Metallica Fridays (no. 33): Meeting My Fears (no. 8,375)

i once had a tattoo on my left leg that said ‘no fear’, surrounded by balloons.

About 19 years ago i was riding my bicycle (of course), and i had my neck cut by some kite string with balloons attached to it. If you’ve heard any of the stories that came out within the past year about people being injured (or worse) by random kite strings, then you know that kite string is no joke. i am grateful to have survived. As a result, i developed a fear of balloons.

i wanted to lose this fear, and the tattoo was a reminder of encouraging me to do so. As a result of my legs being messed up from being hit by a truck (which i am extremely grateful to have survived as well) i lost this tattoo. Coincidentally (or not) i began developing a whole other heap of fears. While it may be true that fear is simply representative of False Evidence Appearing Real; but suddenly becoming an amputee will probably do that to you on some level.

So now i have to start over and find my voice again.

As i’ve mentioned various times, Metallica has been a major soundtrack in this journey of starting over. The context of their music is quite different now, as a nearing 50 disabled adult whose life experience has now shifted, versus a young kid who was much more mobile with two legs. While my brain struggles to process various things (due to the accident i suppose), my brain is still functioning with dozens and dozens of thoughts and ideas all at once, and it’s frustrating that i can’t get them all out. i usually have something nearby where i can record my ideas (whether it’s paper or a recording device)- and a lot of times those ideas happen when i don’t have access to something, like i’m in the bathroom/shower, or if i’m in bed and don’t feel like getting up to get said things to record on.


This 72 Seasons album has been incredibly helpful in terms of helping me access some of this creativity. It’s also been helpful in acknowledging that i still have a few fears i was unaware were still around.

This may be a pretty common fear- and it may sound strange to some folks that it’s one i have, given the amount of things i do on here- but one of the fears i do have is a fear of truly accessing my own creativity. i am not a great musician or singer, and i don’t particularly like the sound of my own voice; however, i love creating, so i do it. Creating is a means of survival. i create, but i’m always seeing something in it that makes me recoil, like i played a note weird, or that i’m not good enough.

And suddenly, the universe brings a wonderful song to us called ‘Room Of Mirrors’, the penultimate track on 72 Seasons. To me, ‘Room Of Mirrors’ works similar to ‘Purify’ (the penultimate track on the wonderful St. Anger), in that they both describe the process of truly opening yourself to be vulnerable to others, and breaking down every cell, every atom. To truly open yourself to others is one of the most difficult things to do. Even the most encouraging words sometimes sound like a criticism, either due to painful experiences that have shaped your life, or the voices inside your head telling you ‘no’.

In a mirrored room
Talking to myself
And the voices pushing back
I’ll let them inside my heart
But they’ll tear it all apart

In a mirrored room
Just a simple man
Naked, broken, beat, and scarred
What do I really know?
That fear of letting go

Letting go is scary. Your thoughts are going 250 miles a minute, and you write and record all of these ideas when you can (to the point where it’s even difficult to remember where you put them). You are blanketed by all of these ideas, but to actually put them out into the world is taking that blanket off, leaving you cold. But you need to get up and jog through the forest of your brain to keep warm.


…And so it began, where we were sitting in the theater listening to the tracks of the album, in the global premiere. There were already songs i was familiar with (due to them being released as singles previously). With the new songs, i closed my eyes for much of it, and just took in the music. Not only is every single song a lyrical deep exploration (charting some of James Hetfield’s best), but so many of the songs are dripping in rich harmony… especially a song like ‘Room Of Mirrors’. As i sat in the theater, my brain immediately went there, with both James’ vocal melodies, as well as the guitars.

Over the course of this week i was messing around on the guitar, practicing one half of the guitarmony on the bridge of ‘Room Of Mirrors’, and a cover began to develop. As i mentioned earlier, i’m not the greatest musician, so a lot of times when i cover a song i do it either from memory, or inspired from portions of the source. i can only play to my own limitations, so i’m not going to play a song similar in style to Metallica, as i’m not great at palm muting, barre chords, pinch harmonics… or even guitar in general.

The foundation of this cover was actually the vocals. After i did those, i did drums, then bass, then guitars. The original song reminded me a bit of Bad Religion (one of my favorite punk bands of all time), which may be what truly endeared me to the song (beside its wonderful lyrics). When i began developing the cover, i kind of heard a ska punk rhythm in my head, mixed with the B52s. i cannot tell you why. i also am horrible at soloing, so i didn’t even attempt to for this song. The song stays pretty much in the solid ‘pop punk’ (?) realm, i guess, with some vocal harmonies- again, which i’m not great at. But…

…i am doing my best to face my fears. i am holding that mirror up to what scares me. That said, i am a survivor of things more scary than my terrible vocals.

Metallica Fridays (no.32): Processing what i have just heard…

Friday, April 14, 2023.

