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After years of success, critical acclaim, personal loss, and fan backlash Metallica had seen it all. It also seemed that they had done everything they had really wanted to do. So the question was quite simply: What to do next? Easy, make a covers album!
Garage Inc. has no new material by Metallica, unless you count the new covers. Sadly, this is the best thing that they might have done in the 90s since the “Black Album”, maybe because Hetfield or Ulrich isn’t on any of the writing credits.
Going back to the new covers of the album, all on disc one, are generally really good, but the choices of the artists to cover is somewhat suspect. For example, although I enjoyed the song, “Turn the Page” is originally by Bob Seger, and somehow for a band that for 10 years only talked about obscure NWOBHM bands, Seger seems to be a bit of a departure from that. But one thing that they should be given credit for is that for the bands they did cover, they did some of the lesser known songs. Also a decent guest heavy cover of Lynyrd Skynyrds “Tuesday’s Gone” is on disc one. Despite its oddity of covers ranging from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Mercyful Fate, this range adds a lot of character to the first disc, it might otherwise not have.
Choice cuts of Disc One: “Turn the Page”, “Mercyful Fate”, “Die, Die My Darling”, and “Whiskey in the Jar”.
Disc Two contains previously recorded covers, which might not have the same production quality; it has so much more energy and vigor. It contains Jason Newsted’s Metallica recording debut in “The $5.98 EP – Garage Days Re-Revisited” which is a good value and really increases the value of “Garage Inc.” if someone doesn’t already have it. Another value booster is the inclusion of the “Creeping Death” b-sides “Am I Evil?” and “Blitzkrieg”, both very good examples of exuberant young Metallica honoring their NWOBHM heroes. Of the “B-Sides and One Offs” section my favorites are “Breadfan”, which is better than the original by Budgie, hands down, along with “Stone Cold Crazy”. And wrapping up disc two is the “Motorheadache ‘95”, Motorhead tribute, “Overkill” being my favorite.
Choice cuts of Disc Two: “Breadfan”, “Stone Cold Crazy” and all “The $5.98 EP”. This disc will be enjoyed more by fans of their 80s material.
Overall, Metallica’s “Garage Inc.” is quite an interesting little insight into the influences of Metallica. Also it is quite interesting, is what they do to modify each song to fit them. “Garage Inc.” is best suited for fans that might not have the budget or time to track down all of these separate releases.
I must admit to being biased towards this disc. THis is the album that turned me onto real metal, the album that opened up my world. I was at a friends place and he put The Prince on, and I was stunned by the fast riffing and the great singing/growling thing James was doing. I went out and got all the metal I could find.
7 Years later, and most of the early stuff I bought is at the bottom of my CD collection. This album still gets regular spins though, basically because there's two awesome but very different CD's on offer here. The first CD, full of the new covers, is full of experimentation and just a bit of goofing around. The seconds CD, the one I guess you're all looking for, is just full of straight up, ass whooping thrash.
I'll start with the first CD. Let me jsut say right now that most of you will hate this CD. THe only bands that make sense to me would be Sabbath, Diamond Head and Merciful Fate. Still, there's a lot of quality cuts on here. The album starts off a bit weakly, with the punky blast of Free Speech, but the next two songs are really, really good. It's Electric and Sabbra Cadabra are bursting at the seams with energy, and James seems to really enjoy singing these songs. His performance in Sabbra Cadabra is pretty happy and stuff, it's a nice change. There's a bit of misstep with Turn the Page next.. I think it's a decent cover, but not Metallica cover. Then there's the epic, brooding Loverman. Personally, I would've prefered someone else to do the spoken word parts (Nick Cave should've guested!) But it's still a cool song, unlike anything Metallica have ever attempted.
I'm not going to go through all the songs in that much detail, but there's two more tunes that really stand out. Astronomy is a really, really good power ballad, and why it wasn't the first single confuses me. Great verse and a cool, heavy chorus, with a very melodic and catchy solo to finish the song off. Met's best ballad since One? Maybe. The Merciful Fate tune stands out as the most metal thing MEtallica have done since AJFA, and there's some really, really great leads and riffs here. Top stuff.
