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RANT 14

Alternica

Bæleron

"When a man lies, he murders some part of the world. These are the pale deaths which men miscall their lives. All this I cannot bear to witness any longer. Cannot the kingdomof salvation take me home?"
– Cliff Burton in To Live Is To Die

I used to be a huge Metallica fan. At one point in the mid 80s I would have sworn that the heavy metal world was ruled by two bands: Iron Maiden and Metallica. No other bands could touch them. Although their respective sounds were very different, they were united by the common threads of intelligent lyrics, complex song structure, and over-the-top guitars. Likewise, both bands shared the true metal spirit of uncompromising honesty and distaste for the burgeoning glam-metal industry. It was always about the music with Maiden and Metallica. One of the first things that attracted me to Metallica was the fact that they dressed like I did. No make-up and silk, and no poser bullshit. Like Maiden, what you heard was what you got. That was then.

"If you came for spandex, eye-makeup, and the words 'oh baby' in every song,you're at the wrong fucking show."
– James Hetfield, 1985

"We're the underdogs. We haven't had a Top 10 hit, and we look like a bunch of bums out there. Amidst all this glam and this huge production, we're going to stick out. But that's what we're here for – and that's what put us here in the first place."
– Kirk Hammett, 1988

"Bang that head that doesn't bang."
– Quoted on the Kill 'Em All sleeve.

Now fast-forward 15 years. Metallica are the world's undisputed kings of "metal". Their music is played non-stop on popular media, their albums go multi-platinum, and any venue that they care to play is invariably sold out. There is no question that Metallica has been embraced by popular culture. Contrast this with Iron Maiden, who's decline in the 90s paralleled that of the entire metal scene. The band who once sold out five consecutive nights at the Long Beach Arena were reduced to playing in tiny venues to aging audiences. Although they released (in my opinion) some of their best material, some fans openly questioned whether Maiden should even continue to exist.

"As soon as someone else said 'You're good but you should go more commercial' or 'You're good but you should cut your hair' we said 'Oh, all right', and walked out."
– Steve Harris

So what accounts for the difference? Why have Metallica been kings of the world while Maiden have struggled to survive? Despite the defection of Bruce Dickinson, Iron Maiden never compromised their sound and style. Yes there was an evolution during the Blaze Bayley era, as well as some overall maturation in the songwriting. But in essence Iron Maiden remained Iron Maiden. The uncompromising attitude never wavered, and it was obvious to virtually every fan whether they liked Blaze Bayley or not that Iron Maiden was still making the music that was in their hearts. Some never could accept Blaze Bayley, and the welcome for Bruce Dickinson when he returned to the Maiden camp was essentially unanimous. Yet the unwavering and uncompromising attitude of the band cannot be doubted.

"The 'One' video proved to us that things we thought of as evil aren't as evil as we thought – as long as we do it our way"
– Lars Ulrich

"Right now we're standing at a massive point of rebirth."
– Lars Ulrich

Metallica's path through the 90s was very different from that of Iron Maiden. Their first real breakthrough into popular culture came with the Black Album in 1991. From there the road led unerringly upward, leading Metallica to their current position atop of the music world. The success of the Black Album and the meteoric rise which followed it was no accident. It had been prefaced by the release of the 'One' video, a compromise to the popular media which Metallica had previously violently opposed. The Black Album itself was a departure from the previous albums, featuring songs of simpler and more media-palatable structure, as well as the infusion of a distinct blues element. Gone were the complex and often rambling multi-faceted epic songs in the vein of 'Master Of Puppets'. Gone too were the depressive minor-key songs – for the first time in Metallica's career the Black Album featured upbeat songs with a happier mood. A few songs still bore the mark of vintage Metallica – 'Of Wolf And Man' and 'The God That Failed' come to mind. But in general the album was a significant departure, and looking back it was an ominous herald of what was to come.

QUESTION: How do you feel about some of the "so called fans" saying that Metallica has "sold out" or "gone mainstream"?
ANSWER: I believe that the real fans know the real story and that the mainstream came to us.

