So… wow. i have a lot of feelings around James Hetfield’s recent comments in Brazil. Every week on these ‘Metallica Fridays’ posts i talk about ‘getting out of my head’ and learning to embrace my mistakes as a way of further understanding the journey… and here he is at the age of 58, openly discussing his anxieties and insecurities around no longer being able to play in the same ways he once did. i wrote my feelings on his speech here; one thing i did not say though, is that if his concerns are around not being able to play well, many would absolutely disagree. There are many who have had harsh critiques for the band for years, who are coming out and saying they’ve been playing better than ever. While none of us could ever know the full extent of what James Hetfield is going through, one thing we can all say is that, unless something happens to really affect his motor skills (God willing that does not happen), he is in no danger of putting on no less of a great performance.
As private a person as he is, being open in where he’s at mentally is significant in that his words may have saved someone’s life- including his own. As a person who lives with depression, his words around mental health (as well as the Load, ReLoad and St. Anger albums specifically) always resonate with me.
i’ve said this elsewhere, and i’ll say it again here: i think 58-year old James Hetfield is cool. And i’m sure at 59, 60 and beyond he will be just as cool.
Don’t let the demons take hold of the Heaven in your head…
Doing the posts for this site- and the Metallica posts specifically- have been helping me pull through the struggle in many ways: the struggles of this ‘new’ life as an amputee; the struggle of learning not to be as frustrated with my mistakes; of learning to let go. The struggle of actually taking in new ways of listening to music. The music experience is very different as a person having to learn how to play the songs, versus simply listening to it. And sometimes that is frustrating, because it seems like you can never get it ‘right’. The point SHOULD be though, that you are playing it in your own way, versus copying what you hear. Given that i am physically limited in how i, for instance, play drums, i have begun to find that i do have a particular style… and that is interesting to see. i just aim to be as respectful as possible to all artists. Even if it’s just me seeing these posts, i know that it’s helping. If others see these posts and it helps them, it’s even better.
…And since i mentioned the album earlier, i think we will start with ‘Attitude’, from ReLoad. It makes me laugh that people always get on Lars for that scene in Some Kind Of Monster (including Kirk and James), when he’s trying to counter the ‘stock’ (according to him) riff with a particular drum pattern… when dude is a MASSIVE fan of rhythmic illusions. As am i. All their albums have them. i’m not sure if it’s because of the few (in comparison to others) lessons he’s had over the years, so he has little technical knowledge, and sees these patterns in his head. Lars adding an extra beat (or coming in a half step beforehand) is very common, and learning how to play to Metallica songs throws off many a more ‘traditional’ drummer.
i will always love Lars for this. There is no one like him.
To me, ‘Attitude’ is an example of this. When i first heard the song i was like, ‘Whut? Wait. i…’ The difference between this song and some others is, Lars counts off on the 2, so you get a little help in knowing where to start. Some of the other songs just blast off, and you’re like, ‘Wait- is he starting on the 2 or the 3??!!’ i’m not that good at counting beats and measures (as y’all probably see with some of the glaring mistakes i’ve made in these posts- HA!), so i do it all by just listening to the song, and going there.
So i think the kick started (a little early) on the 1, and the snare/crash combination started at 2. Then when the song kicks in, it starts on 2. Is my count correct?
i mean, i play music but i’m not a musician. That’s probably safe to say.
All i know is that i’m glad Load and ReLoad exist. To me, those albums encompassed the ‘bigness’ of the Black Album sound, but in terms of subject matter and arrangement it was an evolution.
Here we return to what was my favorite Metallica album for 30 years- until Load knocked it out of that spot… Master Of Puppets! It amazes me that people so young can make such complex music. i highly doubt you would have had an album like Load, if Lars and James never approached Cliff Burton. He was a major inspiration for the evolution in their sound. Would they have remained strictly a thrash or NWOBHM-inspired band, had they not met him? Would there have been just straight shredding for every single song? Perhaps. We will never know though. What we DO know (again) is that Cliff brought to the band some invaluable elements.
…Including the classic intros. Whether it’s ‘Damage Inc.’ (which i play to here), ‘Blackened’, ‘To Live Is To Die’, ‘Fight Fire With Fire’, ‘That Was Just Your Life’, ‘Fixxxer’ or other favorites… all of those are clear nods to Cliff Burton’s influence. So of course Cliff deserved the intro. After all, it’s him playing the intro.
Metallica definitely are one of the best in knowing how to sequence and bookend albums.
Aaaaaaaaand… even though ‘Blackened’ is my favorite Metallica song of all time, my current favorite song (because there is a difference) is ‘Trapped Under Ice’. ‘Trapped’ was one of my wishes for the 40th shows- AND THEY DID IT. i lost my voice as a result, screaming so loud as those opening chords played, then singing along.
This song involves one of my least favorite things in the whole world- being cold, and one of my greatest fears- being trapped. Snow is one of my top ten favorite things in the whole world, but i absolutely hate being cold. i have also been trapped before. One of my top 3 greatest fears in the whole world was also being hit by a truck, and i actually survived that. Can i survive being trapped under ice? i doubt it.
The bass (unsurprisingly) was recorded so low so i had to figure out for myself how to play it, without any cues from Mr. Burton. i played a bunch of root notes (of course!), and added a bit of harmony. i did end up seeing a few bass covers of the song- most covers of this song are on guitar- but every single person played it their own way, playing mostly with the guitar. My guess is that it’s because you can hardly hear the original, unless you remixed it to make the bass louder (which is what i actually did with ‘Damage Inc.’).
A block of ice made a guest appearance here… They never left their name though.