The second disc is the one you are all looking for, and I don't blame you, because all the songs here are really, really good. The songs aren't as diverse, but you know what you're getting here, that is, super heavy and raw thrash. Helpless has a great bridge and some fairly techincal riffing, Small Hours is slow, punishing doom metal,. But my favourite is THe Prince, the heavy, almost punky kinda song. THe song that got me into Metal, it will always have a place in my heart. Am I Evil too... Damn, what a solo. This record really shows how damn good Metallica were/are (cross out whichever one seems most valid to you). They also deserve a mention for the production, because while it is raw and heavy, it's also really clear. Some of the songs are short on bass, but overall, this is heavy, raw and clear production, the best kind there is IMO. Why can't more bands do covers this good?
Damn, this is one amazing covers disc. One CD full of cool, diverse tunes, the other one full of ballsy thrash. It losses 7% because of a few dodgy parts in the first CD. Overall, you won't find many better cover albums then this. Essential listening for the Met fan.
Since this release has two drastically different discs, they will each be reviewed separately. The first one will be song-by-song, and the second will be a more generalized review. Why? Because there’s so much to trash on the first disc...
1. Free Speech for the Dumb (Discharge): Pretty worthless. If I wanted to listen to shitty dirt-punk, I’d go to the source, not a polished bunch of corporate whores trying to sound like dirt-punk. Hetfield stinks on this one, too. It’s only redeeming quality is that it’s kind of heavy.
2. It’s Electric (Diamond Head): One of the crappier Diamond Head songs to cover, but Metallica do it reasonably well. Hetfield is much better on this track, almost flawless actually. The rest of the band performs admirably as well, but it doesn’t really have a lot of bite.
3. Sabbra Cadabra (Black Sabbath): They’re treading on thin ice here. This is one of my favourite Sabbath songs, and at first it seems like they’re butchering it. They slow the main riff down, and the drums are playing almost at half-time it seems, and it really loses that frantic, almost schizophrenic quality that the original has. Fortunately, this works in their favour as it becomes more of a groove-laden, bluesy piece. Again, Hetfield’s vocals are done very well here and a major bonus is the addition of ‘National Acrobat’ to the song, another one of my favourite Sabbath tunes. I think they sound a hell of a lot better going into that than they would have the kind of wussy slow part in the original. Hetfield would’ve butchered that one.
4. Turn the Page (Bob Seger): What the fuck can you say about this? Everyone’s heard it. I actually like the original, and I don’t mind Metallica’s version of it. It’s the just the principal of it that bugs me. Come on guys, it’s Bob Fucking Seger! Much like track 1, if I wanted to listen to country, I’d go to the source.
5. Die Die My Darling (Misfits): This has a similar problem as the first track does. It just sounds too clean, and it doesn’t even touch the original. It’s not horrible, though.
6. Loverman (Nick Cave): Interesting choice of songs. Unfortunately, Metallica is horrible at creating atmosphere and Hetfield sounds like a fucking bitch when he starts crooning and saying ‘baby’ and stuff. I give them credit for trying, though. The biggest problem is that when the heavy part comes, there’s no riff, it’s just a wall of noise, like a lot of non-metal that tries to be heavy and quite frankly, it’s boring!
7. Mercyful Fate Medley: Ah, the reason to not throw the first disc out. The boys do a great job on these Fate tunes, although I don’t condone the forced cohesion of many different songs! The fact that I can actually hear some of these songs without the retarded, wounded-duck sound of King Diamond makes me very happy (I loathe King Diamond as a vocalist!). Hammett plays the solos well, although, he’s definitely no Hank Shermann! I also had no idea Lars could play that fast anymore, even though they do slow a lot of it down somewhat. This song also tricked people into believing that Metallica might actually become a metal band again someday. Bastards.
