i am not always a fan of reverb in music- unlike many, i actually enjoy the ‘drier’ sound of say, a Death Magnetic (no, i’m not even discussing the ‘loudness wars’ situation) or an …And Justice for All. Ride the Lightning was a massive recipient of the reverb, as was Master Of Puppets, to a slightly lesser degree. Hardwired… To Self Destruct to me was that perfect balance of ‘wet’ and ‘dry’.
That said… i did a little bit of experimentation. i went ahead and added reverb to the drums, because the dryness of electrodrums obviously doesn’t fit every song. Everything is dialectical, and despite everything i said coming into this post, reverb does have its benefits.
The more i play these songs on the drums though, the more appreciation i have for Lars. The more i play this music, regardless of the instrument, i have more appreciation for the band. Taking in the music as a listener is one thing. Taking it all in as a person who plays music is another. And taking it in as a writer is a whole other level. It amazes me that these dudes were in their early 20s, writing on a level both complex and melodic.
‘Disposable Heroes’ (my favorite song on Master Of Puppets) is one hundred seventy-eight (178) beats per minute. Looking it up i saw a range of BPMs, but in actually using a metronome for the song, 178 came the closest… at least during the pre-chorus. Imagine seeing this for the first time live, like many did in 1985 at the Metal Hammer Festival (to me, one of their top two greatest shows of all time). It’s always exciting to see them do songs yet to be officially released, or works in process, like ‘Vulturous’, ‘Death Is Not The End,’ ‘Lords Of Summer,’ the songs of Beyond Magnetic or this song, prior to its release on Puppets the next year.
The song succinctly captures the dehumanization of those who are used as pawns in an imperialist war. It’s an incredibly haunting song with two perspectives: the exploiter and the exploited. i understood what the song was about as a teenager carrying this cassette around, listening to Puppets on repeat. However, i was a punk kid who loved the thrashiness of the song, and it wasn’t until i was much older before i truly took in the IMPACT of the song.
(No, i did not play the drums note for note- don’t come for me please…)
My greatest memory of ‘Escape’ is sitting around with 14 or 15 other people in a small room (after seeing Metallica on December 3, 1991 at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium), and listening to Ride The Lightning in full, pontificating on how Metallica was the greatest band in the world. i remember people in the room were going on about how Lightning was their greatest album, and i may have been one of the few who said Puppets was. It makes me laugh now, because i do wonder how many of the diehards still rock with the band today, or did they fall off after Load/ReLoad… or St. Anger?
‘Escape’ is one of two songs (as far as i know- the other being ‘Hero Of The Day’) that is written primarily in major key. For some reason, James Hetfield hates the song, and while they jammed on it briefly a few times (and jokingly played the intro) they only performed it in full once (at the Orion Music + More Festival in 2012).
It’s not as ‘deep’ as other songs on the album, but it’s still a good song.
Yo… In playing to ‘The God That Failed’, it led me to remember that when this album came out, this was my jam, for real. It was the song that got stuck in my head, before any other song on The Black Album. That bass intro, with that 4 on the floor beat, went HARD. It’s a straight head nodder. It was probably the one song that actually made me a fan of the album.
i also remembered that, despite Hugo Burnham, David Lovering, etc. being major drumming inspirations for me, it was THIS song that subconsciously influenced my playing as well, in my formative years as a drummer. Lars’ fills are dope on this song, and i realize that i used to also kind of play like this.
Even though ‘Fade To Black’ is technically the first ‘personal’ song (and ‘Dyers Eve’ is the first where you see the exploration of the broken relationship between parent and child), ‘The God That Failed’ is one of a couple on The Black Album that begin to explore the subject a bit deeper.