This is the day many have been waiting for- the official release of the new album, 72 Seasons. jesse and i attended a global audiovisual event, held in 80 or so countries. While i am still processing the album i can say this- the album, to me, is the work (on the self and with each other) done since St. Anger. St. Anger depicted the immediacy of the struggle; 72 Seasons is a much more mature, vulnerable reading of said struggle. Sonically, it’s filled with wonder and beauty. It’s got more harmonics than any other Metallica album i’ve heard. Lyrically it’s emotionally devastating. There was so much i identified with, as i closed my eyes and just took in the music.

Interestingly, i think i may have been the only one there to sing, dance, bop around and headbang. These songs were too great NOT to.

Now that i have finally heard the album in full, listening to the songs on their own just seems a bit empty. i feel like the songs are realized in a fuller way as a whole. St. Anger (one of my favorite albums of all time) is vulnerable in a pummeling way (channeling the immediacy of a mental health struggle (as well as an acknowledgement of struggles with addiction); while the mental health struggles and internal conversations are still there; 72 Seasons is vulnerable in a more pensive, mature way. There are definitely songs i teared up at while taking them in for the first time at the event, but something tells me i’m going to cry hard, similar to how i did so for the title track.

…And the title track is where we are for this week’s post. i am tired right now (and still processing), but i did want to make this quick post. The band definitely looked to their primary influences (as well as their own albums) for inspiration, but nothing sounds derivative or uninspiring. Metallica have nothing to prove at this stage of their lives, but they continue to find ways to connect.

It’s very rare to think that an album in someone’s latter half of their catalog is among the best of what they’re done. i can say for certain that 72 Seasons is just that.

Metallica Fridays (no. 31): New House, New ‘Seasons’

The universe speaks again… i mean, it always does; the question is, do i listen or not.

As i was prepping to do this post something told me to re-look at Metallica’s 2009 Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame appearance. Flea (bass player with the red Hot Chili Peppers) gave a moving speech, in a ‘Crash Course In Brain Surgery’ t-shirt. “When I hear Metallica I get this feeling that they are doing something that they have to do. Like there is this thing in them wound up so tight they have to let it out, let that thing uncoil; it has to be released. An infinite well of sadness, a hell of a lot of pain and anger; but mostly, a lot of love for the process that they have created for releasing this stuff.” He continues, “Whatever gets thrown at them, they persevere, and they get stronger. They are a family.”

i honestly feel like this applies more to Metallica now, than it did even in 2009. i mentioned this in the last post, but i really do think they have honed in their purpose, which is, being a vehicle for connection- music just happens to be the particular vehicle they do it in. They have been through a lot of trauma, grief and pain. they have also acted out in ways that have not been the most healthy. Through a lot of conscious work they have been able to utilize their gift(s) to share with the many others who have experienced that as well. To me, it’s a bit deeper (and more spiritual) than just writing and performing a ‘Fade To Black.’

i have written about this before; however, i am thinking about it during this more current life experience. i moved into a new house; in it, we have been able to create a proper space to play music in. The room is called:

Because of course it is.

It feels really good to have a proper set of drums. Though i have played drums in several bands, i have never had a(n acoustic) set of my own. Playing an acoustic set as an amputee (versus a smaller electric set) when your amputated leg doesn’t bend all the way is NOT easy. My leg is just hanging out there, with no real support. Because of this situation i also have the drums set up differently.

The crash cymbal is much closer to me, on my left. The floor tom, i alternate between my left and right sides. The snare is farther to the right side, as i use my left foot for the kick. Despite being right handed (and have used to have played that way before the accident), i now play more like a left handed person. i had been experimenting with various ways i could set up the drums, and this is the way that’s made me happiest to play. This post is the first time i’ve recorded drums on this set, so i am still in experimentation mode. The rack tom definitely could have been mic’d a bit lower. There’s also variances in the kick, since my left foot is seemingly eternally swollen, and is not at its strongest state.

Referring to Cliff Burton’s time on earth, Flea (as part of the induction speech) said, “The worst tragedy that could ever happen to anyone- my opinion, is that when they die they never sang their song that was inside of them; they never gave the gift that was inside of them. But the beautiful opposite of that is that if you pass away, and you know that you sang your song, you gave your gift… that is the greatest accomplishment that I could ever hope for anybody.”

Despite any mistakes i made in these posts (and i made a few here), i choose to keep them in because not only is it all a learning process, but it’s also a fully human process. i have to remind myself sometimes that i survived being ragdolled by a semi truck. An 18 wheeler. Making mistakes on the drums (or any other instrument) is the LEAST of my worries in comparison. Life is hard as it is; if i lived my life hiding my process because i made a few (or more) mistakes, i’d be purposefully depriving myself of my own growth.

Clearly i don’t have the same platform as Metallica; that said, my hope is that i can share this experience of doing the best i can do with whatever physical limitations i have- and it will perhaps inspire others to ‘sing the song that’s inside of them,’ no matter how many mistakes.


i figured it would be fitting to play to a couple of songs released since our last post, from the upcoming album, 72 Seasons. These songs mean so much to me, for the reasons i stated in general on this site, and on the last and current posts. The second song released publicly from this album was ‘Screaming Suicide’. James Hetfield during live performances had been speaking openly during the middle section of ‘Fade To Black’, and giving words of encouragement to people who are either experiencing ideation, and/or have been impacted by it in some way. He would exclaim, “You are not alone!”