8. Astronomy (B.O.C.): Another good reason not to shove this disc up your butt. I think they do a wonderful job on this song, and it really should have been one of their singles. What the fuck were they thinking with Turn the Page and Whiskey in the Jar?!? This is fucking metal, but melodic enough to get significant airplay. Fuckheads. I especially like Newsted’s bass playing here.
9. Whiskey in the Jar (Thin Lizzy): This song blows. The Thin Lizzy version stunk and this one is no better. Why the fuck wouldn’t they cover ‘Jailbreak’ or something?
10. Tuesday’s Gone (Skynyrd): Fuck this. What a worthless waste of space. Hetfield sounds like a queer. He doesn’t have the right voice to be singing this shit. Pepper Keenan should have sung the whole song, when he comes in it actually sounds decent. He was born to play dirt-rock. Hetfield, not so much. The song is played well enough, I suppose, and John Popper’s harmonica solo smokes... what? A fucking harmonica solo? John Popper? Look at the URL at the top. It doesn’t say faggot-redneck-country-archives.com does it? No. Fucking ZERO.
11. The More I See (Discharge): Leaps and bounds better than the first Discharge tune, as this one actually gets up and moves around a little. Still nothing spectacular, but it’s almost a thrash song.
Averaged out, this disc receives a 39 rating.
Everybody knows that this is the whole reason to buy this 2-disc set. If you didn’t want to buy all those singles and such, know you can have them, although you have to sit through a disc filled mostly with shit. Almost every song on here is killer. The first five are awesome thrashed-up remakes, and ‘The Prince’ is one of the best cover songs ever. In fact, on both ‘The Prince’ and ‘Breadfan’ the riffing is just so fucking tight that it’s probably some of the best I’ve ever heard anywhere.
There are some stinkers however. I’ve never liked ‘Stone Cold Crazy’ as a Metallica studio song. Live it works fine, but put to tape it just sounds kind of lifeless. The Motorhead songs, or Motorheadache ‘95 are all pretty much worthless. These are the only tracks where Metallica aren’t sounding like Metallica, which is why most of their covers work. They’re trying to hard to sound like Motorhead, which they ain’t. Motorhead is sloppy and rough, while Metallica have a much more polished, refined attack. The most noticeable part of this is Hetfield trying to sound like Lemmy and failing miserably.
One more thing. If you rearranged the tracks so that tracks 6 & 7 became numbers 1 & 2, this would be quite the chronologically accurate overview of Metallica’s career. Their slight style changes throughout the mid-80’s are noticeable as is their transition into a not-very-effective rock outfit in the mid-90’s. And with those mid-90’s recordings, it’s pretty safe to say that this is the last Metallica disc worth getting.
Disc 2 score: 85
While I am a fan of everything Metallica has released, I can honestly say that no album of theirs has held my interest as long as this one. I have to be in the right mood for most albums, but this one is an evergreen.
Metallica has always enjoyed playing covers, and this collection is a nice salute to their long career and the bands they enjoy listening to. I would argue that Blue Oyster Cult wasn't a huge influence on the band, but I don't think that disqualifies them from being covered. They don't do Maiden and Priest because those are obvious choices. Even four covers in, most people have no idea who Diamond Head are. Same for Discharge and Mercyful Fate. And nobody would expect a Nick Cave or Bob Seger cover. About the only ones you might expect are the Motorhead covers, and those were done for a Lemmy tribute show. Metallica enjoys surprising people, and that's what they've done here.
The electric opener is "Free Speech for the Dumb", the first of two Discharge covers, and it thrashes along like nothing they've done since uhhh, "Through the Never" maybe. It's dead simple, but you can tell they're getting a kick out of it. "It's Electric" contains some of Diamond Heads dumbest lyrics(well, "Sucking My Love" is worse) but that riff is infectious, and it's fun to hear James hamming it up like a 70's hero. Oh, and I love that multi-tracked sustained note in the chorus.
"Sabbra Cadabra" is my least favourite number here. The Sabbath original was a trippy almost honky-tonk metaller with a nice bluesy piano line and a real sense of boogie. The Metallica version strips it off this and makes it come off as a "Load" reject. However, major points for a truly metal grafting of "A National Acrobat" into the middle of the song.
