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Lars ain't fixing my car! - 62%

Brainded Binky, November 17th, 2014

There has been quite a lot that has influenced Metallica. Punk rock, NWOBHM, and even classic rock, so when the band decided to give a shout out to all three of those musical genres, they released "Garage Inc.", an album consisting mainly of covers of the bands that inspired them. What we get here isn't so much an album which contains songs of praise to any of those bands covered as they are giving them a big middle finger, and you would have to listen to hear for yourself.

Everybody knows of Metallica's love of Diamond Head. Yes, there's the song "Am I Evil", which we all know so much about, so I'm not going to elaborate on that so much, other than the fact that the guitars are heavier than in the original, typical of Metallica. What really gets me, though is their rendition of "It's Electric". Okay, I admit, it's kind of a hokey song, but it's kind of what you'd expect to hear in a NWOBHM band like Diamond Head. Metallica just decided to not only make the guitars heavier, but also put their version of the song down a half-step. If it was a live version, I wouldn't mind so much, since bands tend to tune their songs down a half step when playing live, but this is a studio effort. You don't expect studio efforts to be bogged down like that, I mean, the guitars on the cover of "Am I Evil" aren't tuned down, and they're still heavy.

And now let's talk about "Blitzkrieg", a song that not so much of us are familiar with. It's actually a pretty decent cover, all things considered, as it is a little faster-paced, and of course, a little heavier, but I still consider the original to be better. After the solo in the original, we hear a guitar whammy bar producing a low, eerie, air-raid siren-like sound effect that punctuated the song's subject matter. In the cover version, Kirk just fools around with his whammy bar and produces typical whammy bar sound effects. Yeah, that's quite riveting, Kirk. The burping and Lars talking at the very end of it doesn't help so much either, but I digress.

Then there's their Mercyful Fate medley. Now I'm just speaking my own opinion on this, but I kind of feel that it isn't the same without King Diamond as a lead vocalist. Yeah, I know, there are a lot of people out there that don't like King Diamond's vocals, and that's fine, I can understand. His high falsetto voice just doesn't sit well with everyone. In my opinion, though, his voice is part of the charm of the Mercyful Fate songs covered here. When James Hetfield does it, it just isn't as effective, at least not in my opinion. James and King Diamond have two completely different voices, the complete polar opposites of each other. If anybody likes this medley better than the originals, fine. I know the reasons why. But I just like the originals better. That's just me.

There are also cover songs that are just downright baffling. Nobody could expect the band to cover Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Tuesday's Gone", a southern rock ballad. I mean, Metallica and Skynyrd are as far away from each other as music could possibly get, and that's a fact. Don't forget their ill-concieved rendition of Bob Seger's "Turn the Page", the original version of which, actually had a saxophone play that riff! Metallica was never meant to cover such songs, 'cos it's like Judas Priest covering a Chuck Berry song, and believe it or not, that actually happened! A more usual candidate for a band Metallica would cover would be Thin Lizzy, but why they chose to cover "Whiskey in the Jar", originally an Irish folk song, is beyond me. When hearing the original source material, you just don't hear Metallica at all, you hear something completely different. What's next, a cover of a Grateful Dead song? Knowing the direction Metallica's been taking, I could totally see that happening.

Then we have their rendition of Blue Oyster Cult's "Astronomy", yet another head scratcher. The cover version doesn't even have all of the things that made the original sound so mysterious and eerie, they just played it with the guitars and called it a day. The original had a piano/synthesizer, that created a haunting, bleak sound, but the cover version? Nope! Just James and guitars. Though, to be fair, James does seem to have a voice similar to that of Eric Bloom's. Both singers seem to have that tenor baritone voice, and they almost sound like the exact same person. That said, the cover would never top the original, cos the former lacks quite a bit. Just saying.

I have no idea what Metallica was thinking when they came up with this (other than to sell records). Don't get me wrong, Metallica isn't a horrible band, it's just that they seem to have been taking a very odd turn in terms of musical styles, and I could say that "Garage Inc." proves it. Then again, there have been worse things Metallica's done, but I don't need to remind you of those.