help the band define their sound on each song and get them to try different things. Bob Rock also made James take singing lessons which James believes saved his voice.

I see why some say Metallica sold out because they changed but, to me it’s the total opposite, they gambled by changing their musical direction, it gave them the chance to reach a wider audience. It would make more sense to say a band like Slayer, AC/DC or Motorhead are sell outs because they make the same sounding album every cycle. It’s a safe bet for sales and fan retention, I get that also, they want to stay relevant in their genre with their fans, not gamble and potentially lose their fan base & their status. But this change worked for Metallica, they became bigger than ever, possibly the largest in their entire career today.

The Black Album flew off shelves and recently it was titled in the USA as the best selling album of the Soundscan era (1991 to present day), surpassing Shania Twains 1997 album. It sold in excess of 20 million albums in the USA, and continues to sell about another million units per year world wide, and world wide it has sold over 30 million units.

Bob Rock worked wonders with Metallica so much so they kept him around until 2003. Between 1990 & 2003 the band released Load & ReLoad, Garage, Inc., which was all covers from various influences to Metallica over the years, especially Motorhead, 3 of their songs feature on the double album. They also recorded a live album the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, which was Jason Newsteads last recorded work with the band. Then in 2003 Metallica released their most controversial album to date titled “St. Anger”

St. Anger, it was the last Metallica album to be produced by Bob Rock it also took the band 2 years to record the album. It’s most known for it’s lack of guitar solo’s (there is not a single one on the album) and Lars Ulrichs infamous tin can snare, which he has received all kinds of backlash, but he simply just laughs at it these days and pokes fun at it. Whilst the album debuted at number 1, it was not a fan favourite. Though it is a favourite of mine. I don’t care what anyone says, it’s a good thrash metal album!

Critics gave it a negative view, but some also said if it wasn’t Metallica it would’ve made for a great debut garage thrash metal album. They’re right, if Metallica had not put it out, it would’ve been seen as a master piece. But it was Metallica and they were seen as a bunch of sellouts by 2003.

By then the band was on their third bass player who was ex bassist for Ozzy Osbournes band & Suicidal Tendencies, Robert Trujillo. An exceptional bass player, who has more style and sound like that of later Cliff Burton. Robert is a true fit for Metallica, not that Jason wasn’t a bad pick either.

in 2008 the band released Death Magnetic, with producer Rick Rubin who is known for working with Slayer, Slipknot, Beastie Boys, ZZ Top Aerosmith & The Red Hot Chilli Peppers! The band returned to long 9 minute songs, with guitar solo’s and regained some of their thrash credibility.

Over all I do not think Metallica sold out, they did what they had to, to either survive, adapt or to fuck with people because they’re Metallica, the biggest band in Metal.

Advertisements
Comments
  1. Emil says:

    AGREED!

  2. Jake says:

    I completely agree with you. You can’t stay the same forever, the fans have to realize that Metallica is been around for 30 years, and now newer and younger people are starting to listen to this great band! The older fans who refuse to recognize anything the band out out past And Justice For All are wearing rose tinted glasses, if you like the old stuff, that’s great so let us listen to their newer stuff (except Lulu, pretend that never existed.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s