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Thrash-lite - 67%

BlackMetal213, July 12th, 2016

It's hard to write a long review for one single song, even if it does eclipse 8 minutes in length. So, I'm going to provide a fairly short review of the first new song Metallica has released since "Death Magnetic" came out 8 years ago, back in 2008. Metallica just loves to take forever to release new albums, don't they? Oh well, at least they aren't as bad as Tool! Anyway, this song was released a few years ago. Actually, two. It came out in June of 2014. Although I'm pretty sure I heard it on a live video in March of that year, before the band released the song digitally. I remember this because I was just about to leave for basic training and this was the last song I listened to before I left. So what do we get with this song?

Basically, this is a mix of the thrash metal sound the band played during the latter half of the 1980s, specifically with "...And Justice For All". It's lengthy structure and galloping thrash riffs can attest to this. However, it's not really pure thrash. It's not as thrashy as "Death Magnetic" was, either. This could only label this song as "thrash-lite" to my ears. It's thrash, but only barely. The main riff has that galloping sound but is very repetitive and when the song awkwardly slows down, it sounds like something Metallica would have written for some of the more mellow moments on their 1991 self-titled album or maybe even "Load." It's not terrible but really doesn't fit the song well. This nearly thrash-hard rock hybrid just doesn't sound complete and again, sounds awkward. It's almost as if this song suffers from a slight case of multiple personality disorder or something. It knows not what it is. Thrash metal, heavy metal, or hard rock? Oh well. At least the solo slays!

The drumming is what Lars was doing back in the 1980s. Very, very thrashy. This style of drumming was again heard on "Death Magnetic" after they pretty much ditched it back in 1991. Lars was never that great a drummer to begin with, and this is a well-known fact. Really though, this song sounds almost like a B-side to "Death Magnetic".

So, yes. This is a fairly thrashy song. It can certainly qualify as a thrash metal track in some parts but really, there is a bit of an unwelcome 1990s 'Tallica vibe to it as well. While it is better than a lot of what the band was doing in the 1990s, hopefully, the rest of the new album sounds better than this.


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.

I'll Take It. - 73%

LuisC, August 19th, 2014

Some people might think it's a bit overbloated to have so many reviews on just a single, but it's the controversial Bay Area band Metallica we're talking here. Their first original output to be published after the always infamous Lulu came out years ago, "Lords of Summer" serves as both an update of their musical style nowadays and some kind of prologue for whatever their New Album is going to be. It's not even a complete version, as the band passes it for a "First Pass Version", maybe afraid of compromising themselves to an album single, or out of request by their fans to release a studio version for this song, which has already been played in live shows.

On to the song. The first impressions I had were good, maybe because the drums didn't sound as loud as they did on Death Magnetic and Beyond Magnetic; and while the guitar doesn't quite fit 100% into the rest of the band it sounds good enough for a heavy metal song. The riffs are quite decent, faster to what we were accustomed with the 90's Metallica; and stand out particularly in the verses, a feature that adds aggressiveness to James Hetfield's vocals. I also have to mention Kirk Hammett's guitar solo, very similar to that of "All Nightmare Long", a solo I personally liked from their previous album. It was a nice addition to the song, even when Hammett shows he still can't (And won't) let go of his wah.

Now I can't ask a 50-year-old man who has been singing for more than 30 years to sound like he did back in Kill' em all, so I'll take Hetfield's vocals for what they are, and while they obviously are no Justice-like vocals, they do seem to help the overall heaviness of the song, a slight improvement over Death Magnetic. James' singing sounds menacing and does not stop at any time of the song to do some soft, cowboy-like singing like he did back in the 90s and even back in Metallica's last album. On to the drums. Lars Ulrich has been struggling to play with double bass pedal for almost a decade or so now and sometimes I wonder whether he should retire, go on to manage Metallica's administrative part, and still go on tour with them but leaving the drums to someone who doesn't drag down the pace of the songs like he does here. Some of the drum patterns he does are just outright lazy and become boring when you hear them for too long, which brings me to the other point I didn't like about "Lords of Summer": The song is too long. It suffers from the same flaw as Death Magnetic's "Suicide and Redemption" or "The Judas Kiss", and it extends itself more than it has to. You'll find yourself wondering why didn't they extend the more energetic, fast parts of the song and did extend the laid-back wannabe-heavy parts of it (Beginning of the Chorus). I don't have much to say about the bass, except it was audible, and Robert Trujillo did his job just fine.