– Lars Ulrich, AOL chat, 1996

It wasn't until 1996 that Metallica finally delivered the crushing boot to the heads of their long-time fans. The album was entitled Load, a curiously alternative-sounding title with an alternative-friendly cover featuring a new logo and a picture of something resembling raw egg or perhaps puke. And puking is exactly what I wanted to do when I checked out the CD booklet! Who were these alternative schmucks? Short punky hair. Makeup. Assorted body piercing. Clothing like what you'd expect to find in the wardrobe of a cheap pimp. What the hell was this? In a way I was lucky because the booklet had prepared me for what I would find on the CD. Bluesy-bullshit metal, reminiscent of one of my most hated bands the Black Crowes. "Hey, is that Metallica? Cool!" said my wife. I threw the CD across the room in disgust.

"Every time we put a record out, we lose people that can't deal with the growth,"
– Lars Ulrich, 1996

To their credit, Metallica has always steadfastly maintained that their new direction was a result of their own personal interests and growth as musicians. They have vehemently denied "selling out", and they obviously believe it. I wish it was as easy for me to believe it. From their appearance, Metallica underwent a complete corporate makeover. It began innocently with the 'One' video... perhaps its success was what made the band and its management realize the band's potential. The new bluesy direction of the Black Album and it's overwhelming commercial success cemented the idea, and after that everything was altered. A new alternative-friendly sound. A new fashion-friendly look for the band. A new logo and a symbol vaguely resembling a swastika. I believe it was an intelligently calculated ploy, and it worked to perfection. Five people bought the new albums for every long-time fan who traded in the CDs in disgust. Alternative culture couldn't get enough of the new Metallica, and they're still riding high.

"As long as it says Metallica on the record it's Metallica."
– Lars Ulrich, 1996

QUESTION: "Will you ever return to the old Metallica style?"
ANSWER: "Do you walk backwards? There is one Metallica. We have many styles, it's called Metallica."

– James Hetfield

Like many long-time fans, I was never able to come to terms with the new Metallica. Recently someone pointed out the apparent contradiction in my accepting and defending the recent Iron Maiden albums while at the same time denouncing the new Metallica. Aren't I just like the fans who denounced Maiden during the Blaze years? This was an interesting observation that is worth commenting on. For me it all really boils down to the music in the end. Although the new Metallica image disgusts me, I do not believe that it would have affected me much if I had liked the music. But I have always disliked bluesy music, and I can't listen to the new Metallica sound. After throwing the CD aside in disgust, I eventually went back and gave it a fair listen, hoping that it would somehow grow on me. But alas! On the other hand, the recent Iron Maiden albums grew on me so much that I now consider The X Factor to be among the best albums Maiden ever made. Is it hypocritical to appreciate Iron Maiden while scorning Metallica? I don't think so. For me, great music always appealed to something deep and powerful inside me that I couldn't explain. Iron Maiden has continued to move me. Metallica has not.

Today I'm actually happy that things turned out the way they did. My disgust with the new Metallica sound led me into an experimentation phase where I discovered some of the best music in my life. I might never have discovered Iced Earth and Blind Guardian were it not for the Metallica debacle. So in a twisted sort of way I'm actually grateful to Metallica. And I still listen to their classic 80s albums and remember their days of true greatness.

Bæleron
5th November 1999

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 Cliff Burton
HAIL CLIFF!
May his memory and his music live forever.


RESPONSES:

Gautam:

Hey Baeleron,

You have a wonderful webpage that I have been visiting for a while. It is definitely one of the most creative and one section I do enjoy is the rants section. I just found something that sorta bothered me. Before I start though, I just wanna say that I am not trying to be an asshole or anything like that, I am just trying to stick up for my favorite band Metallica. In your first rant, you discuss the changes Iron Maiden has made and you give a reason why fans should appreciate the new albums as much as they do the old. I quote your first rant:

"A second point that is often overlooked is that the band members are artists. And like any other type of art, music can only have true meaning if it comes from the heart. Since their earliest beginnings, Iron Maiden has always made the kind of music that THEY wanted to make. It took them several years to land a record deal simply because they refused to play punk, which was the popular fad at that time. If they had merely pandered to popular opinion, where would they be now? Maiden should be commended for their backbone, both then and now. Asking them to abandon it is like asking them to sell out. Iron Maiden has demonstrated their ability to rise to stardom on their own terms, and to survive hard times that have crushed virtually every other metal band of their era. They must continue to chart their own course.

