Kill 'Em All (1983, Megaforce - I have the standard Elektra version) - I currently have two copies of this CD: Firstly, the standard version from before they remastered everything like a year ago. Second, the 12-song version with "am I Evil" and "Blitzkrieg" that inexplicably went out of print sometime around 1990, but that one's all scratched to shit now, which necessitated getting the normal kind. I got that version from my brother along with a bootleg version of Garage Days Re-Revisited that I'll get to in a minute, plus a Tool CD with a crack in it (that I'll get to in a few months at this rate) for something like $25 total. But again, I'll get to that in a minute. The THIRD copy of this that I no longer own is what I want to talk about, and it represents my greatest Ebay triumph, just edging out finding The Law by Exhorder for ten bucks. So one day, I'm chilling in Hastings, being a frugal consumer, flipping through the used CD rack, and I find a weird-looking copy of this for $8 that I bought out of curiosity. The lettering on the cover was bigger, the back cover was white, and it turns out that it was the original Megaforce Records version, released before Metallica had a major label deal and in pretty small numbers, owing to how metalheads were broke as shit and CDs were still expensive back then. So I look it up on Ebay, and someone has a copy listed for $80, and it just never moves for months. Clearly, eighty was more than anyone was willing to pay, but pretty much just for shits and giggles, I threw it up for sale (I didn't need it; I already had two copies, plus a cassette) for the low, low price of 79.99. And it sold in minutes. And that's how I managed to parlay eight dollars into an autographed Brian Urlacher Upper Deck football card, plus about sixty-five dollars worth of groceries.
Ride the Lightning (1984, Elektra) -I've already mentioned this elsewhere on here, but for reasons I'll never be able to understand, there has never been a finer album released to play in the background during the of playing shitty old video games. Go to your local dollar establishment, grab one of those Atari 2600 Flashback consoles, and play Yar's Revenge while jamming out to "Trapped Under Ice," and it is the most pure experience you could ever have. Follow that up with watching a (preferably VHS) copy of Nightmare on Elm Street 3 to fully transcend humanity and become a living god.
Master of Puppets (1986, Elektra) - This is probably the closest thing to a Consensus Greatest Heavy Metal Album of All Time, so I'm not sure if there's anything I could say about it that hasn't already been said a million times before. So yeah, I dunno. They killed it; they embarrassed pretty much every other band ever, and they did it all while making a maroon color scheme work for them in an all-black world. Did they ever make a Master of Puppets shirt that was maroon, as opposed to just black or white or whatever? Because feelings about modern Metallica aside, I would totally rock that look today if it exists. More metal bands need to embrace the non-black t-shirt, and I need to find my blue Motörhead Overkill shirt.
...And Justice for All (1988, Elektra) - It is insane to remember how good Metallica was back in the day. Because if you really think about it, this is the first step of the band's decline. The production sucks balls, the songs are insanely long for no reason on an almost 21st-century Maiden level, and it's just incredibly less-good than Master of Puppets in every way. But the thing is, this is still fucking awesome. Most bands get together, get signed, put out a bunch of albums, and then break up twenty years later without ever even approaching anything as good as And Justice for All, and there was literally a period of roughly three years when this was the worst Metallica record. Also, I just remembered of the time I made the mistake of sitting through the entire Johnny Got His Gun version of the "One" video as a nine-year-old, and it traumatized the hell out of me, and I wonder if my sensibilities are too delicate for The Metal sometimes.
Metallica (1991, Elektra) - This came out when I was eleven and didn't give a drizzling dog dump about music, but even I couldn't help but notice this weird shift in Metalli-perception that had happened. Like my older brother and all his lil' heathen friends were pretty much "FUCK YEAH METALLICA" (at least in spirit; they weren't actually yelling cusses in public), and to the rest of the God-fearing world of Randy Travis fans, Metallica was nothing but kill-your-mama devil music trash for people on the drugs. Then, the Black Album (that's what they call this, I didn't know if you were aware of that, seriously, it's true) came out, and the Randy Travis Nation screamed "FUCK YEAH METALLICA" while the heathen OG's were just kind of like "well, this is okay, I guess." Anyway, this is Metallica fully starting the screaming slide into hell that's never actually ended, even if the grade of the slope has become somewhat gentle as of late. But yeah, as much as the internet nerd that lives inside us all wants me to scream that this is putrid garbage from the shitheap, this is still sometimes kind of okay, I guess. They still should've done us all a favor and broken up no later than maybe 1994, though.
