Metallica: Hardwired…to…

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Hit The Lights” was the first track I ever heard from Metallica. I liked the energy and aggression I heard. I thought myself “These guys have something here.”

Well, we all know how that turned out. Metallica, for me at least, has had its ups and downs. But this is something to expect when people grow and their life situations change around them. In the beginning there was a hunger in them, a drive, a sense of angry passion to be heard, they had something to prove.

Over time Metallica went through some changes that like it or not affected the direction of the band.

By the time Kill ‘Em All was released the lineup consisted of James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, and Cliff Burton. The kings of thrash were ready to kick ass and take names.

We got two more fantastic records from this lineup Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets before the tragic death of bassist Cliff Burton. This is where I feel the first chapter closed and the band began to undergo some changes.

The hard choice for them at this time was to find someone who could step up and climb aboard the speeding freight train that was Metallica at this time. That someone had some seriously big shoes to fill as Cliff Burton was a fan favorite. Metallica tapped Jason Newsted to fill those shoes. We probably have all heard the stories of the hazing, the turning down of the bass during recording, blah blah blah, yada yada yada. This was band business and not fan business and we can only speculate as what really went on. This, however, I feel was the catalyst for change in Metallica.

…And Justice for All gave us a different Metallica sound than we were used to. In my opinion a more mature less frantic sound. Not all together bad, just different than before. The next release, Metallica, furthered that change and ultimately became their best-selling record to date and broadened their fan base immensely while at the same time alienating some of their hardcore fans. Suddenly people who looked at you like you were crazy for liking Metallica before were “fans”. And, again this is just my opinion, they became drunk with success.

Despite what we have all heard the members of Metallica are all human and such, subject to the limitations of that. Life experience and growth is what I attribute to the changes in style we saw with the release of Load and Reload. Less thrash and more experimental musical songs combined with image change further pushed their early hardcore fans away and thrust Metallica into the mainstream world.

I happened to respect their changes and growth. While I loved the early aggressive sound, I found an appreciation for this new sound that reflected life changes even as I found myself growing and maturing.

And then, another shakeup, Jason Newsted was out of the picture. No replacement was announced and producer Bob Rock filled in on St. Anger and we were let into the inside world of their lives and problems with the film Some Kind of Monster. The release St. Anger gave us yet another style of Metallica. People panned the writing and production, and others panned the recording. The fair-weather “fans” that came on board with Metallica silently folded their Metallica shirts and placed their CD’s and records on dusty shelves and moved on to the next flavor of the month. The hardcore fans continued to grumble and listen to the early stuff and prayed for a return to the thrash sounds of old…

I have been a longtime fan of Rob Trujillo’s work and was excited to hear of his addition to the Metallica lineup. I had to wait until Death Magnetic dropped to get that chance. While I found this to be a good, solid record I had still expected a little more. Good but not great in my opinion. I did catch them on the Death Magnetic tour and the energy and passion given to the old school tracks was fantastic to see. I refused to give up on Metallica.

I am not even going to speak on Lulu as I feel it not to be a Metallica album (maybe I’ll talk about it down the road on a collaborations article).

All of this leads us to today. Metallica broke the internet yesterday when they released the new track “Hardwired…to Self-Destruct”. All day long I saw back and forth postings about the track. Name calling, bashing, criticisms, speculations…. on and on. My personal thoughts on it? I liked it. Did I love it? Not really. Do I appreciate it? ABSOFRICKINGLUTELY!!!

I posed the question on Facebook yesterday asking if a band that was once relevant could once again gain said relevance in today’s day and age where people just want to hear the “hits” and only the “hits”. Yes, I was talking about Metallica and the upcoming album Hardwired…to Self-Destruct. Given the effect they had on the internet yesterday what do YOU think?

 

It’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s METALLICA!!!

  -the Hellion 

Metallica has jumped the shark (in my opinion)

rant

Many years ago some pissed off disaffected young men decided to tell the world how they were feeling. Their medium: loud, fast, and aggressive music, their name? METALLICA!!!!

When James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich got their shit together and put Dave Mustaine and Cliff Burton in the lineup they were ready to shake up the Rock N’ Roll world. They were loud, obnoxious, and very much what we needed in music at that time.

They then went to New York to record their debut record with which they planned sonic assault on the eardrums of the world, which is when they began their race to “jump the shark” so to say.

Nobody was madder and more disaffected than Dave Mustaine (if you doubt me listen to his music even to this day). When they kicked him out and replaced him with Kirk Hammett from Exodus they started down that road to the shark.

