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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