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.

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.


There’s music i’ve liked over the years, that (at least to me) has not particularly been attached to a scene. There’s record labels that have served as the base for particular scenes or genres: Blue Note (jazz); Megaforce (metal); Nonesuch (classical); Nervous (hip hop and house); Lookout! (East Bay punk)… For all intents and purposes, Minneapolis-based Amphetamine Reptile predominately has featured ‘noise rock’ bands (like the Cows, Today Is The Day and Unsane), but the label has also had bands such as Servotron and Supernova. i used to have a gang of AmRep releases on vinyl, and ended up selling a bunch of my records in order to move to another state. Little did i know that these records would go out of print and become incredibly difficult to find- and if you do see them floating around, they’re being sold for a ton of money.

i was actually listening to Supernova’s Ages 3 And Up (an album i actually used to have on vinyl, and currently have on CD, which was released on AmRep/Atlantic), and i thought to myself, ‘perhaps i should make a post featuring some AmRep bands’… So here we are. Since i’ve already mentioned Supernova (a band who is pretty fun live), i will post one of their songs first.

On ‘Invasion’ (from the above mentioned album), Art Mitchell (the bassist) plays one of my favorite riffs on the whole album. Not only is the bass the lead instrument here, but it’s a major component of Supernova as a whole. While many of the songs are inspired by science fiction, this is a song where the band spell out their name in the chorus.

‘Some Sara’ by Boss Hog (from the 10″ EP Girl +, which i do have the vinyl of in a box somewhere in another state), has some cowbell in the background- my guess is that it was recorded with the vocal mics? One of my favorite things about this band has always been the drums; very simple and tom heavy, Hollis (who also played guitar in the band Lo-Hi) had a punk rock style. i have met everyone in this band, but i used to know and hang out with Hollis and Jens (bassist). They were cool, humble peoples. i hope they’re all doing well.

Everyone in this post, i have seen live at least once. Helmet, i have seen about twice. As a punk/hardcore kid, i was really into their ‘stripped down noise’, as well as their desire to stay away from the 4/4. i am certainly not as good of a drummer as John Stanier, but ‘Ironhead’ (from Meantime, in which the vinyl edition was on AmRep and the CD/cassette version was on Interscope) is perhaps my favorite Helmet song of all time, so i wanted to try it out.

The main riff actually does remind me of the intro riff to Metallica’s ‘No Remorse’, just downtuned. i have no idea if that’s just me.

And finally… we have (the) Melvins, one of my favorite bands of all time, and a band i have seen about 3 or 4 times live. My playing doesn’t even compare to Dale Crover, one of my favorite drummers. Dude goes hard.

i should have worn my fro out for this one, in solidarity with my fellow fro wearer, Buzz Osborne.

‘Night Goat’ was originally released on 7″ (on AmRep), then reworked on the Houdini album (which was released on vinyl on AmRep, and CD/cassette on Atlantic). Lori Black (aka Lorax) was credited with playing bass on this song/album, but i think it was Crover who actually did. i’m playing the album version. Initially playing to this song, i did it similar to Crover, with more kick. When i record though, sometimes what i’ve practiced beforehand isn’t even present. This is exactly what happened with this song. What ended up happening is that LARS came out. i can’t seem to get away from it. His playing is in my subconscious. If you know Lars’ style, you know what i mean. i love Lars, so i’m not complaining. Still…

i think this was the first Melvins song i posted. Perhaps i will do a whole Melvins post. We shall see…

Metallica Fridays (no. 24): Giving Love To The Most Hated…

i have never seen this television show (Stranger Things), but i have heard so much about ‘Master Of Puppets’ being featured, and how it’s given rise to the song’s resurgence/popularity amongst folks who may not have previously been fans or appreciators of the band. As a person who first got into the band at the age of 14 (in between Justice and right around the release of The Black Album (or Metallica, for those who are not familiar with the oft-named alternate title), i’m sure there are people who would have thought i was a poseur, for getting into them around the height of their popularity. i mean, people lamented that they ‘sold out’ because they had acoustic guitars and a ‘ballad’ on their second album. James Hetfield mentioned in an interview how someone spit on him because his band made a music video.

i’m honestly not sure how anyone could ‘gatekeep’ what is literally the biggest, most well-known metal band in the world. Their music is played in films all the time. People were exposed to them because they had a VIDEO GAME based on their music. As a matter of fact, in reading about this recent turn of events, i discovered that ‘The Four Horsemen’ (from Kill ‘Em All, their (much-beloved by the most hardcore ‘Metallica died after Cliff died’ crowd) FIRST ALBUM) was featured in an earlier season.

