Metallica Fridays (no. 28): Improving Upon The Source (Yet Again), Despite Limitations

Yes, i know i am late again; it is a combination of organizing, plus working on other major projects (outside of this site). There’s also been the dreaded technical issue. One day i hope to have an acoustic drum set of my own…

The inevitable thing about electronic drums is that they become temperamental, especially after consistent use. They also do the best they can to mirror acoustic drums, but it’s clear you are hearing a machine. i am not complaining, because ultimately, having electronic drums are far better than never having had a set at all- and despite having played drums in several bands, i have never had a set of my own.

i haven’t had much of a chance to look into it, but sometimes the crash cymbal on the Alesis will randomly not completely read the trigger; and the latest thing that happened (in the middle of this most recent session) is that the snare is bouncing, as if it’s detached…. i suppose i could have skipped this week, but i figured i would try things out with an even bigger combination of the Octopad and the Alessis. Again, it is extremely clear i am playing some machines, but honestly, it could be worse.

Also, the main reason i decided to play this way is to challenge my brain. While i started out this site playing the Octopad, the muscle memory of playing on a replica of a traditional set messed me up, trying to play the Octopad again, in the same ways. It’s a really good challenge, especially since my post-accident brain retains information much differently than it used to. And this site of course is charting not only the progressions and joys, but the challenges and mistakes.

Which is why i continue to return to the musical source of inspiration for this site: ‘Blackened’. It’s my favorite Metallica song of all time, as well as the first Metallica song i ever learned on drums (which i’ve mentioned various times). i am absolutely obsessed with improving upon and evolving my way of playing it, more than any other song in the catalog- besides ‘Battery’.

i am gonna need people to stop attacking Lars. Like any of us, he should never be immune from critique, but this song IS NOT EASY TO PLAY. i’ve played to this song probably at least a hundred times… at least. And still, THE SONG IS NOT EASY TO PLAY. i definitely am not the greatest drummer in the world. i wouldn’t even place myself in the pantheon of ‘good’ drummers. i am just okay. But for a person who is passable on the drums, and plays a song like ‘Blackened’ with one leg (when that song essentially requires, like many of their songs, double bass)… it could be worse.

If you go back and look at the first time i played the song on this site, then look at this post; i have no qualms in saying my playing of the song improved. Is it perfect? Definitely not. i hear mistakes all over this thing. Is it better though? YES. If i had an acoustic set, i can guarantee that my playing would sound better. But alas, i currently live in an apartment. This song gives me great joy to play, and i am always inspired by Lars.

i have to also give props to Jason Newsted for writing the primary riff. i did mix the bass a little higher here (while i actually do love the dry sound of Justice it was nice to hear a bit more saturation in the track), and after doing that there were a couple of parts (and a certain bass swell) i actually did end up hearing in the mix on the officially released version. So while the bass was the recipient of minimal mixing (as it’s been on ALL Metallica releases prior to the 1990s) if you listened close enough you could actually hear it.

This next song was suggested by Bob Rock to be the band’s inaugural single of the 1990s, but Lars (who else?) voted against it- which was perhaps a wise choice, if they were looking to reach wider audiences. ‘Holier Than Thou’ would have most likely appealed to more hardcore metal(lica) fans, but it would not have, again, had the massive global impact as ‘Enter Sandman’ did.

‘Holier Than Thou’ (a Hetfield/Ulrich cowrite) is again, one of those songs the band can write in their sleep, and it just turns out great. It’s the type of song that doesn’t leave much to interpretation. Some folks see it as a sibling to ‘Leper Messiah’ (which is my second favorite track off Master Of Puppets). It’s also one of the shortest songs in their catalog.

Already frustrated by the technical issues, i wanted to still play this song (because it’s actually quite fun to play); but the snare setting i had it on (which fit more with the dryness of Justice) obviously did not work for the booming sound of The Black Album, no matter how much reverb i put on it. Lesson learned, lesson learned… The drums also occasionally sounded as if they had some sort of flanger effect on it, which is interesting.

i am also posting this because i didn’t want to skip two weeks of a post.


There will be a posting break this coming week- well, not only to see if i can rectify any of these tech issues, but also because i will be going out of town to see the band these ‘Fridays’ posts are about.


Until then, please enjoy all the posts!