I'm not the kind of person who says a band is back when their sound starts to show a slight glimpse of resemblance to their initial albums, and I also think Metallica doesn't really want to go back and do a carbon copy of Master of Puppets this time and day. But even in spite of its flaws I did find myself enjoying Metallica's new output, which also proved their unfortunate experiment with Lou Reed to be just a one-off experiment. The song is overlong and sometimes uninspired in some parts but I think it's a heavy, fast-paced and an overall step in the right direction for the band following Death/Beyond Magnetic, and it brings a good boost of hype to their fans while they wait for their new album to come out.

A different kind of not quite there. - 65%

hells_unicorn, July 17th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2014, Digital, Blackened Recordings

Metallica has very forgiving fans, despite the widespread condemnation of their many massive career mistakes in the name of misguided commercialism. If the average fan of this band wasn't forgiving, they wouldn't have any left to market to at this point. To dispense with the obvious, the first studio outing since the horrid abortion that was Lulu is an attempt to remedy yet another massive blunder and make good with the legions of battered spouses that make up Metallica's core audience. It comes in the form of a single with a sub-title of "First Pass Version" which would seem to suggest the band's keen awareness of how badly they've alienated their fans and are testing the waters to see whether or not they stand to be eaten alive by a legion of proverbial pissed off piranhas.

Suffice to say, "Lords Of Summer" is not a let down in the same sense of previous attempts at sneaking back into the metal medium, although it still leaves a good bit to be desired. After about 20 years of missing the mark, Lars has finally gotten it though his thick gnome skull that he needs to ease off the tension on the snare drum and also level out the mixing of his kit, almost to the point of at least getting things back to they were when "The Black Album" was put together. Similarly, the guitar sound has managed to regain at least some level of clarity and crunch, though it sounds a bit too warm and smooth for a thrash album. James Hetfield has likewise attempted to gruff up his voice a bit so that he doesn't quite sound like a depressed country & western hack, though at its grittiest it just manages to pass for how he sounded just before he blew his voice out in the mid 90s.

Where this song both succeeds to an extent but still comes up short is the songwriting department, and in a very similar fashion to the better moments heard on Death Magnetic. In a clear attempt to resurrect the long and repetitive character of ...And Justice For All, this thing coasts along for over 8 minutes while being stuck in the same tempo and feel. The riff work doesn't come off as terribly inspired and relies far too much on repetition, a problem that has dogged this band to varying degrees since the late 80s. The silver lining is that Kirk Hammett has been allotted a decent guitar solo section, though it sort of stands alone in what is otherwise a very contrived and redundant song. In essence, take any one of the leftover tracks from the 2012 Beyond Magnetic EP and give them a slightly better production and you have "Lords Of Summer".

This isn't a song that is necessarily worthy of the metal scrapheap, but if this is only a first draft of this song, Lars and company would do well to shave about 2 minutes worth of needless repetition off of this thing and Hetfield could do with a guitar tone with just a little more bite to it. Kicking the tempo up a bit might also be nice given that everybody is under the impression that this is supposed to be a return to thrash metal, despite it feeling like a slowed down version of a late 70s Judas Priest song. In other words, this is Metallica trying to be thrash again, but as the great Yoda quote goes, "Do or do not, there is not try".

Lords Of Redundancy - 30%

dystopia4, July 17th, 2014

On their new single "Lords of Summer", Metallica try their very hardest to be the band they were in the '80s. Here, they go through the motions, resurrecting old ideas in tired and hackneyed form. Sure, in terms of schematics, this may be as close to classic Metallica as they have been in a while. However, this sure as hell doesn't have that spark. This still has the sterile production that plagues modern Metallica and it never really treads into territory worth exploring. In the end, this is just a bloated corpse that far overstays its welcome - it tries so hard to be what they used to be, but this really isn't anything but barebones.