One thing I'm unable to comprehend is how some fans can't seem to appreciate the newer albums. Sure they are a bit different from the 80's material. But each of them contains songs that are completely inspired and would belong on any "best of" compilation. I guess it's a matter of personal taste, but it's still difficult to understand.

Another thing I have trouble comprehending is why some fans cannot accept change. They seem to expect and even demand that a band remain essentially static, continually rehashing the same old style and material. Not only would this quickly become tedious to the musicians, it would soon become tiring to the fans as well. For example, every AC/DC album for the last 2 decades has sounded pretty much identical, and I'd wager that the only AC/DC material that can be considered classic dates back to their first few albums. (When was the last time you listened to Flick Of The Switch?) Clearly, getting stuck in a rut is not beneficial to either the band or the fans."

The point I am trying to make with this quote is that you can replace the words "Iron Maiden" with "Metallica" and your analysis should stay the same. And I certainly do agree with your analysis, it is just that you choose to bias yourself against Metallica. In your rant titled "Alternica," you address this issue of contradiction by saying that:

"For me it all really boils down to the music in the end. Although the new Metallica image disgusts me, I do not believe that it would have affected me much if I had liked the music."

I will answer this by using on of your own quotes from Rant #1 – "don't try to ruin the situation for those of us who do like the new albums." I have never responded to flames concerning that Metallica has sold out because they are usually made by people who don't think at all. I decided to respond to this because I feel that you would give a much better response (if any) than most people on the internet. I am fan of both Metallica and Iron Maiden, and I like both their old and new styles. Don't mistake me for a person who just follows anything the band will do, I just happen to like most kinds of hard rock and metal. I have one quick question for you – Do you think you are possibly biased against Metallica because it is "cool" for "true metal fans" to disassociate themselves from the new image? I ask this because I feel this is one of the real reasons fans of Old Metallica are not fans of New Metallica. To clarify, I don't like all the songs on Metallica's new albums ('Ronnie', 'Attitude' and a few others), but I don't think that is a reason to call the whole album worthless. There are many songs on these albums that would be considered nothing but metal ('Fuel', 'Devil's Dance', 'Aint' My Bitch', 'King Nothing' etc..) and I think this is enough to still call Metallica a metal band. Iron Maiden has released songs on their more recent albums such as 'Man On The Edge' and 'Angel And The Gambler' that would receive more airplay other than the fact that Maiden is not as popular in the US and the songs are long. Just as I don't consider Iron Maiden to have "sold out" in any respect, I don't think it would be fair to put the same label on Metallica.

Sincerely
Gautam P.
9th March 2000

Answer:

Before I respond I just want to say that I enjoy getting this type of intelligent feedback, and I also appreciate having my errors pointed out.

Anyway, I think I do understand the point you're making, that it's inconsistent and somewhat hypocritical for me to flame people who bash the new Maiden while I simultaneously bash the new Metallica. And you are right. But let me expand on what the rants were trying to say. If you were involved with the Maiden usenet forum during '97 and '98 you'll remember all the virulent Maiden and Blaze bashing that was going on. There was an attempt at an email campaign to get rid of Blaze. There were people chanting "Bruce! Bruce! Bruce!" at Maiden concerts. A few sick individuals were even threatening physical violence against Maiden. When I wrote "... don't try to ruin the situation for those of us who do like the new albums...." in Rant #1, I was referring to this type of asinine behaviour which was intended solely to harass, intimidate, and destroy. There is a big difference between this and merely expressing an opinion. Remember the old saying, "opinions are like assholes... everyone has one and most of them stink." I'm not claiming that my opinions stink any more or less than anyone else's but I do think opinions are important as long as they are intended to persuade, not intimidate, and preferably are intelligent and well thought out.

It's ok for me not to like the new Metallica, but you won't find me flaming on the Metallica newsgroup, chanting at Metallica concerts, or in any other way ruining it for those who do like the new albums. Likewise, it's ok for people not to like some Maiden albums, as long as they don't make assholes of themselves about it.

Bæleron
9th March 2000

 

Robert:

May I warn you, There will be no concessions.

Bands change, plain & simple.

