“Show those ruffians how it’s done” – André and Fred listen to Metallica

This is part of a series in which two or more members of the Audioxide team listen to an album for the first time. Any instances of interest or insight are purely coincidental.

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[“Hardwired”]

André
Riffs.

Fred
And things being hit hard and fast.

André
There will always be a space for that
I’ve heard this one, I think it was the promo single or something

Fred
It’s quite a punchy little number, I suppose.
Gets your attention.

André
It works in the same way Limerent Death did for me
The Dillinger opener

Fred
Yeah, similar vibe.
Metallica have this uncanny knack for sounding accessible, though.
You know how grating I find most hardcore metal music.

André
I think it’s mostly down to the production
It’s not too suffocating is it

Fred
It’s almost cuddly.
Cuddly metal.

André
And Hetfield’s vocals are kinda tame in contrast to other, more punishing metal vocalists
‘Cuddly metal’ is likely to upset Metallica fans as a tagline
Thus I approve

Fred
Haha, good.

[“Atlas, Rise!”]

Fred
I like this.

André
I dig it.
You know what you’re gonna get with them
Two tracks in, and it seems like a good Metallica fix

Fred
Definitely.
This sound would fit in on the very finest Tony Hawk game soundtrack.

André
Radical, man.

Fred
This is really well put together.
We’re over five minutes into the track and it doesn’t feel it at all.

André
You’re right, fucking hell.
I hadn’t noticed
Atlas, Rise! – good job
If I were to be ultra-critical, the sound is perhaps so clean
The riffs are kickass – but the production is pretty safe. Tame, even

[“Now That We’re Dead”]

Fred
Well, to that point, this groove has a lot more grit to it.
Though generally I agree.
But that’s more of a relief to me than it is to you.

André
Haha, different stokes.

Fred
Ironically, because they don’t do that horrible death growl thing I actually would like to hear a rawer sound.
This track with a bit more snarl would be a proper rocker.

André
I don’t think it helps that Lars Ulrich is drumming with his usual uninspiring finesse
It’s fine, and the snare fills are impressive, it’s just predictable

Fred
Ah, I like it. And how original can a band really sound after 35 years?

André
I guess that’s the ultimate question, isn’t it?
Don’t get me wrong – this is the best they’ve sounded for fucking ages

Fred
I get the impression this is like getting an old favourite dish.
I will say, the album length did catch my eye going into this.
Let’s see how indulgent I am in an hour.

André
Oh. It’s almost 90 minutes.
I’m calling it: we considerably enjoy disc one, and become irritated half way through disc two

Fred
It’s all right. When that happens we can just talk about Harry Kane for a bit.

André
*swoon*

[“Moth Into Flame”]

Fred
This track is also listenable and fun. Who’d have thought?
Long tracks so far, opener aside. Not that they feel it.

André
So far, every song has warranted its length
It’s not often we get to say that, as the time police

Fred
Give it… time.

[“Dream No More”]

Fred
This feels a tad milked.

André
Yeah. Slight change of pace here with Dream No More

Fred
There we go.
Ooh, I like this.

André
Excellent groove

Fred
That’s as far as my insights will go.

André
Sometimes that’s all that needs to be said.
Do we just have a soft spot for old-timers or something?
This year in particular. Bowie, Nick Cave, Swans, now Metallica
Radiohead, obviously

Fred
I think we have a soft spot for old-timers who walk the walk.
In the grand scheme of things, they usually don’t.
The old-timers who didn’t die have had a fine 2016, I think.

André
Well, one generation had to didn’t they

Fred
That’s true. The young blood have offered up a whole lot of tripe.
So hearing some geezers rocking out super tight is a welcome thing.

[“Halo on Fire”]

Fred
Eight minutes of power chords incoming.

André
We’ve come to the end of first disc already?
It’s flown by
Ooh, nice. This is reminiscent of One

Fred
They’re changing up their sound plenty, to be fair to them.
Where there is sameyness I think it has more to do with the production than with the music.
As you were saying earlier.

André
Definitely

Fred
Digging the smoother vocals here.

André
Yeah I was gonna say, his tone suits these subtle cuts down to the ground
I have to say, this first disc has been pretty damn good
I don’t have many complaints

Fred
Likewise.
This is closing things out brilliantly as well.

André
I’ll admit I’m concerned that we still have another 45 minutes, however.

Fred
Same.
If they stopped here I’d be dead chuffed.
One of the fastest forty minutes of the year.

André
Yeah absolutely

[“Confusion”]

Fred
Chords? More like DISchords!
Not feeling this as much.