Preceding the release of the official single, they put up a "garage demo" version of the song. While this sounded pretty shitty, it's still a lot better than this version. The main reason for this is the production is garbage. It's completely sterile, killing the raw and energetic vibe they were hoping for. The riffs here are utterly uninspired and are so obvious and tired that it doesn't even seem like they are even trying. James' vocals seem a bit strained, as if he is getting too old and tired to really be able to put his heart into them anymore. The pathetic excuse for a solo confirms that they are just going through the motions, probably thinking that fans will be too happy that they are reverting back to a thrash sound to notice. It honestly seems like Kirk shat that rehashed tripe out on the spot. Lars' drumming shows that he's an absolute hack behind the kit, but this should come as a surprise to precisely no one.

The most inexplicable thing about "Lords of Summer" is that it's eight minutes long. Obviously, Metallica are no strangers to longer songs, but this has absolutely no rational reason to stretch much further than the four minute mark. Songs like "Orion" and "...and Justice for All" demanded to be long. This is long, seemingly, just for the hell of it. While castrated thrash in execution, the songwriting draws heavily from textbook rock. It's the type of typical verse-chorus-repeat thing that has no business being stretched out that long. The track ends up being more bloated than Rob Ford after a drunken all-you-can-eat buffet binge.

This track is disappointing, but not all that surprising. Metallica has been desperately struggling for relevance for a long time, and this is a testament to that. They tried pandering to a more mainstream rock crowd, they tried experimenting, they've tried exhuming the old thrashy corpse - the fact is, they've long outlived their usefulness as a band. Sure, this does bring back some old ideas (there are definitely some discernible nods to Masters of Puppets here and there), but it doesn't do anything with said ideas and just haphazardly regurgitates what we've all heard before done insurmountably better.

Metallica writes thrash again? - 75%

JewBaccaThrasher, July 12th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2014, Digital, Blackened Recordings

With the release of the Lords of Summer, it feels like Metallica are just trying a little too hard, though the results are far better than 'passable,' ironically. While not quite as contrived as the material found on Death Magnetic, Lords of Summer carries not only a similarly muddied production (more on that in a bit), but also the same sense of aimlessness that plagued their 2008 record. This song feels slightly experimental, like Metallica are trying to get a feel for what the fans expect from them. The result is an 8-minute pile of ideas that range from excellent to mediocre and/or bad.

Let's get down to the details. Lords of Summer, all in all, is the heaviest and thrashiest song Metallica has written since 1988. The guitar work, first of all, is quite good at parts. The main riff, along with the middle harmonized passage, and the riff at 6:45 all sound adequately powerful. Kirk's solo is decent too, though it needs tweaking. The drumming, surprisingly, manages to propel the song along at a moderate pace without sounding noticeably bad or totally monotonous. Lars is no Gene Hoglan, which is to say he certainly is not and can never be a god, but his fills and footwork aren't totally laughable either. The drums just work. Unfortunately there isn't much to say about Lars' rhythmic counterpart, Rob Trujillo, whose proficient bass is nearly inaudible. Next come James' vocals. For first impressions, I felt like his singing was gruffer and wilder than all his work on Death Magnetic. The whininess found on St. Anger and, to a lesser degree, DM, is completely gone, and a good bit of his grit is back. Lyrically, this song brings back a lot of elements from the Kill 'Em All days as well.

There are several glaring flaws, however. The chief problem is that the song is simply too damn long for it's own good. There are also not enough riffs to fill out the entire 8 minutes and 20 seconds. To compensate for this, James and Kirk repeat the riffs in order to maintain the song structure, mostly at the cost of my patience. The production is another problem. It lacks the punch of their 80's material, though it's not quite as bad as the production of DM and St. Anger. The guitars just don't have the right kind of distortion or tone that belong in thrash metal. However, it's important to keep in mind that this is a simple demo song of sorts, and shouldn't be entirely judged as a finished product. Metallica appear to be interested in writing thrash metal again, which I'd say is a good thing, though it remains to be seen if they can actually pull it off with the competence of their early 80's records. Good luck to them.

