Dotted Music Monday: The 10 Metallica Songs To Hear Before You Die

FFollowing the infamous Twitter trending topic #MusicMonday and having an overwhelming desire to occasionally write here about music as music, not only business, we are happy to present you the first post in a Dotted Music Monday series. And we’ve got something special to kick off with… Metallica biographer Joel McIver exclusively gives us the lowdown on the essential Hetfield/Ulrich playlist!

Check out his top 10 below.

10. The last 3 minutes of “All Within My Hands” (St. Anger, 2003)

God, St Anguish is a shit album, but skip almost all the way to the end and you’ll hear an unexpectedly awesome outro on the last song, the otherwise dire and embarrassing “All Within My Hands.” It’s basically a three-chord doom riff with a thrash metal drum pattern, always a winning combination, and James’ vocals consist solely of the words “Kill, kill, kill!” What’s not to like? Apart from everything else on the record, of course.

09. “Fight Fire With Fire” (Ride The Lightning, 1984)

Kill ‘Em All was a fast album, but a year later Metallica upped the ante in spectacular fashion by writing this pulverisingly speedy song about nuclear warfare, gods crushing us like flies and so on and so forth. The acoustic intro caused some metalheads to worry that Hetfield et al had sold out for a minute, but once that fades and James’ brain-mincingly fearsome riff takes over, it’s fun fun fun all the way to the end – a fucking massive explosion.

08. “Dyer’s Eve” (…And Justice For All, 1988)

The first hint that all might not be tranquil inside Hetfield’s skull, “Dyer’s Eve” explored his Christian Scientist background in no uncertain terms, as well as providing a triumphant close to the album which kickstarted progressive thrash. Yes, the production sounded obsolete within weeks of AJFA‘s release and poor old Jason Newsted was mixed out almost completely, but what killer songs, eh?

Photo credit: egvvnd on Flickr

07. “Breadfan” (Garage Inc., 1998)

Yes, it’s a cover. Yes, it’s not properly produced. Shut up. This frankly gobsmacking upgrade of a hoary old NWOBHM tune was so far ahead of any other metal cover version you can think of at the time of its release (as a B-side on an AJFA-era single) that it would have been tragic if it wasn’t so funny. It’s so fast. It’s so heavy. It’s so good. Etc. Etc.

06. “Trapped Under Ice” (Ride The Lightning, 1984)

“No release from my cryonic fate” has to be one of the most metal lines ever written, and the fact that it comes as part of this aneurysm-inducingly nippy song from the band’s early days is another massive bonus. Rarely played in concert but often cited as one of the finest Metallica songs of all, “Trapped Under Ice” is still almost impossible to beat.

05. “Sad But True” (Metallica, 1991)

The Black Album‘s opening one-two (“Enter Sandman” and this song) is hard to beat if you’re a fan of MTV-era Metallica, but “Sad” surpasses “Sandman” for me because a) it’s so satisfyingly heavy and b) I haven’t heard it on the radio eight million times. You can see James recording the rhythm part (in straight D, as I recall) in the video clip. Watch and learn.

04. “Damage, Inc.” (Master Of Puppets, 1986)

Every song on Puppets is a stone cold classic, a claim that no other thrash metal album can match apart from Slayer’s Reign In Blood, but I’ll point to “Damage, Inc” because it’s so fast and mean. You have to admire the way that James’ lyrics don’t bother addressing politics, drugs, the environment etc: he just sings about wanting to fuck you up.

03. “Helpless” (Garage Days Re-Revisited EP, 1987)

Yes it’s another cover. Stop whining! If any proof were needed of Hetfield’s insane right-hand precision, listen to the tremolo picking in the chorus of this song. I’d also list Jason’s super-fat bass tone and Kirk’s awe-inspiring solo as reasons to listen to this tune, especially considering that the entire EP was recorded in a garage smelling of cat piss.

02. “Motorbreath” (Kill ‘Em All, 1983)

The lyrics are puerile but I think we’ve established by now that this is the entire point, right? Anyway, there is no clearer statement of intent (OK, maybe “Whiplash” qualifies too) in the Metallica catalogue. “Motorbreath” is fast, dumb and violent – and although I’m glad that the band grew up and wised up as the years passed, songs from this era are still indispensable.

01. “Disposable Heroes” (Master Of Puppets, 1986)

My favourite Metallica song of all time. Why? It’s probably a combination of that E/G/F# chord progression which the band used so much back then, plus the song’s insane speed, plus Hetfield’s fabulously aggressive lyrics about getting killed in a war. And it goes on for ages too. Listen to this (or even better, watch them play it live) and you’ll be left reeling. Songs like this kinda put “Mama Said” and “The Memory Remains” into perspective, don’t they?

Joel McIver’s 2004 bestseller “Justice For All: The Truth About Metallica” has just been updated and reprinted. See for details.

Have a sneak peek at The 10 Metallica Songs You Must Hear Before You Die (turn off plugins disabling ads to see the widget):

<A HREF=”” mce_HREF=””> Widgets</A>Anything you can add? Tell us in the comments!