It all started with that Facebook post.
Which of Metallica's First Four Albums is the best one?
In an age of digital downloads, and 99 cent songs, I felt that the fairest way to figure that out was to make each album face off against its peers one track at a time.
Now that we've reached the end, I have discovered a flaw in my cunning plan.
Metallica's First Four do not have the same number of tracks. I know. I'm as shocked as you are that I didn't think something through...
However, this isn't necessarily a fatal flaw. Perhaps the strength of Metallica's shorter albums is that they check out at the right time. Perhaps those extra songs are Metalli-filler.
So with that being said, let's move on to the final round of our Track-By-Track Battle with...
The Last Tracks
Kill 'Em All - "No Remorse", "Seek and Destroy", & "Metal Militia"
Kill 'Em All gives us a trio of headbangers, two of which are over 6 minutes long.
"No Remorse" probably could have dropped a few minutes and been a much tighter song as a result.
"Seek and Destroy", while longer than "No Remorse", benefits from a stronger hook and a fun sing-a-long chorus.
"Metal Militia" is another Mega-Dave Mustaine number.
"Kill 'Em All" has quantity AND quality in its final songs. Let's see how it holds up when compared to the competition.
Ride the Lightning - "The Call of Ktulu"
I used to to live quite a bit closer to the radio station than I do now, so I would walk to work. I remember one winter's evening, it was dark, cold, and cloudy. It wasn't a winter wonderland. It was a winter wasteland. We're talking Hoth here. My walk was about 10 minutes and "The Call of Ktulu" was the perfect soundtrack.
Eerie, epic, with another Mega-Dave Mustaine writing credit. While we must deduct spelling points for getting "Cthulu" wrong, the rest of this instrumental is a masterpiece. Make sure you check out the version they did on the S&M album too .
Master of Puppets - "Damage Inc."
Your neck. It's wrecked.
"Damage Inc." does not eff around. Fast, violent, circle-pit whirling, a killer bridge. It's the blueprint for bad ass thrash metal.
The most impressive thing about this song for me, is that while being 5 and a half minutes long, it feels a lot shorter. That's how much quality it maintains.
...And Justice for All - "To Live is to Die" & "Dyers Eve"
"To Live is to Die" features the late Cliff Burton's final contributions to the Metallica catalog. The bassline (what little you can hear of it in the Justice's mix) was cobbled together out of parts that Burton had left behind in recordings. However, the original recordings weren't used in the mix. That's Jason Newsted playing Burton's riffs.
The lyrics also featured contributions from Burton.
Given the Frankenstein's Monster approach to composing this song, "To Live is to Die" comes together amazingly well. An epic, mostly instrumental work that holds up to repeated listens.
Then, there's "Dyers Eve". Where "To Live is to Die" is sprawling and epic, "Dyers Eve" is short, brutal, to the point, and cathartic as hell to anyone who had a "difficult" relationship with their parents.
This is the last time we heard a Metallica song this intense until they tried to "recapture the spark" with "St. Anger" and "Death Magnetic".
Scary FN Terry's Pick - "To Live is to Die" & "Dyer's Eve"
I honestly thought I was going to go with "Damage Inc." here, but after listening to the Justice cuts again, they're just sooooooo strong, especially "Dyers Eve".
While I feel that "Call of Ktulu" is a better instrumental than "To Live is to Die", I'd rather listen to "Dyers Eve" than either song. Even if I just took "Dyers Eve" and put it up against any of the "Kill 'Em All" tracks or "Damage Inc.", "Dyers Eve" still holds up.
'Course, that's just me talking.
What do you think? Do you feel like "Kill 'Em All" should have received free points just by being a longer album? Do you think Ktulu should have risen from the depths to eat all of the other songs?
Should we do this sort of thing for other bands' classic albums? (Yes, especially Pantera & Megadeth.)
Post your pick in the poll below.
We'll post a wrap up to this tomorrow! Thanks for your participation!
*In addition to forgetting just HOW FREAKING GOOD "To Live is to Die" was until he listened to it again for this blog, "Scary" Terry Stevens is a radio host for Midwest Communications. You can Book Face with him here.