Metallica Fridays (no. 9): just as soon as the drums belong, then it’s time they malfunction…

So yeah… It’s been a time. Maybe Cliff Burton is looking down angrily and going, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING??!!” But everything that could go wrong did indeed go wrong.

The battery on the laptop i was using to record died (so i had to go plug it in); the camera i was using was about to die if i didn’t plug it in. The snare kept falling so low to the point where it became impossible to properly play. The post that was holding the snare popped out. The trigger to the kick randomly went out- then it was fine. It was one thing after another. Things have definitely happened before, but it was a combination of so many things that i just wanted to cry and quit.

But i didn’t, and got through it, mistakes and all.

This experience really did put things in perspective though. i’m pretty open in my appreciation for Lars Ulrich- which, besides my connection to Metallica’s music over the years (and especially since being an amputee) is the reason i decided to do these ‘Metallica Fridays’ posts. i decided to, for some reason, search a few posts on why he is hated as a drummer by so many. i saw the usual ‘he can’t keep proper time/he’s boring/he’s too basic’ reasoning. i started thinking about it, and for a guy who is not classically trained (or hasn’t had much training at all, in comparison to other drummers), the dude is great. If he was a metronome, Metallica would not be the same band. Is the fact that he is not a metronome good for someone who wants to practice Metallica songs, and is literally just starting out on drums?

Absolutely not. There are some songs of theirs i’ve drummed to (including one i’m posting today), and it was clear he was not using a click track. i do practice with one on occasion, but you have to throw all of that away when drumming to a Metallica song, for real.

i know that saying Lars is the anchor for the band may sound strange (given that people negatively critique his drumming consistently), but it was very clear to be during the 40th anniversary shows that he was. Metallica is his baby, and he uses drums as a means to serve the rest of the music. i also love how, during the bridge of a song (or even a solo) one (or all) of the band would turn towards him, or go behind him. i’m sure it’s a way for all of them to keep time with each other, but it still looks like they are getting energy from the anchor. In 2008 he spoke about how the negative criticism bothered him at one point, and as a result he “spent a lot of time overcompensating for that on the early records. But then you wake up one day and you’re like, whatever. It hasn’t bothered me for about 15 years. I’m no Joey Jordison, I’m no Mike Portnoy, and I have nothing but love and respect and admiration for all those guys. When I hear some of the young dudes, they blow my mind with what they can do with their feet and stuff — but it’s not something that makes me go, ‘I need to feel better about myself so I’m gonna learn how to do what they do with my feet.’ I’m not a particularly accomplished drummer but I am very, very, very good at understanding the role of the drums next to James Hetfield’s rhythm guitar. I guarantee you I’m the best guy in the world for that, and that’s enough for me!”

He understands his limitations and respects those who are technically much better than him, and it’s something i deeply respect. To me, Lars is a ‘hero’ to those of us who are not technical, and ‘basic’. Of course you always want to get better, but you don’t want to beat yourself up over the fact that you aren’t on the level of some of your favorite drummers/guitarists/bassists/pianists/etc. either.

So as usual, even with all the imperfections, we have another edition of ‘Metallica Fridays’. Today we have my second favorite song on what was for 30 years my favorite Metallica album. ‘Master Of Puppets’ is my 3rd favorite Metallica song of all time, but my second favorite song on the album is ‘Leper Messiah’- the first favorite being ‘Disposable Heroes’. i definitely messed up towards the end, and came in a fraction of a second early a few times, but it’s all in the journey.

Now we have a song from the album that knocked Puppets out of the number 1 spot: ‘2X4’. While playing to this song i just kept saying to myself, Lars is a dope drummer. His style is more diverse than people give him credit for. Does he have particular staples (like the crash on the 2)? Of course! But no one Metallica album sounds the same, so he couldn’t survive on any of those albums if his style had no diversity. Go listen to Load and tell me Lars sucks.

The mishaps also happened during ‘Leper Messiah,’ but the bulk of them happened here (to the point i wanted to cry).

i hope i still did alright though.

i’m really not trying to make you mad Cliff. i promise.

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