"Die Die My Darling" beats the stuffing out of the original. It's one of the more grim songs in punk history, and Metallica infuses it with coiled menace and some very impassioned vocals. "Turn the Page" is a nice chugging Bob Seger cover. I'm a huge fan of Bob, and this cover can't beat the originals moody atmosphere, but they certainly give it the ol' college try. A nice fuzzy Hammett solo, and the song has a great rock out section the original seemed to build up to, but never released.
Here we have a truly epic cover, along the lines of "Fixxxer" or "The Outlaw Torn". The verses are all classic Cave doom and gloom, and the lyrics are perfect for James who really shreds his vocal chords on that titanic chorus. It's odd how the term "epic" can be put on something this personal, but it's both. James rambles like he's playing in a bar in front of twenty or thirty people, and you are almost soothed by the quiet before he goes back into that brimstone n' bells scream. "LOVERMAN!"
The Mercyful Fate medley is a classic speedy metal cover, and I can picture people crying with joy at it (the kind who piss on their 90's records mostly), It's got some of Fate's best early tunes, most from Melissa and the Mercyful Fate EP. It's comprised of the following: 1. "Satan's Fall" (a song that's actually longer than the whole medley) works well, and it's hilarious to hear Metallica doing straight up "hail Satan" lyrics 2. "The Curse of the Pharaohs" is even better than the original version. The guitars are heavier, the bass superior, and although James ain't King Diamond, this song wasn't one the King's tougher to perform anyway and doesn't suffer from the change. Also fun to hear Kirk do more than one solo in the same song for once. 3. "A Corpse Without a Soul" is one of the best vengeful zombie stories in metal (how many are there?), and it's a smooth segue from "Pharaohs" to 4. "Into the Coven". "Come come/Into the Coven/and become Lucifer's Child!" Ah, I love this part. James seems to know of what he speaks, and although the King is wailing away on this with all his might, James makes his point felt. 5. Last is "Evil", and I really wish we'd gotten more of this one because it's a damn good song.
"Astronomy" is the third homer in a row, with the band ably honouring one of the Cult's most magical songs. James emotes well, and the band seems to thrum like a tightly wound string before snapping back on another titanic chorus. Gotta love those enthusiastic "HEY!"s over a winding medieval piece of castle rock par excellence. Then back into the verse, nice Hammett solo, and another big payoff and ride-out solo.
"Whiskey in the Jar" was a big hit and deservedly so, but I think that they could've picked a better Lizzy tune. Nothing special here. "Tuesday's Gone" is an oddity in that it was recorded live for an acoustic jam, whereas the others are all new studio tracks. It's one of Skynyrd's best songs, a beautiful lonesome ballad that, like "Turn the Page", perfectly evokes the feeling of the road. Obviously those haters of "Metallicountry" won't find much to like here, but them's the breaks. Not sure why we needed seven guest musicians here, but I'm a big fan of AIC, CoC, and Primus so I won't complain that they are represented here.
"The More I See" is another dead simple Discharge number, and a fitting close to disc one. Stay tuned for a little guitar and bass doodle bonus track thingy.
Disc 2 is even better in my opinion. I reviewed the Garage Days EP earlier, so check that for my thoughts on tracks 1-5. Suffice to say, all of em are great, with "Helpless" and especially "The Small Hours" being stand-out tracks.
"Am I Evil" is the greatest Metallica song they didn't write. Much as I love Diamond Head, Metallica blows them away on this song. This is Metallica playing straight up evil like they rarely do, and it's great. Huge epic riffs, some of James' best howls, a solid "Paint it Black"-like military march drum beat from Ulrich, and solos solos solos! This, along with "The Prince" really shows how much compositional influence these NWOBHMers had on Tallica. It thrashes it grooves and it crushes.
