Metallica – Armageddon (2012)

Posted: March 31, 2012 in Music

The last time we heard from California natives Metallica was last October when the band – almost inexplicably – teamed up with the legendary Lou Reed for the project titled Lulu. Critics had a hard time swallowing the combination of the two, and after some early hype, the album disappeared into obscurity as quickly as it had arrived.

Diehard Metallica fans screamed foul, so it’s small wonder that the band hustled their collective asses back in to the studio to get to work on their latest effort, Armageddon. Many years ago, the band attempted the experimental St. Anger, which brought out the lynch mob in record proportions, and Lulu seemed to reignite the hate from long time fans. The bands most recent release, Death Magnetic, seemed to calm the storm for a while – and was actually a solid metal record – but after Lulu, it was mandatory that the next album be what the fans wanted. Metallica is a loud, fast band that plays metal better than anyone – and the fans aren’t going to settle for anything less.

Which makes Armageddon perhaps the most curious of any Metallica release to date. Where Magnetic erased St. Anger, the new record is only bound to confuse fans even more after the ill-fated Lulu. It’s not that it’s a bad record by any means – the band is as cohesive and heavy as ever. The inclusion of guest performers on every track, however, is bound to have a head-scratching effect on most lifelong fans.

Korn jumped ship from heavy metal on their latest effort by joining forces with dubstep DJ Skrillex, and James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo seem to be following suit on the album opener, Not On My Time. Here, the band thrashes harder than they have in years, but overdubbed the track with electronic beats courtesy of legendary British club DJs The Pet Shop Boys. Surprisingly, the track is filled with moshpit energy, and the synthesized back beats only add to the chaos. On paper, I would have called this a disaster, but it might end up being Metallica’s most revered song since “Master of Puppets.”

“Red-Headed Bitch” slows things down substantially after the ferocious opener, and features the one and only Barbara Streisand in a duet of sorts with Hetfield through this melancholy love song. “She may be old and she may be rich, but there’s something about that red-headed bitch” is only one of the many poignant lyrics professed in this show tune pushed through a meat grinder. Ozzy had Lita, Sonny had Cher, and now – apparently – James has Babs…

Call it the need to wind down, or the endless pursuit of the eternal summer, but even Metallica needs to relax every know and then. That’s the only way to explain “Buried My Babe in Bermuda,” a collaboration with one-hit wonder Eddy Grant (of “Electric Avenue” fame). If Bob Marley and Anthrax had a baby, this would be the demon child. The track is the perfect balance of speed metal and steel drums, and is sure to become a fan favorite at the live shows with the ragga chant of “Nothin’ Rude-ah than Bermuda.” Another great track.

Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger is featured on “Sold My Soul For A Shot,” which finds Hetfield and company experimenting in the tamer side of rock. While not truly metal, it does carry that arena charm of sing along vocals and sexual innuendos that is all the rage on the modern rock scene. The last minute and a half of the track is a great solo from Hammett blazing over the grunts and moans that sounds like an arm-wrestling match between Hetfield and Kroeger – a match I’d bet James won…

Rock and country have been crossing over for years, so it’s not a stretch for Metallica to take the plunge in this sordid affair by pairing with country superstar Dolly Parton in “Gun On The Rack” (an obvious play on words to the country songstresses enormous breasts). We’ve known all along that Ulrich was a master of the drum kit, but you can now ad spoons and washboard to his repertoire, as the band throws gasoline on this hillbilly-meets-hellraiser jaunt. Another one that seems ridiculous, but plays to perfection.

For an album that has laid waste to almost every genre out there, it was obvious that hip-hop could not be ignored. Chart toppers Pitbull and Wiz Khalifa drop rhymes all over “Get Outta My Bag,” which has Hetfield contributing nothing more than hand-claps to a track that will be embraced by headbangers and gangbangers alike. Sure, the “puff-puff-give” lyric has been used more times than Madonna’s strap-on, but the wall of sound provided by Hammett, Castillo and guest guitarist Jack Black more than keep the track fresh and tight.

Call it getting older, growing more mature, or common sense – but something has shined a new light on faith for bassist Robert Trujillo. Many point to the near-death choking experience at Vancouver’s annual Rocky Mountain Oyster Eating Festival in 2008, which nearly cost the musician his life. On Trujillo’s request, the band invited the Harlem Boys Choir to share the studio with them on “Swallow Your Pride (Balls Down).” The gospel-influenced rocker was a bit too preachy for me at times with lyrics such as “God’s balls are too big for you to swallow”, but the music was pretty amazing, and the chorus from fifty little black kids only added to the groove.

So far, the album has been pretty spot on, but the moment every Metallica fan has waited forever for finally comes to reality in the albums 38 minute closer, “The Unforgiven, Part XII.” The epic tale, done in three movements, re-unites Metallica with three of it’s most integral players that have since left the band. In “Cliff’s Notes,” The band opens the trilogy with an instrumental piece that features long lost recordings of deceased bassist Cliff Burton. Unfortunately, the recordings aren’t of Cliff playing bass, but contain episodes of him talking on the phone to Chinese restaurants, yelling “No Whammies!” to what we assume was his television, and occasionally farting, burping, and what sounded like a dry heave or two. The fact that these tapes have been kept secret for so long is a true testament to how highly regarded Burton was to the band, and defines his legacy to perfection.

Part two features former member Jason Newsted (Voivoid) playing all instruments at once, showing not only his skill at all stations but his flexibility as well in “My Flotsam To Your Jetsam.” Hetfield carries the vocals well here, but pauses on occasion, in obvious awe to Newsted’s amazing talent. It’s apparent that time heals all wounds, as both Jason and James can be heard smashing guitars to pieces at the end of the track while Hetfield’s haunting vocals of “Kill me now…” echo out. I’m pretty sure they were both smashing guitars…

The coup de gras is the last part of the trilogy, in which former member and current Megadeth ringleader Dave Mustaine joins the band in the speed-friendly “Better Than Thou.” Although an unlikely reunion, everyone shines brightly through the track, but the back and forth chorus break between Mustaine and Hetfield revisiting the Annie Get Your Gun showtune “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better” is the icing on the cake. I never thought I would hear these forces on the same album, let alone the same song – and it makes Armageddon worth the price for this track alone.

The album as a whole is a shining example that Metallica can do just about anything they want whenever they want. They have the record sales and concert numbers to prove it, and as far as releases for 2012 go, this one is a must, and can be purchased online beginning April 1, 2012. Which we all know what that day is, right??

10/10

Tracklist:
01. Not On My Time
02. Red-Headed Bitch
03. Buried My Babe In Bermuda
04. Sold My Soul For A Shot
05. Gun On The Rack
06. Get Outta My Bag
07. Swallow Your Pride (Balls Down)
08. The Unforgiven, Part XII
i. Cliff’s Notes
ii. My Flotsam To Your Jetsam
iii. Better Than Thou

Buy record HERE!

Myspace: Link | Wiki: Link

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Comments
  1. harga laptop says:

    metallica ….. yeaaaaaaaaaaaahh …. i realy like this super mega power metal band … hail all!!

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