When I think of my favorite songs of all time, they all tend to have a few things in common:
1. A relentless beat.
2. A mighty guitar riff.
3. Dark, powerful lyrics that tell a narrative.
In my previous post, I mentioned some of my favorite Metallica songs. They tend to all have the above attributes. Whether its Creeping Death and its dark tale of ancient Egypt, or Blackened and its frightening tale of nuclear war, for some reason, these types of narratives tend to really engage me when incorporated in music.
I'm not a fan of happy, pop music at all, especially that which has a weak or missing narrative.
Every now and then, a rockish song that is far from being metal, does hit those requirements. Usually it's something that has lyrics which aren't easily understood by most people listening to it. Third Eye Blind's Semi-Charmed Life is a good example. I don't think most people listening to that song realized what it was about.
Another good example is Weezer's Hash Pipe. It has some of darkest lyrics I've ever heard. That wasn't a song about a Hash Pipe. It was about a Crack Pipe and some horrible stuff going down on Santa Monica Blvd in West Hollywood. What a bold narrative to hide in a top 40 hit, though.
Watch the video below, then click HERE to read the lyrics, and see if you'll ever hear the song the same way again.
There are numerous 'Best of Metallica' lists on the internet, and they are all utter crap. Every single one of them.
So I thought I'd take the time to write the real-best-of-Metallica list, once and for all, including music off of their latest album. Here is the only definitively true Best Metallica Songs Of All Time list that exists:
15. Broken, Beat, & Scarred
14. Moth Into Flame
13. Spit Out The Bone
12. Invisible Kid
11. Atlas, Rise!
10. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
9. Fade to Black
5. Leper Messiah
4. Creeping Death
3. Master of Puppets
1. Disposable Heroes
And that is the definitive list of best Metallica songs that currently exist. Notice that there isn't any off of their off-track The Black Album, Load, Re-Load period. Thankfully, they're back in true form, and we should expect more absolutely fantastic classics off of future albums.
Now, this is very interesting. Look at the complete setlist for Metallica's Jan. 11th concert in South Korea:
They played five songs off of the new album! That's fantastic. They opened with Hardwired and Atlas Rise!, two songs that were certainly expected. They also played Now That We're Dead, a terrific song, Moth Into Flame, another single we'd expect, and the slower epic Halo on Fire.
I'm floored that they played that amount of new material. That's exciting. I guess the only disappointment is the one they didn't play: Spit Out The Bone.
The biggest classic from yesteryear that they skipped over, in my opinion, is Creeping Death. I'd certainly like them to keep that on the setlist, but you've got to get rid of something. There are now whole albums that aren't represented, which I guess comes with the territory of being around for so many decades.
I can't wait to see them play new material live. I'm thinking that the Dead and Halo slots will probably be rotated with more new songs. It'll be interesting to see the next few setlists.
It's great that the band is so proud of their new stuff that they're willing to squeeze more than the typical one or two songs of it into their concerts. You gotta wonder though—at what point are we going to hear the first live performance of Spit Out the Bone? That is what everyone is going to be waiting for.
I've been a hardcore Metallica fan since the late eighties. I've waited so long for this new album to come out that it felt like an eternity. It's my belief that after creating the best four metal albums of all time, Metallica took a major down-step with the Black Album, and then a plummet to Load. I felt every subsequent album was better than the previous, however, and recently I had a feeling that the band was nearing a return to the greatness that was 1980's Metallica.
Hardwired, I'm glad to say, is a fantastic album. It does play too slow for my liking, having far too many medium-tempo tracks. But, those tracks, unlike on some of the previous albums, are consistently good, like in the vein of The Memory Remains-quality. Songs like Here Comes Revenge and Murder One are well-crafted tracks that would have been far too slow for early Metallica albums, but are fitting for modern Metallica.
The early releases, Hardwired...to Self Destruct, Moth Into Flame, and Atlas, Rise! are some of faster tempo tracks on the album. They're awesome. In fact, Atlas, Rise! is worthy of being on any Metallica album. But the hardest, most powerful, and probably best track on Hardwired is the final song on the album—a masterpiece called Spit Out the Bone. It's fantastic and is clearly the song that defines this album. If it's not played on the current tour—in fact, if Metallica doesn't open or close with it—there are going to be a lot of pissed-off metal heads. It's fast and brutal and is old school Metallica at its very best.
So, where does Hardwired...to Self Destruct land in the echelon of Metallica albums? It's far better than Black, Load(s), St. Anger, or Death Magnetic. It's not Master of Puppets great, but then again, no album is. I believe it's in the same quality vein as Kill 'Em All, Ride the Lightning, or ...And Justice for All. And that's saying something.
