Thursday, 10 April 2008



For some this is as monstrous as music gets.  This is a big song that elevates with volume, one that can grow to earthshaking proportions.  You just must not take it too seriously.

In many ways this was the first official display of the Metallica rebirth.  Toned down ever so slightly, with Bob Rock the producer of Bon Jovi on board their sound was smoothed out and sanded down to make them somewhat radio friendly without too much compromise or lose of edge.  This is five minutes frenetically chugging heavy metal.

It begins with anticipation and an appropriate introduction to what lay ahead.  There is nothing subtle or fake about this delivery.  And considering that the time was the birth of alternative rock, the guitars are incredible smooth and clean sounding.  Perhaps to its detriment.

This material feels more driving, better paced than the thrash that came before it.  Here was a band not bold enough to take their time, to smash all posts without feeling the necessity to do it all at once.  They knew that this was the biggest sound on the planet.  Hey, it even comes with a break to allow for pyrotechnics to explode.  “Enter Sandman” came with stadium written all over it.

At the time there was none more black and over the years few metal acts have received the recognition that Metallica have.  And this is quite a feat considering how easy they make it look and sound.

The concept of “Enter Sandman” is of nightmares.  When released Freddie Kruger was still very much in the public’s consciousness and the horror they were able to derive from such an association served them well, even to the point that the band was able to cheesily place a girl reciting a prayer into a break.  For any other act this gesture would have killed the song but Metallica got away with it off the back of already bludgeoning the listener through sheer bloodymindness.

Of course there is a guitar solo.  Every metal song has to have a solo but the manner with which it is placed here proves not to spoil the show as it arrives more as a matter of fact indulgence rather than a centre stage display of (feeble) authority.

On the flip is a cover version of “Stone Cold Crazy” by Queen.  It all feels a bit soppy as Metallica increase the volume and toughen up the guitars in galloping fashion as Hetfield does achieve some kind of accurate and faithful variant of the Freddie Mercury vocal delivery.  This can be a camp band even if it does strangle itself with guitar solos.

The final track on the disc is a demo version of “Enter Sandman” in instrumental form where the USP appears to be the ability to chug away at a dense rhythm.  Its no frills, no nonsense and very amusing to note how basic the drums are when stripped down.  It’s as if Lars learned to play using ice cream tubs.  This version has charm.

Regardless of what I say or write this song is cast in stone and will forever be recognised with a legendary status intact.  It cannot be defeated.

Thesaurus moment: apex.

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