This… is Metallica. 2016.
In the world of metal, they are among gods.
And just like so many of our gods, they have let us down from time to time. Some bands hold true to their natural form, some bands feel the need to ‘progress’. Either formula can sustain or destroy a band.
In our churn and burn consumption of popular media, a band can only put out three popular albums before hitting a fork in the road. At that juncture, the band is either going to be regurgitating upon the formula that brought them success, or explore new directions different from the blueprints laid down from previous work.
Risk being boring by doing the same thing, or risk alienating your audience by becoming a band so drastically different from what created the fans to begin with.
Metallica choose option B.
And for kids who held those first three Metallica albums up as the gospel of thrash, the steady disintegration of what essentially gave birth to an entire sub genre of metal into something slick, polished, corporate, and ready for radio was a hard pill to swallow.
And I still say if Cliff Burton hadn’t died so tragically after the “Master of Puppets” album, Metallica would have never taken the path they did.
It wasn’t an immediate abandonment of the very thrash that had rewarded this scrappy band of metal misfits so well… there were moments along the way that were worthy. Aside from the production quirks, “And Justice For All” showed a maturing band that could still break it down and spin the mosh pits whenever they wanted.
But then The Black album just blew up with the success of ‘Enter Sandman’, their slower songs like, ‘Unforgiven’ were run into the ground by a constant rotation on MTV, and the band made bank.
When Metallica decided they needed a new ‘image’… that’s when the shark was officially jumped and many old school fans just stopped caring. Which apparently didn’t effect the band much as there were legions of new fans to take their place.
Metallica has been successful in any form they adopt, selling albums, tickets, and their brand to a world-wide fan base on a level that very few bands can even imagine.
But for the kids who were there in 80’s, who saw this group of t-shirt and jean wearing hooligans thumb their nose at the glitz and glam that dominated the landscape, and created some of the most intense, cutting, energetic metal that was part of a movement so specific to the time, it earned it’s own label of ‘thrash’… the wait for Metallica to unleash the beast of metal they captured on those first three albums seemed to be a wasted wish.
The band has parted ways with Warner Bros and they have formed their own Blackened Records that will serve as the home for the next Metallica release, “Hardwired… To Self Destruct”, scheduled to drop November 18, 2016.
Perhaps it’s the freedom being on their own label grants, or maybe it’s the resurgence of metal that the mainstream seems completely unaware is happening, but there is a perfect storm of metal bubbling in the underground. Many old school bands are releasing some of the best music in their careers and that is colliding with a ton of new school bands that grew up listening to their parents metal, and have now picked up the torch and have started many raging fires, especially in the European scene.
Whatever the reason, the timing is right. Witness Metallica returning to a form not heard since pre-Black album days…
Post Update: The second advance single has now been released… a bit more dramatic at 6:00+ minutes long.. but again, showing Metallica in a form that nods back to the classic era of thrash.
“Moth Into Flame”