I have always been amazed at how people have been upset with Metallica ever since the release of their self-titled “black” album. I remember someone in high school walking up to a friend and saying “the second song says it all, sad but true, they’ve sold out”. Two songs did the band in, The Unforgiven and Nothing Else Matters. How could they release two ballads? They’ve turned their back on all of us, they’re sell outs. People expected them, and still to a degree are still clamoring for them to release Master Of Puppets II. Often times I encounter this opinion from people that have never picked up an instrument in their lives, and have never felt the need to evolve at anything. Taking this into consideration it would be similar to never leaving your first job, your parents’ house, or anything else that would stifle your growth as a person. I have never had a need for compiling a worst of anything, there are too many good things out there to dwell on a worst of list. Even if you’re a Metallica fan from back in the day and can’t appreciate anything post And Justice, you have four great albums, and an EP you can listen to, and I’m sure there are other bands out there that fit in your nice little box of approval.
Has everything the band ever put out been golden? Of course not, name a band that hasn’t released any clunkers. I enjoy the bands entire catalog, I find something good on pretty much everything they’ve put out, except for S&M which to me is way too busy, it’s like listening to two things at the same time, instead of one concise piece. I also do not care for Lulu, the bands continuous attempt to be accepted by the indie press. The music isn’t bad, but I’ve never really been a fan of Lou Reed, and if you couple that with non-sense like him saying “spermless like a girl” for seven minutes, well it kind of makes the album a one and done for me. But that’s my opinion, I know there are those that like both, I have no issue with that, if an album doesn’t connect with me personally, it does not mean that you or someone else cannot enjoy it.
I have always felt that the band have had too many yes men around them allowing them to put these two albums together, another example is their rendition of One at the Grammys a few years back with Chinese composer and pianist Lang Lang. Where does the band stand to benefit from this performance? They are the biggest metal band of all time, one of the last few stadium bands. How does that appearance further anything in their careers? What piece of merch does it sell? In their documentary Some Kind Of Monster Lars’ dad Torben pretty much tells him how a piece of music is well a piece of crap that does not represent the band. They need more people like that in their corner.
Along with being the biggest band, they also probably have the largest amount of haters. A few years ago when the album Metallica became the biggest selling album of the Soundscan Era people started posting “that’s the album where they sold out, not a great accomplishment”. This attitude makes zero sense to me, so instead of being proud of it being a metal artist over any other artist would make you think it would be a rallying point. Maybe you don’t like the album, but my train of thought is I would rather Metallica have that distinction over Shania Twain, Garth Brooks, Michael Jackson or The Eagles. AC/DC’s Back In Black isn’t that far behind, I’ve yet to hear an AC/DC fan say “oh no, that’s the album where they sold out”. You have fans that say “I prefer the Bon Scott era, but I’m glad it’s an AC/DC album.”
Metal fans are the most loyal, to an extent, they’re loyal to their small piece of the pie. Arguments over what’s is or isn’t metal, true metal, kult, etc. have fragmented the genre since grubby marketers got their hands on everything during the 80s. I’ve witnessed a festival with Journey, Hatebreed, Devil Driver, Crucified Barbara, and Marilyn Manson (to name a few). How could something like that be pulled off in the US? Impossible, the attitude isn’t there, there is little open mindedness within the fans to accept something like that. Remember fans going ape shit over Slayer and Marilyn Manson touring? Look at the US Festival, metal day, it represented us back in the day. Quiet Riot, Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, Triumph, Scorpions and Van Halen. First off a good percentage of bands would be panned the lineup as not being metal, second they’re too different for someone to make this type of pairing. You look at the touring bills in the states and its all bands that sound alike so it is easier to market. It is a shame because I don’t know of any other thing in life where people are so dead set on just accepting one flavor. Don’t think too many people that just want to eat spaghetti every day. Why do music fans pigeon hole themselves and debilitate the genre this way?
Metal fans are passion, they’re the best and worst music fans due to the habitual nature to fragment the scene, and not appreciate what they have before them. You don’t have to think everything is a golden nugget, there are definitely some golden turds as well. But I do think you should respect what bands like Metallica have done. At the end of the day, they aren’t releasing Back Street Boys type music.
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