‘Screaming Suicide’ echoes the same sentiment in song form. Seemingly discussing the feelings of hopelessness that ensues when inundated by social media:

Craving dopamine
Then my voice appears
Teaching you of fears
Are you good enough?
You don’t recognize
Head is full of lies
You should just give up

Right on down to the usual ideation (which is more of what i experience, since i don’t have social media accounts):

Curse another day
Spirit locked away
Punish and deprive
Hate to be awake
Living a mistake
More dead than alive

Terrified in sleepless nights
Caught in spotlight dead to rights
Isolate and fight your mind
Telling you you’re left behind

This song appears to finally name what has been, up to this point, the ‘Unnamed Feeling’:

And now you speak my name
You’ve given back the blame
Keep me deep inside
Don’t you keep me inside
Screaming suicide

Even in the song’s description, Hetfield says this. “‘Screaming Suicide’ addresses the taboo word of suicide. The intention is to communicate about the darkness we feel inside. It’s ridiculous to think we should deny that we have these thoughts. At one point or another, I believe most people have thought about it. To face it is to speak the unspoken. If it’s a human experience, we should be able to talk about it. You are not alone.”

The song is very cathartic to play, in particular because i have experienced throughout my life the very thing the song discusses. i could be happy one day, and it suddenly and unexpectedly shows up. Fortunately i’ve gotten better at recognizing what to look for when i see the beginning stages, but i still have yet to prepare for the moment of an actual breakdown happening. It’s a thing i wish onto no one.

i do not know if any of the members of Metallica have experienced first hand what the lyrics entail; i can guarantee (especially based on Hetfield’s speeches during ‘Fade To Black’) that they have been impacted by it in some way, either through people close to them, or fans describing their experiences. i am certainly grateful and appreciative for the song.

(There’s a couple of seconds of no video towards the middle/end; sometimes, one file stops and starts another one. That’s what you see.)

The next song, ‘If Darkness Had A Son’ makes me happy because if my suspicions are correct, this is a direct reference to the infamous Presidio sessions, in preparation for what became the St. Anger album. ‘Temptation’ was a song James Hetfield was fighting for to be on the album, and it seems like he got his wish, 20 years later. While indeed it does make me happy (because… St. Anger), this song seemingly hearkens to a more recent rehabilitation stint Hetfield took in 2019. While this is sad, i am happy he made the decision to do it, for his health- mental, physical or otherwise.

Like many Metallica lyrics, my guess is that this song can be interpreted in various ways as well.

Return again to where it’s darkest
Dragging home this heathen harvest
And all the children subjugated
Manipulated, propagated

If darkness had a son, here I am
Temptation is his father
If darkness had a son, here I am
I bathe in holy water

It could be referencing struggles with alcohol (or other addictions); it could also be referencing the struggle one has with repeating the behaviors of their father/parent(s). This song could also be the potential accompaniment to the Unforgiven trilogy- The Un4given, if you will:

The beast still shouts for what it’s yearning
He stokes the fire, desire burning
The never-ending quenchless craving
The unforgiven misbehaving

Has that ‘light of golden treasure’ steered him off his path to the point of falling into the arms of temptation yet again? One can only guess.

With this song, it’s obvious i cannot physically play a double bass (though i do have a double pedal… One day i will get there), so i play the song in my own way, as usual.

i am just grateful that Metallica are still producing songs that have such meaning, where so many can connect with.

(At the end, you hear jesse… He didn’t see the sign that i was recording, and walked in. i didn’t see him until the end of the song. We both got a good chuckle out of it. He really likes Metallica, but he got into them a bit more recently (we went to the 40th together), and he’s not as hardcore about it as me.)

Metallica Fridays (no. 30): The Eternal Light Of Metallica

Monday, November 28.

i was in the middle of editing, when i decided to check my e mail. There was one which stood out, with its bright flashes of yellow. NEW SONG! NEW ALBUM! NEW TOUR!

Could it be, after much debate and speculation; amid a pandemic (which is still very present) and personal and collective losses, that an actual album has finally been realized? i stopped what i was doing, to listen to this song, which was included in said e mail. 44 seconds in, i already knew it was going to be beautiful.

What i didn’t know what how significant it would be to the journey.

“Come to the Church of Metallica. You’ll become a member and rejoice! You don’t have to direct anything at us. You can direct it at the experience that you’re having.” In an interview with the New Yorker, Kirk Hammett succinctly states the very thing i was feeling at the 40th anniversary shows, where i lifted my hands in prayer and repeatedly thanked the Most High for Metallica’s existence in my life. It felt so strange to do, but it felt extremely natural at the same time. It was the third time i’ve felt such a positively visceral reaction while attending a concert- the other two times were seeing Pharoah Sanders (where i cried rivers the moment he stepped on stage) and Kamasi Washington.

i do not, in any way, shape or form look at Metallica as God. It is clear that the Church spoken of is not about the worship of fallible beings, for they, both as individuals as well as a collective, are as fallible as any other human on the planet. However, from my perspective, there was a particular energy they were open to receiving that night, and i was just as ready.