Metallica is back. I can only hope that we hear several of the new tracks on the current tour—and that's a feeling I don't ever remember having. Let us hope we don't have to wait another eight years for the next album to appear. If the current trend continues, it could give Puppets a run for its money.
On a Metallica scale, my rating: 8.5/10.
It's such a wonderful feeling when your favorite band releases a song, and it's so good you can't get it out of your head. I've been singing these lyrics for days:
Die as you suffer in vain,
Own all the grief and the pain,
Die as you hold up the skies,
How does it feel on your own?
Bound by the world all alone,
Crushed under heavy skies,
We're 12 days away from the release of Metallica's long-awaited new album, and so far the tracks that they've dropped have been fantastic. It looks like this is the album we've been waiting for since the late eighties.
Here're my current feelings on the tracks released so far, on a Metallica scale. All these songs would be perfect 10's on a normal scale.
Lords of Summer 8.7/10 - I sang this song all summer long last year. It's an epic rock anthem, and I hope they keep playing it live. Glad it's on the extended version of the new album.
Hardwired...to Self-Destruct 8.6/10 - It's a quick song that grows on you. The band wanted to change it up with something on the shorter side, and ended up producing something pretty unique for Metallica.
Moth Into Flame 8.9/10 - This is a rockin' song that has some of the best lyrics that Metallica has ever written. The band hits its high point when the narratives are strongest.
Atlas, Rise! 9.3/10 - What a massive song that continually pounds on with a powerful, grand theme. I absolutely love it.
So what Metallica songs do I consider a perfect 10? I'd say Creeping Death, Fade to Black, Battery, Master of Puppets, Leper Messiah, Disposable Heroes, and Cyanide. If we got another perfect 10 on the new album, I'd be overjoyed. But if the album has solid high 8's and low 9's, I'd be filled with joy as well.
So far, it seems like the long wait has been worth it. I do think they made a mistake with choosing what track to name the album after. Alas, Rise! would have been a much more epic title.
Nov. 18th can't some soon enough. It's going to be the happiest day of the year.
There are two upcoming releases I want so badly to be great, that I'm nervous that either one will be.
1. Titanfall 2
The reviews should hit in a few days, with the release coming on Friday. Why am I nervous about it?
The original Titanfall, created by Respawn, was simply the best first-person multiplayer shooter I've ever played. It made me not to want to play Call of Duty anymore (and I've been playing COD since COD 1). Though I've enjoyed Battlefront and Overwatch greatly, and I'm starting to like Battlefield 1 as I learn to play it, none of these games are as supremely polished and fun to play as Titanfall. Not even close.
I just assumed that Zampella & crew would not possibly mess up Titanfall 2. They obviously had a much greater budget. They didn't have to change the game all that much. A few enhancements would have been great. But then that 'pre-Alpha Tech Test' came out, and the collective gaming community starting wondering if this thing was going to be a huge debacle.
I can live playing these other recent FPSer's if Titanfall 2 turns out to be a dud. But I will not be happy about it. I would love nothing better than to be putting a few hundred hours into Titanfall 2 during the next few years. However, if those reviews aren't solid, I won't even buy the game. A few months ago, that was unthinkable, so I'm nervous.
2. Hardwired...to Self-Destruct
I've been a Metallica fan since the '80's. The Master of Puppets album is my favorite piece of art, ever, by a country mile. However, post-And Justice For All, which followed Puppets, my favorite band has shown pieces of brilliance on each album, but none have compared in whole to their first four releases.
I liked the last two albums more than most people. Many had a problem with the tinny drum sound on St. Anger and the drop C tuning. I think the album, like Hetfield has said, is misunderstood. It was so much better than their previous three. And their last album, Death Magnetic, was another step in the right direction. In fact, there're a couple of songs on it that feel like they could fit on Master. So, after so many years of disappointment, I feel the band is trending in the right direction. Hope is a great thing to have.
However, they're taking so long to make albums now. They seem to be on the road for years at a time. Their first four albums—their masterpieces—were made in a six-year stretch. And now it's been eight years since the release of their last album. So you have to be nervous, because it feels like if they had enough time, they could return to the pinnacle of metal that they once were at, but you don't know if time will run out before they get there.
The first releases of off the new album, Lords of Summer, Hardwired, and Moth Into Flame, are all excellent in my book. They're not Master of Puppets excellent, but they sure as hell are better than most of the songs the band has put out since Justice. This new album has the potential to be fantastic from start to finish. But, Metallica has let me down before. I've waited so long for this album, I'm nervous as hell. The November 18th release date can't come soon enough.