"Blitzkrieg" is a fun dumb proto-thrasher from a band of the same name, but lets be honest here, the Tallica version is worlds better because they are far superior players. This is a real toe-tapper though, with a nice riff, some cool Burton bass work and just a real fun NWOBHM cheese metal feel. Also gotta love the "fucked up in one place" sound bite from Ulrich at the end. These two tracks were from the classic "Creeping Death" single originally, just as an FYI, and comprise the very first Garage Days chapter.
"Breadfan" is another classic, a hyperspeed update of an already hyperspeed song by loveable underdogs Budgie. This was high metal science back in '73, and it still rocks like a mofo today. Gotta love the pretty interlude with what is in actuality one of Kirk's better solos. A comparable section in "Crash Course in Brain Surgery" was axed and replaced with hilarious drunken bellowing, but luckily it's still present here. Of course they axed it and made it even more frenetic live, but what the hell. Also features one of the more challenging lyrics in the Metallica cannon because of the speed and length of the verses. I still wanna know what the hell is up with the "fluffy" line at the end though.
"The Prince" was one of the first true Bay Area Thrash songs. None of the stump-dumb structures of Anvil or Motorhead here. Dizzying speed, tons of tempo changes, and one of the most unforgettable lead breaks ever. If Diamond Head had had a singer like James Hetfield, they would've been unstoppable.
"Stone Cold Crazy" is a faithful update and it sticks close to the roller coaster riff-and-rolling original (how could it not?) the only difference really being a slight tempo increase an a more intimidating vocalist. To be fair to Freddie though, I'd like to see James try "Somebody to Love" for example. "So What?" is a ludicrously obscene anthem from goofy punks Anti-Nowhere League. It's a fun tune, and the production is easily the best on the second disc. Even though it's from mid-career Metallica, this is one of the first modern Hetfield vocals. Keep it simple stupid.
One of the very first Metallica covers, "Killing Time" is somewhat unremarkable except for James' quirky drill sergeant vocals (odd counterpoint to "Disposable Heroes") and the quick pace. Really little to say here.
Now we have the Motorheadache set. These stick right to the book, and it's fun to hear Metallica just fucking around in the studio. Watch for some massive miscues and flubs, and some really cheap production, but who cares? Just fun fun fun, and some of the 'Heads best tunes as well. Refreshing to hear a Motorhead set without "Ace of Spades".
And that pretty much covers it. One of my very favouritest albums, and one that refuses to get tired for me.
Stand-Outs: "Am I Evil?", "Astronomy", "The Small Hours"
To listen to Metallica before they sold out is a true experience, you received music that had meaning, purpose, and life really. The band has long been a gateway into the world of metal and for this reason I purchased this album, purchased it with expectations of them covering songs with quality work. Metallica alas did not meet these expectations.
A 2-disc set of Covers Garage Inc. offers the listener songs that reside on the fringe of Metallica’s normal scope of music. Sadly this venture into new territory, or should I say attempt to honour the bands which influenced them was a horrid miscalculation.
The bands/artists that Metallica chose to cover for this album were; Diamond Head, Black Sabbath, Bob Seger, The Misfits, Nick Cave and the Bad Seed, Mercyful Fate, Blue Oyster Cult, Thin Lizzy, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Discharge, Holocaust, Killing, Joke, Budgie, Blitzkrieg, Queen, Anti Nowhere League, Sweet Savage and Motorhead.
Looking through the bands/artists above one can only wonder why or how Metallica could possibly think of covering songs by them! The mere thought of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Metallica functioning on the same wavelength sickens me. I mean for the love of god, if you are going to cover a song… DO IT FUCKING RIGHT! Not only does Tuesday’s Gone have nothing to do with metal, but the instrumentals and vocals WERE TERRIBLE.
The first CD offers semi-quality music with adequate vocals and instrumental work, though Lars Ulrich sounds incredibly lazy on certain songs. Over all this CD was a let down, rather unimaginative and no Metallica added to the works whatsoever.
The second CD offered a new level of craptacular work from this once decent band. Though Lars seems to have recovered some energy for these songs, the overall feel of the instrumental work on this CD left me searching for a Punk CD, BLECH!!!!