‘Lux Æterna’, the song which was released on Monday, is the musical embodiment of the very thing i felt that night at the 40th. It is, indeed, the musical embodiment of, as Lars Ulrich says, “the whole energy of the universe.”


At this point, i think i have heard this song at least 80 times since its release. Maybe more.

To me, the song sounds like the result of a very difficult healing journey. Indeed, the song’s title is translated to ‘eternal light’ in Latin; while Metallica have been a major factor in my own healing journey as an amputee, this is the first song i’ve ever heard from the band, which expels actual light energy. The focus i have here is more spiritual than anything; however, i’ll focus on the material for a bit.

The song’s double kick pattern is reminiscent of Motörhead’s ‘Overkill’; the riff is clearly inspired by them as well. There are also references to Diamond Head (another massive influence to the band), as well as their own music. The song is clearly a nod to their first album, Kill ‘Em All, yet written with the wisdom and maturity of someone who, again, did a lot of the difficult healing work and self-reflection.

‘Lux Æterna’ still carries the same message that was audaciously stated in 1983: “We’ll never stop/We’ll never quit/’cause we’re Metallica”; this time, it feels more metaphysical, and more to be about the healing qualities of music itself. People have connected with this band in so many ways; decades after they are gone, their impact will still be felt in ways beyond the music.

Kill isolation
Never alone for the feelings alike
Lightning the nation
Never alive more
Than right here tonight

is light years away from

Late at night, all systems go
You’ve come to see the show
We do our best, you’re the rest
You make it real, you know

Just as

A sea of hearts beat as one, unified
All generations
Approaching thunder awaiting the light

is the realization of their evolution and inspiration, from

No life till leather
We are gonna kick some ass tonight
We got the metal madness
When our fans start screaming
It’s right well alright
When we start to rock
We never want to stop again

And the healing power of music and community is realized through the

Kindred alliance connected inside
Sonic salvation
Cast out the demons that strangle your life

While the individual experience is colored by knowing

I am taking down you know whatever is in my way

…Those things that are in the way inhibit us from being the best we can be, to ourselves, and to others.

‘Lux Æterna’ is, to me, a sibling of ‘Lords Of Summer’, an amazing song (released on the special edition of Hardwired… To Self Destruct) that also references Kill ‘Em All. It also continues the journey that ‘Hit The Lights’ and more specifically, ‘Whiplash’ began- the sentiment of the lyrics echo the slight change that’s been said in live versions for many years now: “We’ll never stop/We’ll never quit/’cause you’re Metallica!”

Rounding everything out, Lars says, “The fifth member of Metallica is the collective… People say, ‘What does Metallica mean to you?’ It’s just a fuckin’ . . . it’s a state of mind.” Metallica for me is more of a philosophical and spiritual experience than anything else, so again, not only do the words of the members of Metallica confirm this for me, but so does this song.

Speaking of Lars… Is the Black Album-era White Tama kit back? MY FAVORITE KIT IS BACK… minus a couple of rack toms and some hardware…?

That kit was the first thing i noticed in the accompanying video, the moment you could clearly see it.


On the upcoming album (of which ‘Lux Æterna’ is on), 72 Seasons, James Hetfield explains:

“72 seasons… The first 18 years of our lives that form our true or false selves. The concept that we were told ‘who we are’ by our parents. A possible pigeonholing around what kind of personality we are.”

“I think the most interesting part of this is the continued study of those core beliefs and how it affects our perception of the world today. Much of our adult experience is re-enactment or reaction to these childhood experiences. Prisoners of childhood or breaking free of those bondages we carry.”

Re-enactment or reaction.

Re-enactment or reaction. Or response. We can continue the patterns of our parents (or other adults who were there during our formative years), or reject them. To be able to acknowledge this takes a massive amount of work. It is said that ‘hurt people hurt people’, but we don’t have to. i have no idea what the rest of the album is going to sound like; while i have no doubt it will be great, i cannot say the sentiment is going to fully echo it’s first single. That said, i maintain that ‘Lux Æterna’ is the pure embodiment of love, joy and true light energy, emanating from years of (still existent) struggle, heartache and doubt.

i really do feel that Metallica was brought here to do this. No, not simply perform; but to publicly experience a particular journey, in order to come out of it, in order to see their purpose of bringing light. i really do think this is why they’ve endured as long as they have. They will always have human experiences where they make mistakes, or where they will do things i disagree with.

i am talking about something bigger than that. They are not here to be perfect. They are here to be bearers of light.