While we got some really good music from Metallica in the early days the clock was ticking for our young anarchists.

Keep in mind these are just my thoughts on Metallica and how I feel they have jumped the shark. Like I stated earlier I believe their path to jumping said shark was with the dismissal of Dave Mustaine. I do indeed own every release by Metallica and I have passed my judgment as this: the so-called Black album was the demise of Metallica in that I feel the loss  of any fire and passion in their music. Yes, there were some great tracks here and there in the subsequent records but none that were solid from open to close.  Now am I saying Metallica sucks? Not a chance, they just aren’t making the music that I fell in love with anymore. I will continue to purchase their future releases and give them a fair listen and hope for that spark to reappear, but I am not holding my breath. I will thank them for the back catalog of music that still put my fist in the air but inside I weep when I listen to St. Anger….

Rest In Peace Cliff Burton, I have always admired and respected you and your style of playing.

 

It’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s ROCK N’ ROLL!

-the Hellion

 

The bassists of Metallica, my thoughts and opinions

A conversation arose today at work about Metallica. This lead to talking about the various bassists that have been in the band. This conversation got me thinking and has led me to write my thoughts and opinions down.

Ron McGovney – 1982: Ron was the original bassist for Metallica. There are very few recordings of Ron with the band. It is said he left the band due to conflicts with band members. You can hear Ron if you are lucky enough to have Metal Massacre Volume 1. This, by the way, is a great record.  Ron left the band and closed his chapter with Metallica.

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MM1_detail

 

Cliff Burton – 1982 to 1986: Cliff Burton will always be my favorite Metallica bassist. It is my opinion that Cliff brought a sense of heaviness to the band. He was that “cool guy” that everyone wanted to be or that guy that we all wanted to hang out with, and the one that your parents wouldn’t approve of. The records Cliff made with Metallica remain my favorites. Kill ‘Em All, Ride The Lightning, Master Of Puppets, are Metallica at its finest. Cliff had such a presence and skill about him. He inspired a lot of musicians in his time. Unfortunately the world lost Cliff on 09/27/86 (my 22nd birthday by the way). Thank you Cliff for the music you left with us.

532px-Clifford_Burton_Memorial_Stone_At_Crash_Site

Jason Newsted – 1986 to 2001:  Jason had some pretty big shoes to fill, and grieving band members to contend with.   The $5.98 E.P.: Garage Days Re-Revisited, …And Justice For All, Metallica, Load, and Reload are the studio albums Jason made with the band. In my opinion after …And Justice For All the band headed in a direction that began to alienate their hardcore fans. I feel Jason was grossly under appreciated during his time with Metallica. I was familiar with Jason from his previous band  Flotsam And Jetsam and was impressed with his playing. Unfortunately things didn’t work out with Jason and Metallica and they parted ways. Jason is currently killing it with his new band Newsted which showcases his talents.

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Robert Trujillo – 2003 to present: Robert has always been one of my favorite bassists. However, not for Metallica (I know, I know, a bold statement.) Rob has only recorded one studio album, Death Magnetic. Rob is a seasoned bassist, I first heard of him with Suicidal Tendencies. Wow! I was hooked instantly by his style and stage presence. Infectious Grooves, Jerry Cantrell, Black Label Society,Glenn Tipton, Mass Mental? Ozzy, Robert got around. I was, however, disappointed when I heard of his joining Metallica. I just feel that his style and presence does not lend anything to Metallica (again, this is just my opinion).

481px-Robert_Trujillo_live_in_London_2008-09-15 

Well, there you have it. My opinions on the bassists of Metallica. Not dragging anyone through the mud just voicing my thoughts. I think that Metallica has evolved as the members have grown and experienced life changes. While there is nothing wrong with this, they have grown into a band that no longer interests me. Their new music does not attract me in the least.

I am interested in your thoughts, please chime in and leave some feedback!

it’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s ROCK N’ ROLL!