Now, about the music. The music's there, but what you might be looking for is a crunchy riff-o-rama. Too bad. Metallica has put out stuff like 'Bleeding Me' and 'The Out Law Torn' in their Load album, and 'Fixxxer' on the Re-Load album which do contain the structure you say is allegedly absent. It’s not what you expect from Metallica though, and that’s the beauty of Metallica: expect the unexpected because they cannot be defined. They refuse to be defined because they wouldn’t be writing music that’s true to themselves. Personal satisfaction makes musicians, and Metallica remain musicians by writing to their standards which are very high considering what they’ve written in the past. What they have done is transcended the small and conventional category of metal. Yes, I believe heavy metal is extremely predictable, though that doesn’t mean there’s internal variations within the music. Some however, like Death Metal and Black Metal are VERY tiresome and predictable, but that’s another argument.

The media and success in fact--did come to Metallica. Had the popular music genre at the time been say...Punk, would Metallica have still been as successful? They would. Metallica was totally different from the aqua net reign of glam bands, and their uncompromising sound, attitude, and image sold itself without the benefit of it being the mainstream style. However, this does not mean Metallica purposely torn more pairs of jeans and grew more facial hair for the sake of album sales.

What people think is that Metallica sold out. Let’s clear one thing up: Metallica has never claimed to BE metal, the epitome of metal, or the flagship of metal. How could some one sell out to what they’ve never claimed to be/represent? It makes no sense, none at all. The hair comes to mind, which is incredibly silly bearing in mind no one has flamed Bruce for cutting his hair, and considering some of his vocals currently with Maiden are VERY uninspired (particularly the live performance of 'Futureal' on the Wickerman single).

Also, I cannot understand your bias on Metallica as well as Maiden material, which is any song that sounds happy must be repulsive. I have heard metal songs with great structure and a happy sound (Marty Friedman’s 'Thunder March' comes to mind), so I do not understand what’s the big deal. Classical music, Romantic music, Classical influenced instrumental metal, I have heard pieces from all of these categories and each have their share of light hearted tunes. Obviously, all being classical or classical influence, I refuse to acknowledge the argument that these pieces have poor structure. Now, if your personal taste is brooding, depressing, and to the extreme extent "Wah, poor me" music, then please do not insult open minded listeners by denouncing these pieces with happy tones as repulsive.

On a closing note, Alternica is a very ignorant term by assuming any other "raw" music besides heavy metal is simply Smashing Pumpkins/Alice in Chains alternative. Hard rock exists – and that MIGHT be what Metallica is.

Robert G.
10th December 2000

Answer:

What you wrote is an excellent answer to Baeleron's rant. I personally have had a few very light arguments with him about it, but I couldn't have put it any better than you did. Intelligent and well-written feedback like yours is always welcome. What Baeleron wrote in his Alternica rant is only the expression of his own tastes and of his own feelings. I personally enjoy the "new" Metallica just as much as the older stuff (unlike Baeleron, I like a bit of a bluesy feel in a song). I was mainly disappointed in the band's attitude during the infamous Napster episode. They probably had the right to sue but I personally think it gave them a pretty bad press. There must be other ways to preserve your work from being "misused".

From this year's Q&A on the official Iron Maiden site:

Question: "What is your opinion of the widespread Napster epidemic?"
Steve: "I think MP3 is here to stay and people have to rethink the way they do things in the future."

The same could be said about bootlegs, and Steve Harris has on this subject yet again a very positive attitude.

From last year's Q&A on the official Iron Maiden site:

Question: "What do you think about bootlegs?"
Steve: "I have some... I collect them."

There isn't much that can be done about either bootlegs or MP3s, so it may be preferable to be philosophical about it.

On the subject of Metallica's new dressing style and haircuts, I personally don't mind as I've always thought that the music was more important than the looks. You are totally right in the way that no-one ever criticised Bruce Dickinson for cutting his hair (but I wonder why anyone should anyway). However, a lot of bands have a certain look that represents a specific style not only of music, but also of thinking. Long hair and leather jackets do not only represent the Heavy Metal music, but also the "Metal attitude", and the fans – mostly the younger ones – are very sensitive to this kind of thing.

Concerning the "happy" side of music, this is also a point upon which Baeleron and I disagree. I cannot really speak for him, but let's say hat it's more a matter of taste than anything and that he's certainly not the kind of person to indulge in self-pity. Baeleron just prefers darker tones (which eventually led him to appreciate Death Metal), whereas I don't like them so much. I appreciate more Mozart's earlier work, for instance, as the music is more cheerful, but I still can enjoy "sadder" stuff like Albinoni's 'Adagio'. My tastes are pretty much the same when it comes to Metal.