As you all know, i am an extremely basic player, and far from being that great. i don’t know all the tricks, bells and whistles, the gallops or the 16ths… While i certainly am not Robert Trujillo, the song is incredibly fun to play. i ended up pre-ordering the album, so i was able to get a link to download the song. Soon after that i began practicing it on bass. i am not playing it at all, how it’s ‘supposed’ to be played. i was actually slightly inspired by Bob Babbitt here.

After figuring out the basics, i decided to look up some bass covers of the song (of which there are many, even after three days). It amazes me how, after all these years, i still play like a guitarist, as opposed to how a bassist would play. i can’t read music; i have no idea even what notes i’m playing. i play by sound- which, i’m going to be honest, is why i would not consider myself that good of a player, or even a bassist.

Obviously, this does not stop me from having fun, or striving to be better. Given everything i’ve written in this post, i hope i haven’t disrespected the song (or the band) too much.

i am grateful to the universe for the opportunity to experience not only Metallica in my lifetime; but also the gift of their music.

Metallica Fridays (no. 29): Back at it (briefly, until i am again)

i should be getting myself ready to go to Florida (where we’re going to go see Metallica honor Marsha and Jon Zazula (who as noted in past posts were the folks who assisted the band in a major way, with the formation of Megaforce records)). i’m sure it will be a bittersweet time for them, as they reminisce and trace their roots. i anticipate having a great time, and losing my voice, screaming my heart out, along to whatever songs they do.

As i am in the middle of packing and preparing, i figured i’d post a little something, as it’s been a while. There have been many things going on in life- not wholly negative, don’t worry- and i haven’t had a lot of energy or opportunity to focus on posting. Soon enough we will return to the regular posts though. As for now, i hope you enjoy these today (and any other posts)! i certainly enjoy doing them, and i hope they make you smile. Perhaps it will inspire you to create in whatever ways give you joy.

The first post we have is my take on the premiere live performance of one of my favorites on Metallica (aka The Black Album), ‘The Struggle Within.’ Its premiere occurred in Prague, Czech Republic, on May 7, 2012. While greatly inspired by Lars (because… of course), i did put a bit of my own spin on it.

i do not in any way, shape or form profess to be that great of a drummer, but i also like to challenge myself in ways- that’s how you get better.

There are folks out there who combine particular songs with particular eras of the band, and they have this ability to capture little nuances of said eras, such as tone. One of these creators is Bryce Barilla, and he made a couple of versions of one of my favorites, ‘Trapped Under Ice’ in the spirit of …And Justice For All. i do have a version here i made a while back, where i played the bass. However, i play drums here, to the initial rendition he did of the song. As i said, i am not that great of a drummer; i cannot play that fast, consistently for 3,4 minutes, in the way the song needs. So i did it my way, and still (at least to me) kept a bit of the spirit of the original song. Also, in the spirit of Ride the Lightening i added a massive layer of reverb.

This post is covering several eras; right here we will have the opening track of my favorite Metallica album, Load: ‘Ain’t My Bitch’. While the word bitch tends to be used pejoratively in many cases, if i felt it was used in a way to demean women i in no way would post (or even listen to) the song. That said, i understand how and why some could be uncomfortable with it. It’s not even a word i use. i take the song though, given the context of the lyrics to simply mean, ‘Ain’t my problem.’

The song opens with one of my favorite things in the world pertaining to music- a slight rhythmic illusion. i always hear the opening on a different count than it actually is, because it ends on the final phrase of the riff. The song also ends with it, plus the first note that opens the riff. There were two bits during the bridge that weren’t that great (there were a couple of seconds of the video that went dark, and i kind of messed up on the drums), but the point of this site is to chart the journey, mistakes and all.

Finally, we now have the song that hooked me into the Metallica experience at the age of 14- ‘Battery’. i think that was probably my favorite song of all time back then. It also has my favorite Lars Ulrich fill of all time. i have drummed to the album version, as well as the Seattle ’89 version… Now we have the version from the November 17, 1986 performance at Aichi Kinro Kaikan in Nagoya, Japan. i absolutely love drumming to this song, mistakes and all.

Until we meet again (and hopefully that will be soon), i hope you enjoy the post.

Peeling Back The Skin (A ST. ANGER Love Story)…

i have been away for a bit (if you couldn’t tell)… The primary reason is that i’ve been working on a film. St. Anger (an album i’ve praised numerous times on this site) is an album that is seen by so many with repulsion. This film is one that charts not only my own love and appreciation for the album, but others’ love and appreciation for it as well. i know we are out there, even if it’s a small percentage of us.

The idea for doing it came as i was half joking around, saying i was going to make a documentary, and i got some encouragement to actually go through with it. Thinking i was going to be made fun of, i took a chance and announced this on the Metallica forums. There was a surprising amount of support for it.