So why were people not in an uproar about that, but for some reason people are popping blood vessels because of ‘Puppets’?

i always say (and i am sure i mentioned it in this post, where i played to the song) that ‘Puppets’ and ‘One’ are objectively the two greatest Metallica songs. They are songs i always play when introducing someone to the band, so the fact that the creators of the show introduced anyone not familiar with them to that song, i can’t say it’s a bad thing at all.

People began griping about the ‘new wave of Stranger Things fans’ somehow infiltrating and breaking through the iron-clad wall of the Metallica fortress. The band has had several responses:

  1. “Everyone is welcome in the Metallica Family. If they like Puppets, chances are they’ll find plenty of other songs to get into.”
  2. “FYI- EVERYONE is welcome in the Metallica family. Whether you’ve been a fan for 40 hours or 40 years, we all share a bond through music. All of you started at ground zero at one point in time.”
  3. They made videos acknowledging their support of the show.

i suppose i can be considered one of the ‘older folks in that base- middle period’, since i also saw them live in 1991. As a person who went to the 40th anniversary shows with one of my closest friends- a person who only became familiar with them MONTHS before he went to the show with me- i can attest they will continue to reach many types of people outside of the metal community. i mean, despite me liking some metal, i’m in no way, shape or form a metalhead. i’m more of a punk kid, jazz is my favorite music, and i love house music. But Metallica definitely has been one of my favorite bands over the years.

Another thing which has happened apparently, is that several people decided to sarcastically ‘recommend’ St. Anger and Lulu to folks who may have discovered the band through Stranger Things. i don’t have social media accounts, so when folks told me about this, silly little me thought these recommendations were sincere.

But i forgot that it’s social media we’re talking about.

These sarcastic comments are what’s actually inspired today’s post. As most who follow this site already know by now, i absolutely love and adore St. Anger. While it is not my absolute favorite album (Load still sits on the top of my list) St. Anger has become one of my top 5. It is also the album i listen to the absolute most in their catalog.

People do talk about the album being one you have to be in the mood for to listen to; i’d say that goes for every album on earth. i don’t disagree at all with comments that describe it as a perfect album when you are angry or depressed. The album has become much more significant to me than that. i think the album encompasses so much more than anger- despite the title. People consider St. Anger to be the band’s rawest album; i don’t think the album is any more or less raw than Load, which again, walked so St. Anger could run. Also, like Load and ReLoad, it’s fun listening to the variations in the left and right channels, something that was not as distinguishable with prior albums. Maybe it’s the punk kid in me that cherishes the album; maybe it’s the fact that it’s a therapeutic set of songs. It’s an album that charted the introduction of a band who was forced to face self-reflection and maturity.

As much as i love and adore the album, it’s not one i expect everyone to like. i’m not naive or dazed enough by my own appreciation for it to see why it’s a polarizing work. Whether or not people like it though- one thing i know for sure is that people need to respect it.

i hope that one person (or 10) who finds that ‘recommendation’ picks up St. Anger and actually loves it.

Now onto the song: ‘Sweet Amber’, a song which, sadly, they have only played live one time- 2004, in Lubbock, Texas. While the song’s primary narrative is driven by the band ultimately being forced to do some type of radio promotion (as depicted in Some Kind Of Monster); like many of their songs, there are veiled and/or vague references to addiction: “Chase the rabbit, fetch the stick/She rolls me over ’til I’m sick/She deals in habits, deals in pain/I run away but I’m back again

My favorite lyrics in the song though, are these:

She holds the pen that spells the end
She traces me and draws me in

i do not follow Lars much at all, in terms of the playing, save for a couple of things (if you know the original song- which you should- you’ll know what i mean). i was just having a bit of fun, and this is what ended up happening.