Alternative music has been rendered popular by MTV and trendy radio stations, and there's some sort of war between those who like it (either genuinely, or just to follow a fashion) and the "true" metallers. I cannot understand why it should be, as everyone is entitled to listen to the music he/she likes – although if it's only a matter of following a trend, I find it quite despicable. The term of Alternica may not have been adequately chosen but at least it spurred some reaction, which is in my opinion a good thing as an open-minded exchange of views is always positive.

In summary, yet again tastes can clash as long as the opinions of each parties are heard and respected. My collaboration with Baeleron is a prime example that two people can have different views and still be friends.

Maverick
11th December 2000

 

Michael:

To be perfectly honest, I believe that the whole Napster incident clearly shows that they don't care about their music as much as during the Cliff years. They may pay lip service to the fans, but it's only to placate those who still buy their albums. They haven't even released very much original material in several years, choosing instead to milk their past success for all it's worth with two double albums of covers and remakes.

I think they fully deserve the label of "Alternica". The Napster scandal shows just how much they give a crap about the fans. They are in this for the money. It seems perfectly plausible and logical that they would have altered their appearance, attitude and, yes, even their music to sell more records. Saying that the mainstream came to them might hold some weight if they didn't bitch and whine because some kid has an mp3 of 'Fight Fire With Fire'.

I completely believe that they never started on this road intending to be the money-grabbing, trend-following punks they've evolved into. You don't tour as much as they did for as little money as they made unless you're doing it for the fans and for the music.

I will give them some credit, though. Load is a 'good' album. Reload is ok, too. Neither of them are great, though. Garage Inc was a fast way to make a buck by recording a bunch of songs that they didn't have to bother writing themselves. S&M was a nice idea, but I'd still rather have some original music. They have acquired what I like to call the "Madonna Syndrome". It doesn't matter how much their next album sucks, people will buy it because it's Metallica. And that's all that matters to them.

Michael
19th December 2000

 

Alexdnm:

I had just discovered Metallica thanks to Napster, and I was on the way to becoming a convinced fan of theirs and to buy the Black Album when I found myself banned from Napster!

While I understand that an artist wishes to protect his work, I was very shocked and disappointed by this attitude, and I thought a lot about all this while trying to understand this band better like I had done before with Iron Maiden.

First with the music, I tried to listen to Metallica's earlier as well as more recent stuff, and I really liked the old songs whereas I didn't like the new ones at all. I am not saying that the former are good whereas the latter aren't, as I have no musical competence to judge this aspect of things, but my ears are very sélective and I don't "hear" the albums released after the Black Album. I can therefore say that I like the music of the old Metallica and not that of the new one.

I took some interest in the band and I found in my attic some old Metal magazines with vintage interviews dating from 8 and 13 years ago. I was quite surprised when I read them. Judge for yourselves:

"There are a few things we reject completely. The video-clip-MTV-maxisingles system isn't for us. This is why no one has ever seen a Metallica video."
–Lars Ulrich 1987

release of the Cliff'em All video in 1988, then 'One' then...

"This paranoia about bootlegs is overrated. So crap that we decided to go against it and allow the fans to record our gigs with camcorders or walkmans. This parallel market has never harmed the profits of the major bands..."
–Lars Ulrich 1992

Napster scandal in May 2000. Is there a real difference between Napster and the bootlegs? I don't think so.

Of course, every human being is full of contradictions, everyone evolves with the years, and as the saying goes only fools never change their minds. Unfortunately, I feel that the system has caught up with Metallica and that, as good Americans, they worship nowadays the dollar-god...

Moreover, their attitude in the Napster story makes me think that they are at the end of their tether, and that they know it. If they had been able to release more good albums like Maiden did with Brave New World, they wouldn't have adopted such a defensive attitude. The proof is that their latest releases contain for the most part covers versions (although I think that S&M is great, it is nothing really new.)

I discovered with great pleasure Steve Harris' comments on the subject, and they contradict totally Metallica's way of thinking. It is obvious that Steve could have also changed with the years as he had financially as much to lose as Metallica. However, he remained faithful to his principles and most of all didn't lose his wonderful creativity.