Lords Of Metal Have Returned! - 86%

Drummerboy25, July 7th, 2014

So after 3 years Metallica has finally released some new content. And I must say, it does not disappoint! Sure, it's not Progressive and epic like Master Of Puppets or AFJA, but it has energy and passion not seen since Kill 'Em All. The song is quite good! It's a thrashy and youthful track. It's sort of a cross between Kill 'Em All and The infamous Black Album. The one thing about this song that annoys me most is that it's too damn long! Seriously, they need to trim it a little! Metallica has always been great with long songs (Ex. Disposable Heroes, Creeping Death, Master Of Puppets, Ride The Lightning, And Justice For All) but this one drags on a tad bit too long. Aside from that, I have been very supportive of where Metallica has been going with their music ever since Death Magnetic (Despite what others say, Death Magnetic was amazing, but that's a whole other story.)

About the song itself, James Hetfield's rhythm playing is phenomenal like it has always been, and the riffs are powerful and memorable, (Especially that main riff!). Lars' playing is basic as always, but nonetheless effective, Kirk's leads aren't the best, but they still are quite good and enjoyable, and (sadly) Robert Trujillo's bass has been sidelined. Seriously, what does Metallica have against their bassists?? You can almost never hear the bass on any of Metallica's albums (even with Cliff!!) I still prefer Death Magnetic and the Beyond Magnetic EP over this track, however. I hope this marks Metallica's true return to form (As much as I loved Death Magnetic, it lacked a certain few things), a true return to form like Slayer's World Painted Blood or Megadeth's Endgame.

All in all, I can't wait to hear their new album (Which is taking them too long to make, stop touring and get your asses in the studio!!).

Lords of not very much at all - 15%

The Reluctant Asshole, June 25th, 2014

Alright… so there’s something new from the Metallica camp. Yup, grumbles and sighs abound – the ageing bastards are still trying to come up with something decent since the release of …And Justice For All. They’ve had their moments here and there since then, and I’m not one of those people who absolutely abhor their self-titled album – I just find it really quite boring. And boring is pretty much the word to describe this single release, Lords of Summer.

What’s on offer here is a single track that’s over eight minutes long – and boy is it a long eight minutes. Gone are the days of Metallica keeping lengthy songs interesting with constantly changing riffs and some light-heavy shades offering some slight variation. This is about as one-dimensional as it gets. Trying to return to their thrash roots for a while now, Metallica has miserably failed to even compete with the weaker lot of the recent old school thrash revival bands. There are probably a thousand bedroom thrash bands writing better songs than this slab of plodding sick.

From what I understand, a live version was made public a few months ago, and this is now the band’s 'studio' representation of the song... it's supposed to be more of a demo, but these guys are hardly recording on a 4-track Fostex. Metallica has supposedly been trying to produce their recordings in a rawer, stripped-down fashion recently and all those years of ruining their hearing playing live have paid off – they can no longer hear the difference between ‘raw’ and shit. The production is completely flat and sounds as if it hasn’t even been mastered; it’s completely sterile. At least Lars’ drums sound okay for a change and Hetfield’s vocals aren’t quite as pathetic as you’d expect at this point, though providing a chuckle here and there, and there’s one decent riff that pops up later in the song… but that’s it: those are the only selling points of this release.

What’s the point of this single, then? Today, having access to resources like YouTube, etc. where you can hear the live versions of songs like these, this single is about as pointless and depressing as a Lars Ulrich drum solo – it simply serves as an indication of a band having regressed to the point of barely being able to play with any intent or creativity (or in Kirk Hammet’s case, simply being able to play). It may not be as bad as Lulu, an album upon which I take a figurative shit, but avoid this piece of crap like an Aids-infected junkie’s heroin needle. ‘Lords of Summer’, by its utter mediocrity, is one of the most offensive things I’ve heard this year.