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metanix, January 22nd, 2016

Back in the winter of 2014, Metallica surprised fans by not only playing a new song live; but they also released a demo recording of the song to the public. Lords of Summer was released in March of 2014 with a full release title of Lords of Summer (Garage Demo Version) and with anything Metallica releases, of course the track was panned by fans and critics. But ultimately, if you go back to June and August of 2006 when Metallica released the New Song and the Other New Song prior to "Death Magnetic" and compare the general consensus with Lords of Summer, you will definitely see that the reviews have been a bit more positive. Not by much; but still a bit more in favour towards the track.

Lords of Summer is a Hetfield/Ulrich/Trujillo written track and even though this song was released to the general public; we should still consider this track a demo because, well, it's a demo. The production is not a good example of how Metallica should sound; but it's raw and it's still enjoyable to listen to. Yes, the distortion is a little weak at times, especially on the main riff throughout the track; but if you can get passed that and try to hear what it would sound like as an actual finished product, you might be able to enjoy it a bit more. If you are able to get passed the production values of the track you will notice that the structure is much more organic than previous Metallica songs from recent years. A lot of their newer efforts feel a bit messy when it comes to song structure and Lords of Summer is definitely a step in the right direction. The track still clocks in 8 minutes and 20 seconds; but structurally feels tight, compact and organic.

Right from the top of the song, the opening section brings us back to "Kill 'Em All" with a Phantom Lord vibe that consists of drawn out chords and heavy tom-toms creating a mid-tempo groove which leads into the main riff. The direction that the main riff takes us is a thrash vibe that feels very old school for Metallica that continues into the verses. Much of this track is "Kill 'Em All" inspired; but once the chorus hits, the vibe that we get is something that Black Sabbath would write, which is a very solid choice for Metallica at this point in their career. Even though the song is long, It follows a very simple formula and the main body of the song is comprised of two iterations of a verse, a pre-chorus, and a chorus. After the second chorus, Metallica move onto a riff with a vibe that is reminiscent of The Wait, a song by Killing Joke they covered back in the 1980's. This riff leads us into the lead guitar break and again, the song structure is more organic, bringing back the structure you can find on Metallica's 1988 studio effort "... And Justice for All" and bringing us full circle by ending with a third chorus.

The words are reminiscent of some of the Dungeons & Dragons imagery that can be found on their debut album, "Kill 'Em All". This is of course, the first impression one would get when listening to the track. After a few more listens though, lines such as "Re-animated by fire" could insinuate that the Dungeons & Dragons imagery could be currently adopted as a sort of metaphor for Metallica feeling inspired; almost feeling as if they have been brought back to life by the fire of playing fast music again. While Hetfield's lyrics from "Death Magnetic" seemed kind of vague for most of the tracks, the lyrics on Lords of Summer definitely seem like they were approached with an actual subject and feel more organized than the former release from 2008.

In conclusion, is this a perfect song? No, not by a long shot; but Lords of Summer is a great effort by Metallica and a positive step in the right direction. For their next album, Metallica would be wise to keep their songs shorter this time around. Four and five minute songs would be ideal for them; but if Lords of Summer is an indication of how they are arranging their longer tracks nowadays, then a warm welcome for the track is needed! Imagine 1983 Metallica playing this track and with a little bit of tweaking here and there, it would sit well with the other songs on "Kill 'Em All". Lords of Summer is modern Metallica playing a song that could have been written in 1982 with a 1987 arrangement. Overall, a solid effort by the band.