André
No
It’s alright, it’s lacking though
Those riffs feel messy too

Fred
The whole thing seems a bit sloppy by their standards.
But they’ve set a very high bar up to this point, to be fair.

André
That’s what I’m telling myself, in order to restrain myself from skipping it.

Fred
Two minutes to go.

André
Ok, if the album doesn’t let up, and continues at the same pace, it’s gonna feel very tiresome.
But if this 2nd side ends up containing more melodic cuts like Halo on Fire, we’ll be on to a winner
Confusion was not the best start, though.

Fred
First track to feel its length.
Let’s see what subtlety ManUNkind has up its sleeve.

[“ManUNkind”]

André
This is a great riff

Fred
This is more like it.
*was
Ooh, *is

André
Yeah this is TUBULAR

Fred
Muse wish they sounded like this these days.

André
I dig it. There’s an edge to this
That main riff has a real unusual quality to it

Fred
I will say though, because it keeps happening, that a lot of these intros feel a bit indulgent.
They keep getting away with it because they lead into something great.

André
Natural after 50 odd minutes of it
This is one of the best tracks though

Fred
This is rocking.

André
We can safely put Confusion on the ‘unnecessary’ list

Fred
For sure.

André
That riff is so damn funky
What a highlight

Fred
Poor thing’s sandwiched between two of the best songs as well.
Yeah, terrific.

André
I am such a sucker for a great riff

Fred
There’s no beating it.
The guitar sounds top as well.
You’re so going to learn this.

André
My Ibanez may be in Metallica mode for a couple of weeks, yeah.

Fred
I’ll never get tired of metal track names.
Never.

[“Here Comes Revenge”]

Fred
Throttling stuff, this.
Not letting up at all.
And I’m happy about it.

André
I’m feeling slight fatigue, if only because it’s been almost an hour
Really good hooks on this one though
I tell you what
For better or worse (though mostly better), this is far more focused than lots of this years major album drops too.

Fred
It is.
But being unfocused is en vogue at the moment.

André
Did you see Kanye walked off stage after 3 songs last night?

Fred
Nope. Why?

André
He had a rant about Jay-Z, Beyonce, Clinton. Then walked off.
He needs help

Fred
Haha, this outro blitz is fucking great.
I’ll have to have a look.
Do you think we’re the only ones who can?

André
Maybe.
That or he needs his dose of Metallica

Fred
There’s a good one going round.
They’re three tracks away from one of the best releases of the year.

[“Am I Savage?”]

André
Another solid groove here.
Proper headbanger

Fred
Nearly all the songs are over five minutes, and they’re getting away with it.
We’re surely over an hour in at this point.

André
We are yeah
I wouldn’t say it hasn’t felt like an hour, because it has, but it’s been an hour well spent. So far, so good.

Fred
Agreed.
The opening disc flew by, though.
The length catches up with it on side two.

André
No band would completely get away with a 90 minute album I reckon

Fred
I think you’re right.
But fair play to these guys, they’re having a good old go at it.

[“Murder One”]

Fred
Really authoritative riff on this track.

André
We can establish this is one of the more accomplished releases of the year
But maybe some fine-tuning and editing would have made it something even better

Fred
Perhaps, but then there’s only one superfluous track.
There’s almost too much goodness for its own good.

André
Yeah haha, bizarrely
I think things have more room to make an impact when they are cut shorter
Either way, this certainly gets a thumbs up from me

Fred
Same. Glad we’ve listened to it.
This is a ‘show those ruffians how it’s done’ album if there ever was one.

André
Another solid tune, but I’m very almost done now

[“Spit Out the Bone”]

Fred
Well, good thing it’s the closer!

André
And it’s started fucking well

Fred
Christ, our top ten lists are going to be dominated by middle-aged men and dead people.

André
2016.

Fred
What a year.

André
This reminds me of how the whole album started. All those 70 odd minutes ago
It’s gone full circle

Fred
Yeah, I like that.
And it has been quite the epic.
We didn’t even need to talk about Harry Kane.

André
Luckily for you

Fred
We’d need a NSFW tag.
Going out with a bang aren’t they.
Breathless.

André
Yeah. Good for them. This is good shit
I’m impressed, and I didn’t expect to be

Fred
No. I thought you’d suggested it so we could be smarmy and all that.
Then I learnt it’s meant to be great.

André
I was almost hoping we’d get the opportunity
But yes, it’s turned out to be rather good
Well.
Fuck you, Metallica