My selfish self just hopes I'm not let down. It doesn't get better than Respawn or Metallica. Please, be as great as you're capable of being, and give us product that is worthy of the gods.
Read and absorb this wonderful poem:
Pop queen, amphetamine
The screams crashed into silence
Doused in the gasoline
The high times going timeless
Death of the innocence
The pathway starts to spiral
All for publicity
Destruction going viral
The delusion absolution
Fame is the murderer
Seduce you into ruin
Guarantee your name, you go and kill yourself
The vultures feast around you still
Overdose on shame and insecurity
If one won't do, that fistful will
Black hearse the limousine
A grave filled with seduction
Fame does the murdering
She builds up for destruction
So light it up
Ah, light it up
Another hit erases all the pain
Ah, no excuse
You're falling, but you think you're flying high
Sold your soul
Built the higher wall
Now you're thrown away
Same rise and fall
Who cares at all?
Seduced by fame
A moth into the flame
Addicted to the
Those are the lyrics to the latest Metallica release "Moth in a Flame." It's strong narratives like this that make otherwise good music great, at least for me. Check out the video:
Just about every community of a certain size has its share of talented local artists. Certain cities have their artistic distinctions. Frisco is the place for painters & sculptors. NYC is the destination for stage actors. Austin & Nashville are the places to go to become country music stars. But it's Los Angeles that is the center of the American art world as a whole. Whether you're an actor, writer, painter, musician, or any other type of artist, Los Angeles calls you to come and hone your craft so you can share it with the world.
Yet the art world is a funny place. The most talented rarely rise to the top. This city is littered with thousands of extremely talented writers, actors, and every other type of artists, who will never be able to make a living off of their art. It's a brutally competitive scene, which winners are often the best at marketing themselves, and oftentimes, the luckiest.
Unfortunately, it's becoming harder to stay in Los Angeles for the years it takes most people to become exceptional at their craft. In the past, broke artists could live cheaply in massive old apartment complexes scattered throughout the city. Those days are long gone, and it puts even more pressure on artists, because their plausible window of success becomes evermore compressed.
I'm going to start taking the time to occasionally showcase some of the more talented people that I know that are in need of some promotion. Today, I'm going to mention a singer/songwriter that goes by the name Matty O. His first album Gullible's Travels is available on iTunes. He's an alternative/rock type of guy that is putting out some good stuff. Take a listen below to a track called Yuletide Lament, a Christmas song about Los Angeles that I think is rather exceptional. If you like it, please support him by purchasing his album.
I feel that far too many potentially great artists aren't getting the time needed to polish their craft to the point they're capable of reaching. I believe the best way to support them is to go to their local performances, purchase some of their early stuff. Help keep them sustained so they can grow to the point of maturation. It's a way to benefit more than the artists. It's a way to benefit the world.
There's been a slew of iconic musicians dying lately, including Motörhead's Lemmy, David Bowie, and The Eagle's Glenn Frey. I'm afraid we're seeing the tip of the iceberg, as the hard partying legends of the late '60's and '70's are all reaching a certain age.
It's incredibly sad for more than one reason.
The bulk of music created in the last fifteen years doesn't resonate with many of us who were born in the '70's or earlier. It comes across as thin, shallow, and incomplete. The primary reason, I believe, is because music has shifted away from deep narratives for the sake of simplicity. Shallow pop, country, and hip hop rule the day, much to the dismay of those who appreciate a certain depth in their musical art.
This is not a lyric you would likely find written today:
Well, I'm a standin' on a corner, in Winslow, Arizona
Such a fine sight to see
It's a girl my Lord, in a flat-bed Ford
Slowin' down to take a look at me
At first look, this lyric appears simple in nature. It is not, however. The power of this lyric is that you can feel what the author(s) felt in that moment in a deep sense. It's a scene. It's part of a narrative. There's nothing more American than an attractive woman driving a flat-bed Ford through rural America. The picture is painted beautifully. The feeling of attraction was felt by the writer, and transferred to the listener, with incredible effectiveness. This awesome moment is forever captured—from the very distinct setting, to the feeling of elation during the connection between two people in that particular moment in time—by a poet writing and singing his art.
Poetry typically fails to connect with today's masses unless there's a beat behind it. That's the truth. Some of the great conventional poets of our day are read by only a handful of people because that's all who are able to effectively connect with their work. But those who put their poetry to music—they're heard by the whole world.
Unfortunately, some of the great ones are beginning to die off, and when we look at the landscape that holds their replacements—the view looks disturbingly bleak. Thank God, however, their poetry remains, and future generations, from now all the way until the end of time, will be able to enjoy the emotionally charged poetic experience.
Rock on Glenn Frey.