Initially, i thought it was going to be 15 minutes of me ranting about how St. Anger needs to be respected, but what ended up happening was a deeper journey. Not only did i have to chance to begin to build positive relationships, but i also found out so much more about myself. Navigating this (new) world as an amputee, i still have anxiety about moving through the world. Despite having a history of making films and creating music, this encouraged me to push myself in ways i haven’t done in a long time.

i am so grateful to everyone who took the time to listen, to encourage, to critique and to participate. What ended up happening on film was 6 hours, but what happened beyond that will last a lifetime.

Yes… You read that correctly. 6 hours. Obviously, i don’t expect anyone to sit and watch this whole thing for six hours straight, so i am putting some ‘time stamps’, so folks know where they are, and where to go.

Part 1

  • Intro (0:00)
  • Clint And Ethan Pt. 1 (2:48)
  • The Journey/AJ/How This Came to Be (3:24)
  • Jesse (25:22)
  • Jordan (28:58)
  • Mary B (33:42)
  • Amanda (42:07)
  • Nikos (46:25)
  • Kirk/Sarah & Ralph (58:23)
  • Nick (1:05)
  • Richii (1:07)
  • Christian (1:13)
  • Rob/Lou (1:32)
  • St. Anger For Life Pt. 1/Abhimanyu (1:41)
  • Brandon (1:44)
  • James/Andreas (2:28)

Part 2

  • Casey (:24)
  • Kristen (11:41)
  • Laura/Criticisms and Extras (1:41)
  • Lars/The Songs (1:59)
  • Poetry And Messages (2:41)
  • St. Anger For Life Pt. 2 (3:05)
  • Clint And Ethan Pt. 2.5 (3:08)
  • End Credits (3:09)

Yes. Six hours. perhaps this will inspire others to make their own ‘love letters’ to St. Anger, or another beloved album. This film was a pure labor of love, with a $0 budget. i’m sure there were some mistakes that occurred (i DEFINITELY know there’s at least one. i mentioned early on that ‘Battery’ was the song in the final encore when i first saw the band, and it actually was the song before the final encore). i don’t have fancy equipment (nor am i the greatest musician on earth), so everything you see here, warts and all is again, coming from a place of great respect and appreciation- not only for the subject of this film, but everyone who contributed to this labor of love happening as well.

The interviews and segments range from the strictly musical to the more philosophical; i felt it was important to keep the flow of what people were saying with little interruption, so i chose to keep the full(er) interviews without breaks. There’s a mix of commentary, visual poetry, and music (all played by me… drums/percussion, keys, bass and guitar). While they are not exact replicas of anything, my audiovisual inspirations ranged from calls to the ancestors, to John Coltrane to Public Image Ltd. to bossa nova to avant garde cinema to of course, Metallica. i am sure i’m missing a lot of points i want to say; still i am incredibly grateful to have had this experience, and the opportunity to share it with you all. My hope is that you can listen and view with an open mind and an open heart. Perhaps you’ll learn some things; perhaps it will reignite some ideas you’ve already had.

(Almost) everything to be said about the wonderfulness of St. Anger, hopefully it’s here. Thank you for your time.

(Content Warning: Flashing lights, mentions of sexual assault, abuse, and suicide; photos with a bit of blood in them, as well as a leg that’s been amputated (no massive amounts of blood there, don’t worry).

Also, if you are interested in listening to music from the film, you can listen here.)

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!

Metallica Fridays (no. 27): Happy Anniversary…

Metallica were babies when they released their first two albums, Kill ‘Em All (July 25) and Ride The Lightning (July 27) respectively. And now as they’ve grown to be elders, they can look back at the much-cherished work they created and produced 39 and 38 years ago. In figuring out what to do for this post to commemorate this occasion, i realized i covered most of the songs off the albums. After this post, i will only have two songs left from KEA, and no songs left from Lightning.

i’m laughing listening to KEA though, because after 30 years of listening to that album, i didn’t notice all the dope things Cliff Burton was doing on bass until much, much later. The bass tends to be low in the mix with this band (one of the biggest critiques i have about the earlier albums), but if you listen carefully, he is doing these amazing runs and trills and counter-rhythms. There’s a reason the dude had his own song on their first album (‘Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth’))- one of the few times a bassist is highlighted in a metal band. You think he’s playing with the rhythm guitar, but he’s off doing something else.

‘No Remorse’ (from KEA) is a perfect example of this. You need a really good system or headphones to really hear what Cliff is doing. The intro riff one of my top 3 on that whole album; they write so many riffs they just stick them in random spots, making the song a little more interesting. Any performances they do of the song in more recent years, they take out that whole bridge, which is a part i love. The song also has the beloved (at least by me) rhythmic illusion. i can’t be the only one who counts differently when the verse riff initially comes in.

i also always have to laugh because in the final verse, Hetfield sings “We are ready to kill all comers,” but it always gets misheard as “all drummers.” i messed up a bit here, but what is life if you don’t make mistakes once in a while?

i wanted to switch it up a bit for the final song on KEA, ‘Metal Militia’. Instead of following along with the thrash original, i decided to make it swing a bit. Does that make the song less metal? Perhaps.