Now I can say that I like the old Metallica and that I always enjoy listening to their ealier albums. However, I'll never become a fan of theirs, whereas the more I know Iron Maiden – and mostly Steve – the more I appreciate and admire them.

Alexdnm
14th January 2001

 

Brutt:

I would very much like to add my commentary to the Alternica rant. None of the preceding responses actually express how I feel, and I believe, how many other Heavy Metal fans feel. It would be a fairly long story if I were to explain why I love this music style, but to cut a long story short I would say that what attracts me to it is first the sound and the energy that comes out of it, along with the complexity of the song structures and the difficulty level of the tablatures. It is of course most legitimate to appreciate other music styles, but only Metal really does it for me.

When Metallica changed their music style (because they really did change it), the impact on me and on all my mates who share my passion or Heavy Metal was rather negative. I discovered Metallica in 1984 with the Ride the Lightning album, and it wasn't long before I got hold of Kill 'em All. I bought Master of Puppets as soon as it was released, and it became my favourite and maybe even the best album of all times as far as I 'm concerned. To me the members of Metallica were some sort of heroes who were uncompromisingly playing a complex and agressive music that was unique and going against the mainstream of the American music industry. After the release of the Black Album, that was much simpler on a musical point of view, more accessible and full of compromises in order to gain more new fans, my expectations were high for the following album. There was this rumour at the time that said that the album was going to be like those of the beginnings, i.e., more agressive. Then a friend if mine told me about a single, Until you sleep that was due to be released before the album. What? A single? Metallica releasing a single before the album? It could only have been some mainstream stuff! I therefore decided not to listen to this particular song, as I was still hoping to like the album and I didn't want to be influenced by this 'commercial song'. Then one day while my wife was flicking through the TV channels whereas I was doing some other stuff without paying much attention to the telly, she ended up on Musique Plus (Quebec's equivalent of MTV) and asked me: "Do you know this band? It rings a bell". I listened of a while then told her: "nope, it's probably another small alternative band, and it doesn't sound too good anyway". I kept on doing other things while listening a bit more closely to the sounds from the TV. After a while, I recognised the guitar sound and I stopped to have a look at the screen. It was the video of a bunch of transvestites playing music instruments. I then recognised Lars Ulrich, then the other members of the band. I shouted: "It's Metallica!!!", to which my wife answered: "That's right, they probably do that to point out the ridicule of the alternative bands". Well, not quite... it was the video of until you sleep. My heroes of my teens were playing the kind of music I hate. What a disappointment! It was a bit as if Ferrari had started the production of cheap low-range cars in order to get more customers. Some time later a friend of mine got me to listen to the whole Load album. That wasn't Metal anymore. It was a mix between Hard Rock and alternative music, not a single bit of the album was Heavy Metal. Of course some will enjoy it, let's stay open-minded, but Metallica's quality compositions have disappeared. Metallica gave up on their musical complexity and on the simplicity of their look. They have chosen to downgrade the quality of their song while giving more importance to their appearance. The way they looked before was not so important, it was completely secondary. A pair of jeans and a leather jacket, after all no-one was paying attention to that, and only music counted. Nowadays their look has taken over and seems to follow some marketing priorities. What could be the reason for such a change in a band? Greed for money seems to me the only explanation. Then came the Napster affair...

I hope people will understand how a metaller such as myself feels. It's like betrayal. It wouldn't have been so bad if Metallica had said : "we're fed up with playing Metal, we're gonna take a different musical direction, we won't play Heavy Metal anymore". Or they could have changed the band's name. Or they could have stated publicly that they had opted out of Heavy Metal. In all these cases, the older fans wouldn't have been so disappointed and they would have taken interest in other bands instead. The metallers have every right to be frustrated and to aim their anger at Metallica. The media associate Heavy Metal with the name Metallica, and the real metallers don't want to be associated to this image. This is NOT Heavy Metal.

Brutt
11th April 2001

 

Drifter:

Before I start I just wanna say that the people who post the rants on this awesome site are really cool, and it's good to read intelligent discussions about this stuff instead of a bunch of people saying how untalented Metallica is and how bad they are at their respective instruments just because they don't like the new music. Anyway...