Admittedly, i only heard Lulu a couple of years or so after its official 2011 release. i was having a conversation with a friend about Metallica, and he had mentioned the album. The first two songs i heard were ‘Brandenburg Gate’ and ‘The View’, and i was so distracted by Lou Reed that i didn’t necessarily give attention to the whole work. i’ve never been much into Reed’s delivery at all- i was never a fan of the Velvet Underground or his solo stuff (at least not until his Buddhism-inspired instrumental works). Upon first listen of these Lulu tracks i said, ‘OH NOOOOOOOOOO… WHY??!!’

i then of course actually listened to (and got) the album some time later, and i ended up having an appreciation for it. This gets singularly declared a Lou Reed album (with Metallica as backup), but to me it’s as much their album as it is his. While i’m still not that fond of Reed’s delivery i’m not as dismissive as i was upon first listening, because in many ways it’s actually effective. i know that the poetry is inspired by/based on the Lulu plays by Frank Wedekind; some of it is incredibly difficult to listen to though, and not only because of the delivery. That said, one of the greatest/most effective pieces in this whole album is ‘Junior Dad’, a song i have been known to defend as much as i do St. Anger. i know people tend to make fun of the song (due to its almost 20-minute length, as well as the fact that it’s on Lulu); however, it’s an incredibly moving piece on resentment and growing older, and was actually a perfect way for Reed to go out.

i haven’t even talked about Metallica yet. They were wonderful on Lulu. They had the arduous (for lack of a better word) task of backing up Lou Reed, who notoriously did not suffer fools. They proved they were up for that task, banging out some glorious riffs. They produced some solid tone poems, and it’s something i would love to hear more of from them.

‘Iced Honey’ (the first song i play here from Lulu) is one of those songs where Reed’s cynical delivery is effective.

If I can’t trap a butterfly or a bee
If I can’t keep my heart where I want it to be
If no matter how much soul and heart
I put to the wood
If a flaming heart is not that good

A caged bird is going to always find a way to escape; and even if they physically are not able to do so, their heart is never as cold as the one who cages them.

It’s another song where, like the rest of the songs on this post, i did not follow Lars. While there were some clear ‘Larsisms’, i just went where the music took me, and it sounds nothing like the original (again, listen to the original, and you will see…).

i just hope i did an okay job.

And finally… Say it with me: I AM THE TABLE.

Yes, last but certainly not least, we have ‘The View’, one of the first songs (again) i ever heard from the album. This song (of course) met a life of its own (because… table); however, in the context of the whole album i actually appreciate it. It reads as a conflict between the moral and immoral, the holy and the sinful, and the religiosity of things- that is, that which consists of habits.

I am the truth, the beauty
That causes you to cross
Your sacred boundaries

i have no idea if any folks who became familiar with the band through the show will see this site; if you happen to stop through- welcome, and i hope you enjoy what you hear. While the posts i have here are songs from two of the most lambasted albums in the band’s catalog, these are songs i definitely appreciate; and i hope, as always, others can find some value, joy or inspiration out of them.

Metallica Fridays (no. 23): Imaginings And Interpretations

Carved upon my stone
My body lie but still I roam

i have no idea why, but that gets to me every time. The chord which envelopes the lyric (which is a C if i’m not mistaken, and is the only time i think it’s played) is one of the most moving in the song- ‘Wherever I May Roam’. Jason Newsted’s bass dances around the chord as it’s left hanging for a few counts, while Lars Ulrich plays in half time. It’s a quick change- as an exclamation or declaration of sorts, before returning to the main theme of the song.

Carved upon my stone
My body lie but still I roam

As i’m still not able to physically travel far to many places without assistance; my mind is still able to travel as far as it’s ever traveled. To echo the sentiment of a lyric Gladys Knight once sang, using my imagination is a way for me to ‘keep on keepin’ on.’ It is with this feeling that i connect with the song.

As simple as Lars’ drumming is during the bulk of the ‘Bob Rock years’ (in comparison to previous albums… and even from St. Anger on), there’s a range of interesting fills and time changes he does, which i never noticed until much later. His drums during this era are mixed with a particular ‘wetness’ that makes it cinematic. As does ‘Roam”s electric sitar intro by Kirk Hammett.

It is a well-crafted song, in a sea of many other well-crafted songs.

One of my favorite things about ‘Ride The Lightning’ is the rhythmic illusion-type intro. i cannot be the only person who listens to that song, and the riff turns around after the drums kick in. After playing it 20,000 times on drums, it doesn’t happen as much, but it’s still there.

This song is similar to ‘One’ in that it’s a fairly plainly spoken perspective of someone floating in between life and death- except in ‘One’, that person wants to die, because they have no capacity to see what is going on around them. They are being forced to exist by those who want to use him as an example. In ‘Ride The Lightning’ they are moments away from leaving this earth at the hands of an electric chair. Both songs humanize both characters. In ‘One’, the character is asking God to awaken him from what has to be a dream; if this is reality, he wants to be taken away. In ‘Ride The Lightning’, the character is experiencing a nightmare (but it’s real life), and asks those who have the ability to pull the plug, “Who made you God to say/’I’ll take your life from you?'” Both characters are in situations beyond their control, and outside human forces are controlling whether or not they live.