Or perhaps the song is now more metal. Hmmmmmmmm…

This next song, i have been avoiding. It was the final song left from Ride The Lightning, so i figured the best way to do it was to not be on camera.

As i was creating the base for ‘Fade To Black’ (which was drums), i omitted vocals so i would be able to get through the song. i played as much to the song as possible, but it was the only thing i did that relatively ‘matched’ the song. Even without the vocals you could still hear some bleedthrough (as well as my own head singing the song), so it took everything out of me not to break down. The more i worked on the song i did leave the vocals in, but i ended tuning them out just so i could, again, get through the song.

i took musical cues (obviously), but like most of these covers i do from scratch, they end up sounding not very much like the original…. because i know how to play to my limitations. i know what lane i can go in musically, while at the same time doing my best to honor the original- which is what i hope i’ve done, and continue to do.

The song (which originally was said to be about getting some instruments stolen) has taken a life (if you can say that) of its own. James Hetfield is now describing the song in recent times as being about ending one’s life; he’s also been regularly announcing that those who are struggling in whatever way are not alone, and to please find someone to speak to. The first time i can recall him speaking to not being alone was at the 40th anniversary shows in 2021. i was taken aback (and figured, as i mentioned at the time) that there were a few things he said at the shows that seemed to indicate he was going through something. When he announced this year on stage in Brazil about his mental health struggles, i figured my hunch was correct.

What he said at the 40th Anniversary show didn’t hit me until the next day, and i kept a lot of my thoughts inside until i couldn’t anymore. And i cried rivers.

As a person who has on several occasions attempted to end my life; as a person who struggles every day with depression, the song is extremely difficult for me to listen to. The lyrics speak succinctly about the very feelings i had when i’ve made attempts, and even when i’ve thought about doing it. Many days are better than others, and some days i just don’t feel like even getting out of bed. Even though i’ve learned to like myself at the age of 39 (and love myself at the age of 42), i still ask myself some days (as i am about to be 46) if it’s all worth it. i do live with survivor’s guilt (as a person who almost died but survived an accident that forever altered my body); i feel like people see me as better than i actually feel about myself, when it comes to some things. i found out ways i can manage all of these complex feelings and experiences, but none of it is easy.

One thing that really does help is playing and creating music. i really do hope anyone who reads these posts and listens understands the respect i aim and hope to give these beautiful songs that have meant so much to me.

(All instruments- drums, guitar, bass and keys are by me, except for lead solo (Hammett- one of his greatest) and vocals (Hetfield))

Metallica Fridays (but today it’s Monday) (no. 26): The Ktulu Trio

It has been some week… i was pretty wiped out from getting a booster (which will be helpful since i’m actually going to see Metallica next month- Wheeeeeeeeee); i also was pretty busy with meetings and organizing work, where i wasn’t able to get a post in. Also… My brain since the accident randomly decides to shut down, and there’s points where i don’t seem able to do things in effective ways. It’s also much more difficult to understand, for example, group chats, in the way i used to be able to. i am wondering if this is a latent effect of a concussion.

So of course, there are times when i’m playing instruments, and i will get really extreme brain farts, despite me playing the same part a minute prior. Playing music and writing have been really helpful for my brain’s activity. Thinking about all of this sometimes gives me massive depression; i am definitely grateful to the universe that i am still able to process things as much as i can, and that i didn’t suffer as much damage to my brain as i could have.

That said, we are still here, and i guess there will be two ‘Metallica Fridays’ posts this week. Given that i hadn’t done any songs from the ‘Ktulu’ series yet, i figured i’d just put them all together.

Though i am aware of the legend of Cthulhu (primarily from Metallica, as well as some friends who were fond of the writings of H.P. Lovecraft), i always avoided any writings because of the author’s massively racist history, which friends of mine who enjoyed his writings struggled with (he infamously called a cat friend of his a certain racial epithet). While his views (very) slightly shifted towards the end of his life after the nazi rise to power (as well as whatever KKK fallout occurred at that time); looking into it though, his politics were still massively problematic. In the latter part of his life (the dude died in 1937), he still held massively anti-African and anti-Jewish beliefs. In a letter to Catherine Lucille Moore (dated 1936), he still believed in the concept of “biological inferiority” and the “sub species”. i know that many people tend to separate the art from the artist, regardless of how problematic the artist is. i listen to lots of music where the artists don’t necessarily share the same ideological framework as i do… however, there is a fine line i do have, when it comes to art, and racism is one of them.

Despite the fact that Lovecraft died believing in the pseudo-science of racial superiority on some level; the songs Metallica got out of his writings are quite good, so i guess i will stick with that. Just to make this easier, we will go chronologically.

‘The Call Of Ktulu’ is the first in the series, the final song hailing from 1984’s Ride The Lightning. As usual, i had a particular idea how i wanted to do this song, and it ended up as a whole different thing. Also as usual, the drum was the skeleton for the rest of the song. The keys came next, then bass, then guitar. i play guitar, but i am in no way, shape or form a guitarist… But i won’t say i’m a bassist or keyboardist either! Am i a drummer though? That’s up to you to answer.

i didn’t listen to the song at all while crafting this cover- so while the theme is obviously similar, it has a different feel. i’ve heard the song enough times to know how it goes, heh heh… It is always interesting to create something from memory, from scratch.