– the Hellion

CLIFF BURTON ARIA PRO II SIGNATURE BASS AT 2013 NAMM CONVENTION

at the Aria Booth - NAMM 2013

at the Aria Booth – NAMM 2013

Several weeks prior to the NAMM show I had been talking to James Chen from Aria about this bass. We were fortunate to get an exclusive interview with Mr. Chen on the first day of NAMM:

     I got the chance to hold the prototype bass and was rendered speechless at its awesomeness.

the Cliff Burton prototype bass

the Cliff Burton prototype bass

I was honored to meet the Executive Vice President of Aria, Toshi Matsumura as well. Mr. Matsumura was gracious and thanked us for stopping by. This was quite an honor to be thanked by such a man. All in all a fantastic experience. Thank you to Mr. Chen, Mr. Matsumura, Cliff Burton, Ray Burton, and NAMM 2013 for this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Ray Burton and James Chen - photo courtesy of James Chen

Ray Burton and James Chen – photo courtesy of James Chen

James Chen and Ray Burton - photo courtesy of James Chen

James Chen and Ray Burton – photo courtesy of James Chen

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http://www.ariaguitars.com/english/

Tragically we lost Cliff on 09/27/1986 but his legacy lives on through his music and people like his father and the fine folks at Aria guitars. Happy Birthday Cliff I will always remember and respect you.

Cliff_Burton_-_by_Fruggo

Clifford Lee Burton 02/10/62 - 09/27/86 Rest In Peace Brother

Clifford Lee Burton 02/10/62 – 09/27/86
Rest In Peace Brother

NAMM 2013 – MY THOUGHTS AND PICTURES part 1

After a LONG, LONG drive from NM to Los Angeles CA we got some sleep and woke up and headed to Anaheim to take in the experience that was NAMM 2013.

outside of NAMM 2013

outside of NAMM 2013

It started out with my typical run of luck. My partner in NAMM 2013, Charlie M.F. Owens, rolled in and was badged in a matter of minutes. Me, not so lucky, I was told “your badge has already been printed, so go to the badge pickup line.” I did, no badge, and was told “oh, you’re media, go to this other building to get your badge.” Again, I did, waited in line got up to the counter and…..”Hmm sir your badge won’t print out, you need to go to this other line.” Yet again, I did and finally, just as I was losing hope….SUCCESS!!! I have to give credit to the NAMM staff. They were handling the HUGE influx of people efficiently and with smiles on their faces.

We got in and were wowed by the amount of gear and people there.Our first mission was to attend a press conference help by Orange Amplification http://www.orangeamps.com/. They were launching a new, revolutionary tube tester.  Video of the press conference will be available soon on our www.rockunight.com site.

Orange Amp press conference

Orange Amp press conference

We headed towards the Aria booth as I had been in contact with them about something special.  The Cliff Burton signature bass guitar. We stood in awe of it as we were shown the prototype by Mr. James Chen. He was the man behind the design and build of this amazing bass, and he gave us an exclusive interview of the bass and it’s design. http://www.ariaguitars.com/  The interview will be available soon on our www.rockunight.com site. Here’s a pic of this amazing bass:

Cliff Burton Signature Bass by Aria

Cliff Burton Signature Bass by Aria

Cliff Burton Bass poster

Cliff Burton Bass poster

We wondered about in wonder at all of the bells and whistles, glam and glitz that was NAMM 2013 day one. In our travels we ran into one Rikki Rockett at his Rockett Drum Works Booth. http://www.rockettdrumworks.com/

Rikki Rockett - Rockett Drum Works

Rikki Rockett – Rockett Drum Works

 

to be continued…..

 

the Hellion

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHEN A BAND CHANGES DIRECTION (OR DOESN’T)

How many times have you heard “This band sold out” or “That band went mainstream”? I have heard this about several bands throughout the years. Let;s take a look at several bands that have “changed direction” , or have stayed the same and if that has worked for them.

     QUEEN 1971 – 1991 the Freddie Mercury years

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen remains one of my favorite bands of all times. The band was constantly evolving and changing throughout their career. They explored many styles of music during their recording career. They were never afraid to branch out and explore their creativity. Here are two songs that show their diversity. The world lost a beautiful soul when Freddie Mercury passed away in 1991, we will forever miss and love you Freddie, thank you for your music. Queen pulled off, to great success, changing directions.

“Keep Yourself Alive” from QUEEN – 1973

“These Are The Days Of Our Lives” from INNUENDO – 1991

MEGADETH 1983 to present

Megadeth is a band who has stayed true to their original vision. Their style of speed/thrash metal has pretty much been a constant throughout their career. While some will say it has hurt their career, their fans remain loyal, and their record sales constant. I say cheers to Dave and crew (though they have changed over the years) keep it going! Staying true to their direction has worked for Megadeth.

