PHOTO CREDIT: Marcelino Portfolio, Creative Commons License.
Welcome to part 5 of our track-by-track battle between Metallica's First Four Albums (a.k.a. "The Good Ones").
Now that you're all caught up, let's move on to...
Once again, these middle of the album cuts present us with very tough choices, starting with...
Kill 'Em All - "(Anesthesia) - Pulling Teeth"
"Bass solo, Take 1."
And with those four words, Cliff Burton proceeded to show all metal bass players that you could do more with your instrument than simply keep time.
Classical riffage in the first half, followed by a thrashing second half featuring a backing beat from Lars Ulrich, "Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth) does more with two instruments than some metal acts can do with a full band and orchestral backing (ex. all of the Load-era material on S&M).
Ride the Lightning - "Trapped Under Ice"
"Trapped..." is pure thrash metal. Grim lyrics, furious double-picking, a couple of killer sing-along sections. No proggy stuff here. Just thrash.
Maybe it's because this blog is being written in the middle of Wisconsin on a late fall day that feels like winter, but I will say it anyway, this Metallica classic is very under appreciated.
Master of Puppets - "Disposable Heroes"
"Back to the front!"
Side B (you see kids, back in the day...records, cassettes, etc.) of "Master of Puppets" starts with an uncompromising 8+ minute thrash-metal indictment of the war machine. Featuring stanzas like...
"Back to the front
You will do what I say, when I say
Back to the front
You will die when I say, you must die
Back to the front
"Soldier boy, made of clay
Now an empty shell
Twenty one, only son
But he served us well
Bred to kill, not to care
Just do as we say
Finished here, Greeting Death
He's yours to take away"
This isn't the jingoistic rah-rah that you get from some Wal-Mart rock and metal (and country) bands. Metallica is straight up saying, "War is bad. You want to support the troops? Stop sending them off to die."
Given our country's recent overseas conflicts, "Disposable Heroes" is just as vital today as it ever was.
...And Justice for All - "The Shortest Straw"
"Shortest Straw" continues the socially conscious lyrical themes and proggy composition (though with a bit more straightforward thrash) of "...Justice...".
Maybe it's because it's sandwiched between two superior songs ("One" and "Harvester..."), but "Shortest Straw" always seemed like a track I'd fast-forward through to get to the next one. Good song, but just not one I'd jam all the time.
Scary FN Terry's Pick: "(Anesthesia) - Pulling Teeth"
It came down to this or "Disposable Heroes" for me. As much as I love "Disposable Heroes", I'll never forget the first time I heard "(Anesthesia)-Pulling Teeth" and thought, "Damn! He's doing THAT on a BASS?"
Cliff Burton (R.I.P.) for the win.
Of course, that's just my dumb take. Make your pick for the best Metalli-Track 5 below:
Tune in tomorrow when the Track 6s face off!
*In addition to completely sucking at playing bass, "Scary" Terry Stevens is a radio host for Midwest Communications. You can Book Face with him here.