A bit of a debate broke out on my Facebook page over which of Metallica's first four albums is the best one.
My gut reaction to this question is always, "Master of Puppets", but is my gut reaction leading me astray? Is my knee-jerk "...Puppets" response a well thought out critical analysis, or the result of an emotional bond that I've formed with that album over the years.
(To be honest, my first exposure to Metallica was "And Justice for All..." I moved on to "Ride the Lightning" after that, and then finally to "Kill 'Em All". "...Puppets" was the last of the first four that I got into, so it's not like I'm attached to it due to it being my first.)
The best way I can see to figure out this debate once and for all is to do a track by track comparison of Metallica's First Four. The album with the highest amount of wins, uh...wins.
This song sets the tone for everything that's to follow. If you can't grab me on song one, I'm probably not going to stick around for side "B". (If you've never known anything but digital downloads, ignore everything I just typed.)
Kill 'Em All - "Hit the Lights"
It's Metallica singing about, you know, being Metallica. Goofy fun, but hardly the best tune in their catalog. Next.
Ride The Lightning - "Fight Fire With Fire"
Now we're talking. Cool acoustic intro and then they hit it, get it and don't let up until the big-azz explosion at the end! Given that this came out in the 80's with the specter of nuclear warfare looming overhead, the subject matter was as heavy as the music.
Master of Puppets - "Battery"
Another acoustic intro, this one quite a bit darker than the last song, and soon after, another blistering thrash attack! The lyrics aren't exactly fine prose, but what the hell do you expect from a song as brutal as this?
...And Justice for All - "Blackened"
While not as blisteringly fast as the album openers that came before it, "Blackened" is brutal in a completely different way. Crushingly heavy riffs, and setting us up for the proggy-ness that the rest of "...Justice" would bring. Not many songs can stay interesting for over 8 minutes, but "Blackened" does it quite well.
Scary FN Terry's Pick: "Blackened"
I know. I'm surprised I didn't pick "Battery" or "Fire" too, but when it came down to it, "Blackened" just struck me as a much better composition.
But, that's just my dumb-ass opinion. Share yours in the poll below and tune in later this week when we move on to track 2!
*In addition to not even bothering to listen to anything after "Justice" any more, "Scary" Terry Stevens is a radio host for Midwest Communications. You can Book Face with him here.