This is an all in all terrible effort by Metallica to leech more money than ever out of listeners out there. The cost was outrageous for what is delivered and leaves me as a buyer wanting a hell of a lot more for my $34 CND which is probably about 25 USD or so, either way it’s a waste of money that could have stayed hidden in your couch. A suggestion to prospective buyers, download this album first and listen to what you were about to waste your money on… if you still wanna buy it, go ahead. But I warned you.
This album really isn't all that bad! Yes I know I am a metal head and saying new Metallica is good is blasphemy! But fuck that, okay I will admit they have lost there thrashy edge, but it is still good for being hard rock! Garage Inc. was acually one of my top favortie albums of that year. Let me start with the first disk! okay some of these songs are pretty stupid:
Free Speech For the Dumb, The More I See, Loverman, these are all skippers. Yes I realize that these songs have been recorded in the "new" age Metallica but there really not that bad. Covering everything from Black Sabbath's Sabbra Cadabra and Diamon Head's Its Electric. These are the bands that influenced Metallica greatly. Even Turn the Page is done good, not great, but not butchered. The Mercyful Fate melody is the best melody ever, taking all the great Mercyful Fate songs and cramming them into one. Kirk even manages to throw in some well copied solo's of MF. And the BOC cover! How can this album not be great, the riffs of these original songs are done heavier for a more modern age of listeners. The last couple of tracks were taken from the original Garage Days... EP!
The second disk is even better. Most, if not all of this is the old recording. Thrash??? Fuck yeah, Motorhead, Misfits, Diamond Head, come on this is what motivated these guys to come up with some of the greatest albums of all time (ie. Kill 'Em All, Master of Puppets, etc.) Once again, the riffs are nicely taken from the originals and played either at the same level or pumbed up with killer thrash speed! Tired of Metallica's new age and want them to go back to their roots? This disk is there roots!
This album is very important to any Metallica fan. Not only are these covers great, but they are nicelt performed, with little difficulties and crappyness. Over all blend is great, vocals good, guitars good, can't go wrong. And this my fellow metal heads is what got Metallica going! Their influencers! That is why cover albums kick ass, because they open you up to a whole bunch of other kick ass bands!
There are some worthwhile selections on this 2CD compilation, but the signal-to-noise ratio is quite low, as most of the first album, and even a bit of the second, is utter crap.
The first disc is all new stuff recorded in and around 1998, so one can only imagine the quality of the selections. Some of the songs begin questionable, and some end up butchered by James "Waylon Jennings Fan" Hetfield and friends. There are two Discharge covers, and a Mercyful Fate Medley (Metallica have always been big on medleys, especially live - apparently, they don't remember how to play a whole song!) Those are the highlights, the rest is pretty much commercial crap ("Whiskey in the Jar", "Turn the Page", and then "Tuesday's Gone", which is complete shit even by Lynyrd Skynyrd standards... where's fucking Freebird with its gonzo soloing? Oh that's right, Kirk can't play the part of one guitarist, never mind four).
The second disc is what makes this almost worthwhile, though it is probably far more rewarding to either hunt down the originals, or to really sock it to this band and get the songs on mp3! Disc Two is more a b-side collection than anything else, and thus omits anything that never made it as a Japanese bonus track, EP song, or album - therefore it is woefully incomplete. There are no jam sessions with Mustaine from 1982, the Metal Massacre I version of Hit the Lights is missing, as is the original Killing Time cover from 1982, and certainly there is no Let it Loose or Dirty Money (both Savage covers... Dirty Money was played live once in 1982, and no recording of it is known to exist, but that should not stop the band themselves from having and releasing a copy.) I could go on, a REAL compilation would be at least 3 CDs, and that is only the stuff I know of...
Overall, it's not bad, but it is definitely not as fan-oriented as they could claim. Yes, the Garage Days Re-revisited EP is here, but that wasn't all that rare to begin with... it's really yet another sellout effort, and not worth the $26 or however much a 2CD set goes for nowadays.