“Peace Sells” from Peace Sells…but Who’s Buying? – 1986

“Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)” from Th1rt3en – 2011

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS 1983 to present

This band has always been in a special place in my heart. Never afraid to be who they are, always giving their all to their fans. Their members and styles have changed throughout the years but they have always managed to pull it off. Playing what they want to and disregarding the critics their music reflects the colorful personalities that infuse this band. Many people have tried to pigeonhole this band to a certain genre, to no avail. I call them a Rock N’ Roll band PERIOD. Thank you RHCP, you have given my soul much joy. Keep growing and evolving and stay true to your passions.

“True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes” from The Red Hot Chili Peppers – 1984

“The Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie” – from I’m With You – 2011

METALLICA – 1981 to present

Ahhh Metallica, the source of great contention amongst metal heads. Some say they sold out with the “Black” album, some say they didn’t. I think they have made some questionable choices in the past years, but they remain strong as one of the driving forces in metal music. As part of being human we are constantly changing and growing (well, some of us do) as the events surrounding us dictate. The guys in Metallica are not immune. Growing older, gaining families, becoming financially stable HAS to affect them, and their music. I, for one, appreciate that fact and despite their making some music that does not always appeal to me I stand by this band and remain a fan. R.I.P. Cliff Burton, miss you!

“No Remorse” from Kill ‘Em All – 1983

“All Nightmare Long” from Death Magnetic – 2008

GUNS N’ ROSES 1985 to present???

GNR WHAT HAPPENED?!?!?!? They were poised to take over the world and instead they burned it down. The energy of the the five original members was the perfect combination. Then the backup singers, the keyboard players, the horn section, etc… etc… sigh. I know this band has been the topic of great controversy, and probably will remain so for a long, long time. I will always remain in love with early GNR and the music they made and I am grateful for that, post original five, not so much. I personally believe the direction that the band took killed them (this is my humble opinion). Oh well we have our memories…. if we could only find our way back to the jungle.

“Welcome To The Jungle” from Appetite For Destruction – 1987

“This I Love” from Chinese Democracy – 2008

BLACK LABEL SOCIETY 1998 to present

Ahhh BLS, now here’s a band that I totally get. Members have come and gone and yet this band gets stronger and stronger. Great music year after year, record after record and a loyal fan base that unifies together as one big BLS family. Zakk Wylde never shies away from playing whatever he wants, piano based ballads, acoustic songs, full out electric, it matters not to Zakk. With BLS it never grows stagnant and you will never be bored! GI/FD!!!

“Born To Lose” from Sonic Brew – 1999

“Overlord” from Order Of The Black – 2010

These are just my opinions on bands that have (or have not) changed direction, please feel free to comment or message me with your ideas or thoughts and I will post them here.

the Hellion

TOP 5 ROCK BASS PERFORMANCES – IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BOTTOM END!

 

I was talking to a friend today and he asked me what I thought were the five best bass performances in Rock N’ Roll. Hmmm… hard  question but I’ll give my opinion on it and see what happens. I love the bass and the weight that it gives to Rock music. So let’s check it out. Keep in mind these are in no particular order they are just the five that stand above the others.

1. Cliff Burton (METALLICA) “FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS”  (LIVE) [CLIFF ‘EM  ALL]

The aggressiveness of Cliff’s playing style in the intro to this song amazes me to this day. I will always remain in awe of him and wonder what more he would have given to us. Enjoy and remember:

2. JOHN ENTWISTLE (THE WHO) “BABA O’RILEY” (LIVE) 1978

The way John carries the song’s intro is magnificent. John’s solid performance style and coolness when he was laying down massive bass lines will forever influence bass players for years to come. Look at his hands, watch and listen:

3. GEEZER BUTLER (BLACK SABBATH) BASSICALLY/N.I.B.

What can I say, utter brilliance here. The riff is as iconic as any guitar riff. Geezer carries this song with majesty, a lot of bass players learn this bass line and try to honor it. I have seen Geezer play it live and it is just as magnificent as it is on record. Listen and get lost:

4. BILLY COX (JIMI HENDRIX) “DOLLY DAGGER” 

Just listen to the bass line and you’ll hear why it is included. Billy was an amazing player period. If you’ve never heard of him look up his stuff and prepare to get blown away.:

5. STEVE HARRIS (IRON MAIDEN) “PHANTOM OF THE OPERA”  (LIVE) 1980

Steve Harris and his monster bass runs make him one the most inspiring bassists in rock history. (Besides if I didn’t include Steve Eddie’s Mates would lynch me). I have always been inspired by Steve’s playing style. This is for you Eddie’s Mates:

By no means is this a complete list. There are so many more to list. These five however, jumped into my mind immediately. Please give me YOUR input!

the Hellion