So... this is a genuine question:
Why are Metallica the biggest metal band in the world right now?
One of the reasons might be that Metallica's songs are simpler than Maiden's, and thus easier to digest. To me it took a long time to get into Maiden properly, and I've heard from many others that it still takes several listens before one can "comprehend" a new Maiden song. And a lot of people don't have that patience, so if they're at all into metal, they will choose Metallica. (I'm not saying Metallica songs are bad, just that they aren't as complex.) Metallica made themselves quite well-known with the Black Album, have been able to keep themselves known, and the phenomenon has been feeding itself so new listeners add up all the time. Also, I guess they have just been lucky. :bigsmile:

By the way, I spent the beginning of the 90s devoutly listening to Metallica, too. :)


The Living Flame
James Hetfield is an excellent vocalist. He has a ton of character in his voice.
Yeah, this. 1991-vintage Hetfield is pretty much the pinnacle of “angry dude” metal vocals. I honestly don’t see how anyone could sound better than he did at that point for what he was trying to do. Controlled, on key, but pissed and full of character.

Pre-black-album Hetfield was always a little off key, but you heard elements of what was coming. I think he sounded pretty good from “Ride The Lightning” forward, if you could tolerate the missed notes. Post-black-album Hetfield always sounded slightly thin to my ears, but still pretty good.

As for the music, early Metallica has this stately, deeply harmonized feel that no other band has ever fully captured, combined with absolutely crushing thrash riffs and interesting, but not quite progressive song structures. The songs also show some finesse, moving between thoughtful softer sections and the heavy stuff. There’s plenty to love there for people who just want aggression, and for people who want some musical meat. This is what made them famous in the first place.

Black album through Reload was the pop era of the band where they really exploded in popularity. This was dumbed down, slower, and more simplistic, but also more digestible for standard ears. For the frat boys this was dangerous and exciting stuff. For the average joe this was metal they could tap their foot to. And Hetfield sounded great.

Chances are, you either really liked Metallica’s early phase, or you really liked their pop phase, or you liked both. I think this is what carried them through the absolute disaster of St. Anger, where people were willing to give them a mulligan.

Death Magnetic was clearly an attempt to recapture the sound of AJFA. The band returned to their classic logo, the production was dry, and the songs were overly long and packed with riffs and change-ups. Whether this worked for you or not depended on whether the whole thing felt natural or forced to you. For me it felt a little forced, but it was still miles better than pop Metallica.

HTSD leaned back toward the black album more, but kept a lot of the little musical complexities that made Metallica interesting in the first place. For me, this felt like a more honest expression of where they are and what they want to do musically, so it worked better for me than DM did.

And I guess that’s really the answer — Metallica had two distinct periods that were both very popular for different reasons, and their two most recent albums served as callbacks to both of those periods, so I guess all is forgiven. And they apparently still sound really good live, which helps.


A Blue Sector Mirage
I think James sounded reverbed to hell and back on Ride The Lightning, but not bad. On Puppets, he sounds pretty good all around. Black Album definitely has his best vocals, though.

Oh, and some people like James' voice in the Load/Reload era...I don't. Take one example, he sounds like he's trying desperately to not vomit when he sings "But the memory ruhhhmayyins!" in...well, The Memory Remains.

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
Oh, and some people like James' voice in the Load/Reload era...I don't. Take one example, he sounds like he's trying desperately to not vomit when he sings "But the memory ruhhhmayyins!" in...well, The Memory Remains.
Yeah that line is terrible, but most of Reload is pretty bland. He sounds pretty great on Load, however, even with his off moments (“It ain’t my biiiiCHA!” for instance).

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
For me what I like about Metallica is that the highs are with more than the lows. Every album has at least one good song that makes it worthwhile to come back to (not including StA and DM), and there’s a lot of cool vibes I haven’t heard on any other albums that they’ve managed to capture on their records. I’ve really enjoyed this discography listen and I’m rather sad that it’s coming to an end today.


Let's Get Volatile
A friend of mine once said that James "can't sing but his voice suits the music". I think the first part is completely wrong, James might not have the range or power of guys like Bruce and Dio but he certainly can sing. The second part I completely agree with, James' voice is perfect for the band. Nobody else could sing for Metallica and make it work like he does.


clap hands
Eh, LaBrie is a tougher case, I think. James LaBrie was/is technically a very good singer, he just hurt his voice beyond repair and over the years got lazy with technique (literally the opposite of someone like Bruce Dickinson who has gained better and better technique with age). This is all semantics, but JLB was a great singer who mostly works as the vocalist for DT.