Metallica is my favorite band period. I happen to like the new stuff, although it can't touch their old albums – Master of Puppets in my opinion is the greatest metal album ever, but if you don't like their newer sound, then that's your opinion, just don't listen to it and more power to you.

One of the things that really annoys me is that most Metallica bashers have this thing that Metallica has gone so commercial with Load and Reload, when in reality – the Black Album was much more mainstream-oriented than the Load twins. The only songs that became singles, videos, or whatever on Load and Reload were Until It Sleeps, King Nothing, Fuel, Unforgiven 2, and Better Than You – thats not a lot really that many.

I for one don't really like bluesy music for the most part – i don't listen to Load and Reload that often, and when I do, I skip over most of the tracks on Load. However, I doubt that Metallica made Load and Reload simply to make more money and get more mainstream fans because The Black Album sold MUCH more than Load and Reload (possibly combined) and if Metallica really sold out and just wanted to make money, we might have 3 or 4 black albums by now.

Another thing is that people complaining about there not being any new material. I agree it's frustrating and I would really like to hear some new stuff, but if the creativity to make a whole album just isn't there right now then they're not gonna pull a Limp Bizkit and throw together a garbage album in a month and a half just because they know people will buy it.

Another thing that really bugs me is when people criticize Metallica for something, and then go on to praise a band that is in a very similar if not the same position in one way or another. Case in point – the majority of Megadeth fans you talk to nowadays will tell you that Metallica has sold out, blah blah blah. However – Megadeth released Risk, which was a very commercial album, and when it wasn't successful, they went back and made another decently heavy album to make sure they would keep their old fans. And through this, nobody complains or calls them sell-outs. But Metallica releases the Black Album – which was very commercial, everybody loves it, but when they released Load and Reload which were nowhere near as mainstream oriented as the Black Album, everybody calls them sellouts – mostly because they cut their hair. I am 90% sure that if Metallica's next album thats due out next year was more towards the Black Album or And Justice For All sound, people would still call them sell outs, and say that they were just trying to get their old fans back.

Finally, about the whole Napster thing. I think Napster is great for getting live or rare songs, but not many people use it for that. Where I live, a new CD comes out and only a few people buy it, but within a week or two everyone has a burned copy of it. Nobody buys CD's when they can just make them for free, except for the few dedicated fans who want the actual packaging and CD sleeve and stuff. Anyway, I think the way Metallica sees it, it isn't hard at all to hear Metallica's music if you're just getting into them, even without Napster. They get played on the radio, and its not that hard to find somebody who owns at least one of their CD's who you can borrow from. So they figure that if pretty near all of their fans have their albums already, there is no need to have their songs out for free on the net, because then people who just like Metallica because their friends do at the moment or whatever will basically be stealing their CD's. It's not the same as bootlegging where it sounds horrible, you're getting the exact same quality as the CD. Since I Disappear came out, I have heard so many people stop saying Metallica sucks... for about a few days, until it's cool to hate them again. Those aren't real fans – those are the people Lars doesn't want to get ripped off by. He's said himself:

"If you stopped being a Metallica fan because we don't wanna give you our music for free, then fuck you! I don't want you as a fan."

The other thing that really gets me is people who used to be diehard Metallica fans, but now they do nothing but constantly talk about how bad of a guitarist Kirk is, or how much Lars sucks on the drums – just because you don't like their newer music doesn't mean they can't suddenly play their instruments as well – they've proved their skill with earlier albums like Kill 'Em All, where there wasn't as much musical depth, but they were very flashy and there was a lot of showing off. After Kill 'Em All, they got bored and made Ride the Lightning – which was slower, less flashy, but much more musically complex, much more gratifying – and you know what? They even took flak for that back in 1984, so the way I see it, its been the same story for them since Ride The Lightning, they are just doing what they want, because they would get bored making the same album twice to appease the fans, and people call them sellouts when, if they had just kept making Kill 'Em All's since 1981 they'd probably be a lot less hated by the general public and be just as rich, if not moreso.

"Doing things the way you see it, going by your own heart and soul, that is pure artistic integrity. Whether the hair is six or sixty inches long, the eyes have make-up or not, the riffs are in 'E' or 'F' sharp, the amps are Marshall or not, all those things don't matter if you are doing it for the right reason, which to me means doing it for yourself."
– Lars Ulrich – AFTER LOAD AND RELOAD

Drifter
27th May 2001

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