(Drums, keys, guitar and bass are all by me. The intro is by nature.)

‘The Thing That Should Not Be’ (from 1986’s Master Of Puppets) is the PERFECT Lars Ulrich song, and i took advantage of that. While he certainly is notorious for doing fills all over the place, i honestly don’t think he does as many as people joke about- at least not on record. The China cymbal is another story…

i honestly love his style (as most people who read this site know), and he is a major inspiration for what i do. His style is often imitated, but never duplicated. Really, NO ONE drums like the guy. That said, ‘Thing’ is fill city, for sure (just as songs like ‘Wherever I May Roam’ are). So of course i took that opportunity to just visit and chill in fill city. and even so, i still probably didn’t do as many fills as Lars. ‘Thing’ is a great Cliff Notes (no pun intended) edition of the Cthulhu/Ktulu legend. Metallica, as i keep saying, can write dope songs in their sleep.

‘Dream No More’ (from 2016’s Hardwired… To Self Destruct) is my absolute favorite of the ‘Ktulu’ trio. It is also my 24th favorite Metallica song of all time. The song is massively slept on, and goes hard. As the album is more of a nod to their NWOBHM roots, ‘Dream’ has got a Sabbath influence all over it. The pre-chorus riff, as well as the intro/bridge/almost end riff are among my favorites in their whole catalog. i mean, this whole song is filled with excellent riffs thoughout.

If i could only write a riff this good…

Interestingly, my primary influence for drumming this song is not Lars, but Stevie Wonder.

Metallica Fridays (no. 25): Working Through Music While Experiencing ‘The Unnamed Feeling’…

A day late, i know… This week had been building up in ways that are hard to explain. People ask how you are, and you don’t know how to answer. Nothing of note is tragically horrible in your life, but you just feel a particular inexplicable way.

Then all of a sudden, it happens. As you feel things building you work to manage it in whatever way you can, and it still hits you like a ton of bricks.

i wish depression on no one. The unnamed feeling is very real.

i still wanted to make a post though, despite being in the throes of depression. Sometimes that actually helps me to feel better. In preparing for this post, parts of it certainly helped me to feel better, but honestly, parts of it didn’t. Parts of it, i cried.

This site is an exploration of all things: the improvements and the mistakes, the happy and the not-so-happy. i tend to write about these things, but i never film it.

As you may know (if you’ve been following this site), i tend to post songs that i am particularly feeling, or inspired by at the moment. ‘The House Jack Built’ has been on my mind for a while. It’s also my 12th favorite Metallica song of all time. i tend to have no problems listening to it, nor does it trigger my depression. For some reason, the song spoke to me this week in ways it hadn’t before.

Growing up with a mother who had an alcohol addiction, and struggling with addictions of my own (which were pretty close to being triggered this week), the song speaks to me in that way. However, the song spoke to me this week, as if it was reading to be about depression itself.

Open my eyes just to have them close again
Well on my way, but on my way to where I’ve been
It swallows me as it takes me in its fog
I twist away as I give this world the nod

Open my eyes just to have them closed once again
Don’t want control
As it takes me down and down and down again
Is that the moon or just a light that lights this dead-end street?
Is that you there or just another demon that I meet?

You fall into a pit you feel you can’t get out of, and sometimes you just wait and hope it goes away. You exist in the world and are functioning as a being, but there’s a whole other life lurking.

i chose to film this as i was in the deepest part of my depression at this moment. There were 50 million things going on in my head, and it was difficult to focus on even playing drums, but i did it. Any mistakes i made or anxiety i had, i just played through it all. There were a bunch of things coming up for me as i was playing, and that’s what you see on my face.

i already made songs inspired by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich (sortakinda), and i felt inspired to do a Kirk Hammett-themed song. It was a bit of a distraction from this recent episode i am experiencing.

While there were a couple of things i had in mind, as usual, what i first had in mind never ends up as the end result. i initially had a particular riff in my head, but i ended up using the drum as the base of the song, then writing the ‘lyrics’ (aka the clips) around the drums. Then i played the bass in a way which followed whatever Kirk was saying/singing. The drums were actually inspired by Lars (but what’s new?), and the bass lines were inspired by Public Image Ltd.

People who know me well enough (at least in relation to Metallica) know how much i absolutely love Kirk Hammett. Even though my first musical love was the drums (despite the guitar being the first instrument i seriously played), teenage me (and even adult me) always connected with Kirk- his shyness, his awkwardness and his passion for the things he loves. i did my best to capture those things with this song.

My favorite thing about this song though? The cats.

Because cats are the greatest beings to ever be on this earth. i love all animals (and have been a vegan for 28 years strong), but i am not ashamed to say that cats are my favorite ever people.