Whether or not that was the intent, ‘Ride The Lightning’ can be seen as a rumination on the death penalty, just as ‘One’ can be seen as a rumination on assisted suicide. But as with many songs in the Metallica oeuvre, there can be more than one interpretation.

Debut Albums & First Tracks…

One of the key components to deciding an album’s effectiveness is sequencing- not an easy task. The first song (if done effectively) sets the stage for the rest of the album. For a debut album, that song sets the mission statement, if you will.

As mentioned in other posts, one of my greatest drumming inspirations (when i was regularly playing in bands with folks) was Hugo Burnham of Gang Of Four. The band’s debut album, Entertainment!, is one of the greatest post punk/punk albums of all time. Of course it was one of those albums that contributed to my burgeoning political analysis as a teenager and young adult.

‘Ether’ is one of the greatest examples of a band decisively producing their mission statement. The song (which is about how British imperialist forces stole Northern Ireland) matches the theme of the album’s cover, which plays upon the land and human exploitation by those who came from Britain, into the u.s.: “The Indian smiles, he thinks that the cowboy is his friend. The cowboy smiles, he is glad the Indian is fooled. Now he can exploit him.”

The song has two perspectives; one of the invader/colonizer, and the invaded/colonized.

Dig at the root of the problem (Fly the flag on foreign soil)
It breaks your new dreams daily (H-block Long Kesh)
Father’s contradictions (Censor six counties’ news)
And breaks your new dreams daily (Each day more deaths)

At the end, it addresses the interest in the land is both to control its people, but also to exploit resources:

You’re looking out for pleasure (Under Rockall)
It’s at the end of the rainbow (There may be oil)
The happy ever after (under Rockall)
It’s corked up with the ether (There may be oil)
It’s corked up with the ether (under Rockall)

It does make me wonder how many people were dancing to the reggae and funk-laced punk rhythms of Gang Of Four, The Mekons, Delta 5, The Slits and other bands, without actually listening to the messages- just how people today had no awareness that Rage Against The Machine was a ‘political’ band, despite the extremely clear messages in every song.

And as you may already know, i love a good 16th note disco beat (and some funk bass) in punk and metal. Those discordant guitars add to the counter-rhythms, making post-punk some of my favorite music.

Look Sharp! (as well as the next one or two albums) by Joe Jackson got lumped in with the wave of post punk/pub rock bands of the late 70s, such as Ian Drury, Elvis Costello and Lene Lovich. While each of those artists had a distinct sound of their own, i recognize the similarities enough in how people are able to frame particular artists in particular compartments. Joe Jackson probably departed from a lot of that on the greatest level (with Declan Mcmanus/Costello as a pretty close second), as he fairly quickly began diversifying his craft by covering Louis Jordan, Duke Ellington, paying tribute to Sonny Rollins and Nuyorican culture, adding classical elements (eventually making whole classical albums), adding the great Sue Hadjopoulos on congas, and more.

In ‘One More Time’ (the introductory song of Look Sharp!) Gary Sanford’s intro riff (one of my favorites) slightly echoes Nile Rogers (even if subconsciously). Graham Maby (one of the greatest, most underrated rock bassists of all time) comes in, with one of my favorite bass lines of all time. Dave Houghton comes in strong with one of the greatest uses of the toms in a chorus.

In the earlier years, Maby (who still plays with Joe Jackson, and is the only OG player who does), used to DOWNPICK this riff- and they played it MUCH faster live! He now alternate picks it, which is understandable.

i only saw NoMeansNo live once in the mid 1990s; however, i am incredibly glad i got to see them before their retirement in 2016. They are one of my favorite bands of all time, and while i in no way, shape or form as good a drummer as John Wright, he has definitely been a massive inspiration- i was actually in a band (my first band, actually, where i played guitar) where we covered ‘Two Lips, Two Lungs And One Tongue’ from Wrong.

Speaking of Wrong… While Mama, Sex Mad and Small Parts Isolated And Destroyed (albums i had on vinyl) are excellent ‘modern post-punk’ albums with funk and jazz elements; in keeping up with the theme of this post, ‘It’s Catching Up’ (the opening song on Wrong, released in 1989) came with a different kind of power. My favorite NoMeansNo song of all time is another one that intros an album (‘Now’, from 1991’s 0+2=1); that said, ‘It’s Catching Up’ is pretty solid competition. NoMeansNo are one of those bands who have never had a bad album.