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the beautiful destruction

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Metallica used to be a giant in the speed metal world. You couldn't walk the halls of my junior high school without catching a glimpse of at least a half dozen burnouts wearing faded Metallica concert tees or jean jackets emblazoned with Ride The Lightning or Master Of Puppets backpatches and pins.

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Pictured: Cover artwork from Ride The Lightning, a Metallica classic.

Before I knew who Metallica was or first heard their music, I wasn't all too impressed with what I thought I knew about heavy metal. However, my exposure to the genre had been minimal at best--seeing videos from the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Dokken and Cinderella on MTV's "Hard 30" (remember that pile of shit mid-afternoon video show). But the first time I heard Metallica (during 6th grade), which happened to be when I saw the video for "One," I felt oddly compelled to watch and listen.

Previously, I had never really listened to the "hard stuff" and it felt very taboo, as this was during the era when parent groups and specifically Christians were claiming that heavy metal was the devil's music. I already felt pretty badass about my musical preferences--Van Halen, Def Leppard, Guns N Roses. I remember delivering newspapers (Pittsburgh Press R.I.P.) and listening to my Walkman, rocking out to Pyromania and High N Dry by Def Leppard and Women and Children First and 1984 by Van Halen. I was hot shit, cruisin' down the street mid-afternoon, white jean jacket littered with rock 'n roll buttons and pins, mullet fluttering in the cool suburban breeze. I had it all under control, err, maybe.

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Pictured: ...And Justice For All was Metallica's swansong as speed metal pioneers.

I purchased my copy of ...And Justice For All from Tapeworld in Monroeville Mall. Yes indeed, there was once a store called Tapeworld, and it was fucking awesome. I subsequently purchased the majority of my metal catalog [throughout junior high and high school] at Tapeworld--from D.R.I. and The Accused to Slayer, Death Angel, and countless others. Buying a new tape became a weekly ritual for me. Another way that I built up my catalog of tapes was by sending away to BMG... you know, that 25 tapes for a penny deal they used to run. When the boxes of tapes arrived, it felt like Christmas morning. A selection of speed metal gems delivered to my doorstep: Metal Church, Nuclear Assault, Testament, Flotsam and Jetsam, Overkill--it was insane. I remember wrapping Christmas presents that year while listening to No Place For Disgrace by Flotsam and Jetsam.

Anyhow, Metallica was the band that got me hooked. I also think that, since I had just started playing guitar at that point, the technical guitar work really appealed to me. I remember how people would always say that metal was just noise. What a farce. Metal was loud, but it also boasted some of the best riffs and intricate solos ever recorded.

Driving into work this morning, I listened to ...And Justice For All The album is well-produced, but still very menacing. This is before producer Bob Rock became involved with the band and transformed them into a rock band (and before James Hetfield's voice became a caricature of itself). Each song is nostalgic, each guitar line. I remember listening for hours on end, mimicking Kirk Hammet's picking techniques and James Hetfield's tight and powerful rhythm lines.

As I sit here in my cubicle, surrounded by deafening silence, I rise my optical mouse (sorry, I don't have a lighter) to the sky as "Sanitarium" plays in the background [in my brain that is... no music allowed at work].


At 9:51 AM, Anonymous Dirtybigearedbucktooth said...

Funny thing, I was just in Eide's yesterday afternoon strolling down memory lane. I almost bought the remastered version of Ride the Lightning, but it somehow seemed blasphemous. I ended up just buying some supersweet stickers for the wife's car.

To this day, 2 of the best 5 concerts I have ever seen are Metallica shows. Let's not mention that James Taylor and Simon and Garfunkel help fill the top slots.

Er um...ROCK and ROLL 4-EVER, dude.

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