Metallica: A Tragic Affair

The truth: I am over #‎Metallica. I have been since they released Load & Re-Load. I was in middle school at the time and even then, I KNEW they’d never be the same. I troll them because they’ve become easy targets. But, at the end of the day, when a band sells 100M records; it’s usually because they are extremely talented and have an insanely loyal fanbase. Unfortunately, inside that loyal fanbase exists the inability to think logically. Selling out isn’t necessarily negative; it’s objective. But, like most things in life; Don’t piss on my head and tell me it’s raining. Metallica sold out LONG ago… stop trying to convince me that they still kick ass. They don’t!

Let me take you back to when I discovered Metallica, my journey through their discography and when I finally came to terms with them being thrash metal zombies.

Part I: The Introduction

Without getting into excruciating details, my 1st experience with heavy music was Nirvana. I know, I know… it’s Grunge. But none of us have any control over what music is put in front of us. The time, place and our maturation that we experience these sounds determines how we react to them. That is why I sincerely believe that Heavy Metal is a cultural destiny for those of us who call it home. There are plenty of people who are introduced to heavy music at the wrong time in their lives. They turn away from it forever. Had the timing of their introduction been different, they may have become fans of Heavy Metal.

I was in 6th grade, Nirvana was the heaviest thing I had heard to date, I grew up listening to country music and we just moved from an Air Force Base in Germany to Las Vegas, Nevada. My 3rd period class was algebra with Mr. Points. I sat next to this kid, Paul. He was into heavy metal and punk rock and wore ALL of the band shirts of the day. I took notice and began asking questions. After many inquiries about his Metallica t-shirts, he brought “Ride the Lightning” to school for me to borrow (this was before the days of burning CD’s).

Part II: The Experience

I got home from school. My Mom was in the kitchen cooking dinner while talking on the phone. I went into my room, shut the door and put the CD into my tiny Sony BoomBox. I could NOT believe my ears. I had never heard anything like this before. It was beautiful, orchestrated, angry and heavy as hell.

I remember thinking the acoustic part of ‘Fight Fire with Fire’ would never end. I was beginning to wonder what the hell Paul gave me. Then after the drums and distortion came in, the walls of my room began to shake. Right after the first solo, my Mom blew through my door and said, “WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?” I gave her the CD case. She looked it over and said, “I’m pretty sure your Uncle Jimmy (her brother) listens to shit like this”, then walked out. In hindsight, I can’t help but laugh at the interaction because I still have a very close relationship with my Uncle Jim to this day, and we still constantly talk about Heavy Metal. I don’t think I ever gave Paul his CD back… sorry Paul!

Part III: The Journey

I would go over to Paul’s house pretty regularly and we would just jam to his awesome collection of CD’s. Not only was I introduced to the other Metallica records but also bands like Helmet, Sabbath, Slayer and early Deftones (Adrenaline). I was drawn to Metallica the most though. I would borrow his Metallica CD’s on a rotational basis until he finally just recorded them for me on cassette tapes (remember, this was before the internet. Now we can just google a band and their entire catalogue willl pop up on YouTube). I was a master of their music, I had memorized everything. I eventually saved money from babysitting the neighbor kids and bought the “Kill ‘Em All” record and a few shirts.

Part IV: The Letdown

Sometime around the 8th grade, Metallica released their highly anticipated record, “Load”. They had cut their hair and took on a new look. I didn’t care that they had cut their hair off. I was more concerned about what they would sound like. The conclusion: it wasn’t Metallica, not even close. At this point, I had binge listened to every Metallica record repeatedly over the course of 3 years. Hell, I even thought the ‘Black Album’ kicked major ass. Point is; I KNEW what Metallica was supposed to sound like, and ‘Load’ was not it. I remember them taking some serious heat for the record being soft. When Re-Load let me down as well, I knew it was over. Those first 5 records that I loved so much would continue to be my staple of Metallica for the rest of my time on planet Earth. A big realization for such a young kid. Little did I know that my disappointment in Metallica would never truly dissipate.

Part V: Bittersweet

I truly believe that Metallica is the proverbial ‘fork in the road’ for many future Metalheads. Upon hearing Metallica for the 1st time, they will decide to either pursue heavy music or pursue softer, more alternative sounds. Either way, Metallica are the Beatles of Heavy Metal. They didn’t invent it but they mastered it, then they revolutionized it, then they globalized it. Regardless of how soft, mainstream and corny Metallica continues to get over the course of time, NOTHING will take away their contribution to Heavy Metal.

For those Metallica fans who discovered and followed them before ‘Load’ and ‘Re-Load’, it is very frustrating and maddening to watch our heavy metal heroes parade around in designer clothing and $500 haircuts.

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