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At first tasty, then utterly troubling. - 45%

hells_unicorn, March 2nd, 2011

It has been pretty well established that Metallica lives in the past when on tour, and now they’ve made this fact even more abundantly clear to the blokes over in Australia and New Zealand who’ve been following them since the 80s. Released as something of a precursor to the second part of two tour EP releases to commemorate their 2010 tour of said region, “Six Feet Down Under” is something of a brief chronology of 4 very different eras that the band went through from when they first came to fame and the land of kangaroos and cacti. And like all 4 eras, this thing is about as inconsistent as Charlie Sheen’s command of reality.

The first half of this is where most of the high points are, save perhaps the production, which is forgivable in a band that is playing thrash metal. The two “And Justice For All” songs are played in a 100% faithful fashion, right down to the super trebly guitar sound, and barring a tape recorder in the crowd balance of music and crowd noise, is just as good as the studio version. The 2 representatives from “The Black Album” are fairly consistent, although Hetfield’s vocals are definitely getting too squeaky clean. There’s a nice bit of acoustic soloing in something along the lines of a flamenco guitar sound leading up to “The Unforgiven”, a staple of their tours in the early 90s.

If consisting only of the previously mentioned songs, this would have been a nice little rarity EP in the live venue, but sadly we have to be reminded of those days when Metallica realized that playing metal wasn’t going to get Lars his 18 karat gold Jacuzzi. The “Reload” material is well produced, but that’s basically all its got going for it, apart from the fact that “Low Man’s Lyric” might work well as a comical country song if James’ vocals didn’t blow so much. And worse still, when the last two songs come in from the 2004 touring days, memories of the total abortion that was “St. Anger” resurface. “Frantic” is a no-brainer in terms of avoidable songs, though somehow the band manages to sound a little less high school band like and the guitars actually have some punch to it. But the highlight is the really weak rendition of “Fight Fire With Fire”, showcasing a gutted vocalist struggling through one of the easiest to sing thrash metal songs of the 80s, and a hack drummer showing his true colors as he struggles to keep the beat.

For those living outside of Australia, there’s not really a whole lot of appeal here, and the same goes for anyone who wants to avoid this band’s post 1995 material. The importation costs alone surpass any value that this has as a rarity for completists and other treasure seekers. Metallica is all but a dead band now, and sadly no one has had the common decency to bury the poor bastards. Absent a biblical resurrection scenario, the past is the place to be with this band.

XXXX, SHRIMPS, AND DEEP ALBUM CUTS - 70%

caspian, December 27th, 2010

Not a bad little tour EP here; pretty cheap ($12 at JB- may not sound that cheap but here that's either a very, very cheap full length or a single), and a bunch of songs that will make most Metallica diehards very interested. Frantic? Eye of the Beholder? Low Man's Lyric?? Yeah, not really a casual fan's release, this- but for the Metallica tragic out there the lack of Sandman, NEM, MoP etc. certainly won't be a minus.

Recording quality is a bit over the place; Fight Fire With Fire and Frantic sound great, Through The Never's quiet, full of noise and has a general "dude out in the seats with a little tape & mic" vibe, AJFA even moreso, trebly and tinny to the point that, well, it even makes the original sound good! Still, rough recording was one of the reasons that Cliff 'Em All was so good; and it is nice to hear these tunes done in a live version that's rough and raw, not polished, not overdubbed later on, not auto tuned and quantised.

Songs are similarly inconsistent and a bit rough. Low Man's Lyric has always been a favourite of mine but stripped of the Bob Rock magic sounds fairly flat live- a problem that Unforgiven also suffers with. FFWF is tight and brilliant, short of a few mistakes in the dual lead, although to me the main surprise/highlight is Frantic. Sure, the 'Keep on Searching' and the infamous 'tick tick tick tock' bit will always be pretty lame, but the rest of the song works, and works well, fast, heavy, energetic, surprisingly unshit.

So, to summarise, this is a bit all over the place but has enough strangeness to be well worthwhile for the big Metallica fan, especially if you saw them on their (excellent) recent antipode tour. For fans only, but most people who've read this review will have guessed that by now, I imagine...