Okay, let’s start here. If you please, follow the link and read the article. It’s interesting as hell and I can wait, I’ve got laundry in.
So, the world hasn’t ended then, right? However…
A couple of nights ago my wife arrived home from work, rushing in and interrupting whatever I was listening to on the CD player to try and bring up the infamous KROQ on the house tuner.
“Ah, what’cha doin?” I asked holding a Sierra Nevada in one hand and long wiry cat toy in the other, a large and enthusiastic feline mesmerized at my feet.
“You have to hear this…” she exclaimed enigmatically; excitedly. There was a hint of disblief in her voice. However, without an antenna we apparently have no trouble getting KCRW (thank god, Saturday nights with Dan Wilcox are, at this point, a must) but not the mega-wattage silo of what passes for ‘indie’ music these days.
“They were playing the entire new Metallica album and… well… it sounded like old Metallica.”
“Yeah right. They probably ran ‘Justice’ through a pitch shifter or something.”
My wife is no fool, and she knows music as well as I do, so even though I played this off I was intrigued/concerned/worried and dare I say maybe even… excited? Good god, you’ve all seen in print how I feel about these clowns. I wrote about it somewhere on here I think but now cannot find the link. But it’s here, probably long-winded and can be summed up simply as: I hate them.
I know, I know, most of us who were in Junior High School back in the late 80’s do hate them now, so Boo Hoo. This has been a non-issue for some time, and really a wound that healed before I hit 20. But now there is talk of a return? On one hand I wanted to know what some of you no doubt want to know right now – WHO FUCKING CARES AND WHY DOES IT MATTER? I worried that I was slightly akin to another musical douche, Billy ‘God is empty’ Corrigan, who has been unable to let anything from his teenage life go for the last two decades (but he made money at it). Yet at the same time there was curiosity, and it was revving flames deep down in the part of me that used to hang out beneath underpasses smoking Marlboro lights, spray painting ‘Metallica’ and ‘Slayer’ on the stone support pillars and waiting to meet a real live Satan worshipper… or at least a Kelly Bundy look alike who might let me feel her up (neither ever materialized, much to the chagrin of my young, rebellious self).
The curiosity now, almost 2 decades later comes from the fact that I think deep down all of us who were in the same shitty boat when our captains of young adult rebellion, the amazing Metallica turned around and showed us their arses even while cashing all the checks and trading in their thrash digs for slick dress, short hair and bland, alterna-nu-metal crap music; we all wanted to have a return to the way things were.
2008 and even though I’ve grown and found out why those first four albums, as good as they were, are now mostly irrelevant to me*, a new, ‘good’ Metallica album is by the very nature of the anomally something that seems to have gotten stuck in my CD player. The novelty will wear out in a week or so, but I won’t mind coming back to this one, minus a few lame tracks as exceptions.
But how can we explain what has happened here? Comeback albums, reunions and all the like almost never work. Remember the Beach Boys and ‘Kokomo’?** What about Axel Rose and GnR’s comeback? Oh, wait, that hasn’t actually ever happened yet, right? Still, we know how it’ll be based on the live bootlegs and images of Axel’s nappy ass head…
Surprisingly and perhaps as some sort of strange cultural precedent, 2008 has had several excellent comeback/reunion albums thus far. First there was Bauhaus’ GO AWAY WHITE right at the beginning of the year. Amazing album, fit right in with where their previous studio efforts seemed to be going when they disbanded or whatever over 20 years ago. How often does that happen? Then there was Portishead and their first album in what? 10 years?
Not to mention a return to the live with their album THIRD, which is, for my money, the best damn Portishead album yet and the only one I feel absolutely passionate about having to own.
So what’s the deal with ’08? I’m not sure, but I think I know what the deal with the Metallica album is. Three words:
Rick Fucking Rubin.
Now, I don’t care for everything Mr. Rubin puts his mind to. RHCP can fuck off back to the beach for all I care***, and System of a Down, well, blahh! But largely Mr. Rubin has some pretty good strategies for realizing potential, and I think that’s what happened with ol’ Metal&Vodka here. The album clearly sounds, to some degree, as if Mr. Rubin sat back, lit a big ol’ stogie and helped James and the boys ‘realize’ what it was about Metallica that had been present early on and sorely lacking for the last decade and a half while they ran around raising horses, selling paintings, driving sports cars and crying over therapy with the fifth toe, Davey Mustaine.
So aside from what I feel are a few missteps, this is a pretty tight metal album. The more I listen to it, the more I like it, which again, is still taking some getting used to. I mean, I had written them off, didn’t even bat an eyelash when St. Asshead came out, and now this. Who’d have thunk it, right? I suppose one factor I should not ignore is that this is the first album with Robert Trujillo, although it sounds to me like he’s just rowing on their boat. That’s not a bad thing, he’s a wicked ass bass player and it’s nice to see him away from ‘psycho-mike-o’ now that all semblance of good taste has left the Suicidal camp. Good for Robert, I say. Either way, I’m happy to be eating my words left and right.
And really, maybe there is a more… complete explanation for all this. Maybe when the LHC went online something out of the ordinary did happen. Maybe a black hole was generated, except instead of the end of the world, we were all sucked through some massive Spacetime rift and into a Universe where Metallica hadn’t turned into the prissy little bitches who spiraled into a shameful musical existence and made a movie about their ‘band-counseling’ sessions and endless wealth.
* As good as ‘Master’ or ‘Justice’ are they simply lose all shock and violence when you hear bands like The Jesus Lizard, Einsturzende Neubauten or even, perhaps more on the same page, the majesty of the mighty Opeth
** Although you could argue that wasn’t the real Beach Boys and you’d be mostly right
*** Not Frusciante, he should definitely continue his genius/madman solo career.