Garage Days and More (1993 I think? bootleg - also, the actual disk calls this "Garage Days/Back to the Beginning") - Back in the day, there was no such thing as a casual Metallica fan. You couldn't just have a tape or two and cal it good; you had to have it all. The problem was that it wasn't all easy to find. Some stuff was out-of-print, and some stuff was a b-side of a single that your record store never had, because you lived in stupid Mississippi. And there was no internet, so you couldn't just have that shit within a couple clicks. If you found out there was some weird demo track or another damn Diamond Head cover, the knowledge physically hurt you deep inside, because that was Metallica you'd never get to hear without a lot of legwork and money spent. So then, my brother found this, and it completely changed the goddamn game. Because this was the only way anyone we knew could get a CD copy of The $5.98 EP (or $9.98 CD) Garage Days Re-Revisited, because that damn thing got discontinued right around the time everyone started to get easy access to CD players, and finally upgraded our old cassettes to modernized formats. Furthermore, it included another nine bonus tracks of all the b-sides to all the various and sundry Black Album singles, which were hard to find as anything other than a cassette for unknown reasons. The extended cut of Kill 'Em All was still tough to find, and "Breadfan" and "The Prince" were still mysteries only spoken of in legend, (my brother got one of them on the Japanese-import One EP, though) but this CD knocked out most of the rest.
Load (1996, Elektra) - Man, this CD was heartbreaking. Like yeah, we knew that they had cut their hair and hinted at kind of a grungy sound on the new one, but it was going to be fine, right? You don't need long hair to rock; Rob Halford taught us that. And even if Lars and Kirk were wearing mascara and generally on some real try-hard shit with nipple rings and snakeskin bell-bottom pants and shit, James and Jason still looked like regular dudes, right? And you know, the Black Album taught us that even if it was bad, Bad Metallica is still usually better than Good Everyone Else, right? Welp, this sucks, and it's bad music for terrible people; fuck this so hard. And really, I tried man, I really tried. During long sessions of me and my dude Bill playing Tecmo Super Bowl III, this Cd would never leave my little two-disk boombox, because maybe there was just something I was missing, and eventually, I'd see the goodness deep inside. But no, I can definitively say that this sucks, and everyone involved with its release should feel bad forever. The weird thing is that even I have to admit that "The Outlaw Torn" is really good, and the only song worthy of all the bullshit praise that got lavished upon this turd by people that were too scared to risk losing Elektra Records ad dollars by being honest.
Hero of the Day (Part Two) single (1996, Vertigo) - Yeah, this was still at a time when we were all super hopeful that Load was just a phase, and they'd get good again eventually, and we couldn't risk not having the complete collection once that happened, because none of us could see the future of internet downloads and Metallica sucking forever and ever. So I got this, and the title track sucks, the demo version sucks slightly less, and the two Motörhead covers ("Too Late Too Late" and "Stone Dead Forever") are pretty good, because Motörhead is hard for even Load-era Metallica to screw up. Anyway, I forgot to mention this earlier, but the line "'Scuse me while I tend to how I feel" from this song is probably the "pause the tape and see Ralph Wiggam's heart breaking" moment for pre-Crisis Metallica fans everywhere. Awful.
Bay Area Thrashers: The Early Days (1997, Outlaw Records/bootleg) - Now this Cd right here is A REAL PIECE OF WORK, you guys. So even in all their money-grubbingness, Metallica has never been a band that cared much about people making bootlegs of their non-album stuff. Live bootlegs, b-sides, weird demo tracks, all of it on bootleg Cd in an insane amount of different configurations, all sold in legitimate music stores with bar codes and everything, and no one cares, not even Lars. But this was the one bootleg CD that was so stupid and bad that they had to step in with the cease-and-desist action and get it pulled off the shelves. Allegedly - and there's a spoken intro attesting to this - this is a live show from the Mustaine/McGovney lineup of Metallica, possibly even the first live recordings in existence; essentially, an Insanely Important Thing. But it takes maybe thirty seconds of listening to reveal the truth: This is the No Life Till Leather demo, with bits and pieces of live banter from the Cliff 'Em All VHS tape mixed in to create a fake live bootleg. The thing is, everyone wanted a copy of No Life Till Leather, so there was no reason to put some ol' bullshit on it to gin up demand. So basically, this is the worst possible No Life bootleg, except that the legal issues/recall order might make this actually have actual monetary value. I'll investigate further at some point.
Reload (1997, Elektra) - This is a shitty album, and that probably goes without saying, but it's also weirdly interesting to me. Because when Load came out, they were really open with the fact that they had another Load's-worth of songs ready to go for another album ANY DAY NOW, but when Reload actually got released, they were like "FUCK YOU, THESE ARE ALL NEW SONGS WE *JUST* WROTE, AND THE TITLE IS A JOKE ON YOU LITTLE SHITS FOR SUGGESTING OTHERWISE." And of course, we all took that with a grain of salt, because Metallica were well into the process of proving themselves scoundrels, but now, I'm not so sure. Because there are a few tracks with that "grunge crossed with a big can of dog turds" sound that Load had, but man, a lot of this sounds like Motley damn Crue. Like if you took something like "Fuel" or "Attitude" and subbed out James Hetfield for Vince Neil, (or maybe Brett Michaels on the slow songs, now that I think about it) it wouldn't sound weird at all. Honestly, though, Metallica overthinking Motley Crue and trying to be a Good Time Rock 'n Roll Party Band is a lot better than doing a dumbed-down version of Alice in Chains, so this is probably the better (or least worst) of the two Loads, even with Outlaw Torn propping up the previous one. And honestly, this still sucks, but upon revisiting it, it sucks a lot less than the two "good" recent albums. Because even if they're being motivated by greed for the white man's gold, they still sound motivated here. Death Magnetic and Hardwired, etc. both sound like they were put together in a focus group, with Carl from the R&D department sending out a memo that track 5 needs a fast part or whatever. This is crap, but it's crap they might have produced honestly? I dunno, this made sense in my head.
The Memory Remains single (1997, Elektra) - Yeah, shit. Refer again to the "they'll be good again someday, and then I'll regret not buying this" aspect of the "Hero of the Day" single. The b-side is an alternate version of the remix of "For Whome the Bell Tolls" that's on the Spawn soundtrack that's not good for much outside of nostalgia for a simpler time when Image Comics ruled the world, and all superheroes had like 48 teeth, 72 abdominal muscles, fists larger than their heads, and no qualms about killing hella-dudes. God, Rob Liefeld sucks so bad when you're not ten years old.
The Unforgiven II single (1998, Elektra) -I was probably far enough into the process of getting sick of Metallica's shit by this point to know better than to spend the $3.50 on this, but I dunno. It has a live version of "The Thing That Should Not Be," which couldn't have possibly been bad, and I didn't have a copy of the Live Shit boxed set, and live Metallica was weirdly hard to come by otherwise, so why not? Well, it sucks, they play it all weird and sloppy, and James tries to croon a Puppets-era song like he's fuckin Chris Issak or something, all "Fearless Wretch! Iiinsanitaaaayyy!" and this sucks so bad and I hate it so much arrrgghh.
Garage Inc. 2CD (1998, Elektra) - Disk Two of this thing is pretty much the release we had all been screaming for them to do for years, wailing and gnashing our teeth for the want of a Cd copy of all their random cover songs in a format other than sketchy bootleg CD that for all we knew might break apart inside our Cd players and give us AIDS somehow. It's got Garage Days Re-Revisted, the original Garage Days Revisted from the Creeping Death EP, all the covers from b-sides for Justice and the Black Album, including "Breadfan" and "The Prince," which were full-on Holy Grail shit, plus all four Load-era Motörhead covers. It was like a gift from the dang gods, you guys. Sadly, there was also a Disk One included with this, and I accidentally typed that as "Dick One" just now and was sorely tempted to leave it that way. Seriously, how do you fuck up Discharge songs? It's just one riff repeating for about two minutes, with maybe three lines yelled over it, and that's it. You don't need weird, buzzy, super-processed guitar shit and overwrought rock star vocals ("...the less I belieeyeeeaaaaav-ah!") going on. I just wanted so bad to find James and Lars and lock them in a room with a big ol' speaker playing the Anthrax version of "Protest and Survive," and scream at them "DO YOU WANT TO DO A DISCHARGE COVER? BECAUSE THAT IS HOW YOU DO A DISCHARGE COVER!" I dunno, there is a lot to not like about the disk of new stuff on this, but for some reason, those are the ones that really bothered me. Also, screw it, the Bob Seger cover is super-good, you guys.