James Hetfield is a great vocalist: his voice works very well for what it is meant to do. He's not a technically great singer or a gifted singer, but his vocals are perfect for Metallica's music. It's like Tom Waits or Dave Mustaine: great singers? Hell no. Great vocalists (i.e. using the vocals as an instrumental part of the whole band)? Yes.


Let's Get Volatile
I'm not a fan of Dream Theater so I'm the wrong guy to discuss this, but what I've heard from them makes me think that LaBrie isn't a very good fit. Stuff like "As I Am" or "A Nightmare to Remember" are heavy as balls but have this weak, weak singing over them that sounds totally out of place. Or were those after he hurt his voice?

Black Bart

Ancient Mariner
he just hurt his voice beyond repair
I am not a fan of LaBrie's but, to be fair with him, his bad patch (1995-2003 approx.) is mostly due to food intoxication that nearly cost him his vocal chords.

Speaking of JLB and potential Bruce replacements back in 1993, I am surprised that Whitfield Crane (UKJ, Life of Agony, Medication, stand-in for Ozzy Osbourne in the rehearsals for Sabbath 97 reunion) doesn't seem to have been considered.

"As I Am" or "A Nightmare to Remember" are heavy as balls but have this weak, weak singing over them that sounds totally out of place.
I think "Constant Motion" was a bit better in this regard.

I think James sounded reverbed to hell and back on Ride The Lightning, but not bad.
Come on, Hetfield couldn't be qualified as a "singer" until AJFA. He then took a bit more care of the technique.
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Chasing Ponce De Leon's Phantoms
As a DT fan I can say that LaBrie is a good singer. He’s hit and miss though. Of course he is going to sound good on all the albums, but live it’s a different story. For example when they did the Astonishing tour he was amazing night after night. Most recently the Images and Words 25th Anniversary tour was completely opposite. They tuned down the songs a full step and it was still bad. Save your ears and do not listen to a recent version of ‘Take The Time’.

Black Bart

Ancient Mariner
I think James sounded reverbed to hell and back on Ride The Lightning, but not bad.
Come on, Hetfield couldn't be qualified as a "singer" until AJFA. He then took a bit more care of the technique.
Save your ears and do not listen to a recent version of ‘Take The Time’
To be honest, who could ever sing this song as flawlessly as in the studio, night after night? It's great but tremendously difficult.

The Flash

Dennis Wilcock did 9/11
I would 100% agree with this statement.

DISCLAIMER: This is different than saying James Hetfield is an excellent singer.
Yep, the distinction is important.

James became a better singer over the years as well, though. Couldn't really sing in the 80s but he was above average in the 90s. IIRC, he got singing lessons before the Load/ReLoad/Garage Inc. era and it showed. Had his first moments where he actually sounded like a singer, albeit one with limited range.

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
Hardwired... To Self-Destruct (2016)

1. Hardwired - I had been a metal fan for over a year when this song was released. I remember all the adoration it received ("It sounds like classic Metallica! Holy shit!"), but every time it came on I remained nonplussed. Coming back to it now about two years later, I definitely didn't go in with any high expectations. I certainly didn't expect that I'd love it. But man, those drums kick in and it's just great from that point forward. Such a grandiose opening to this album. The drums are loud as fuck, but they're also great as fuck. The riffing here is thrashy as anything Metallica did in the '80s, and it's just a rip-roaring ride as a whole. The verse is simple but James fucking nails it. The chorus gets a lot flak for being childish ("We're so FUCKED!"), but man, it just works better than it deserves to. It takes no prisoners whatsoever and really sounds kinda fun at the end of the day. Kirk hasn't gotten better with age, but the solo hear works, short but sweet. The bridge just zips by with speed and aggression I didn't know they had at this point in their careers, and then it's back through the chorus and we're done. For such a short song, "Hardwired" works phenomenally. I like it more now than I ever thought I could. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that of all their short, three minute songs, this is the king. This is the best opener they've had since "Fuel". Fucking fantastic. 10/10

2. Atlas, Rise! - Another song I'd heard when it was released, and it also did nothing for me, just like the opener. But man, it's a completely different story now. It opens with a heavy as fuck riff, which works great because of the subject matter. It feels like a pillar of rock crushing down on you. The steady-paced riff here sounds like something straight off of Kill 'Em All, but damn is it good. James still sounds fantastic on the verse, but he really takes command of that pre-chorus, which is awesome. The chorus is another story completely. It takes some listens to get, but damn, it's fucking great. Maiden are definitely the biggest inspiration here, as it sounds quite reminiscent of "Hallowed Be Thy Name", but damn, it works so well. The lyrics on this song are pretty great too, talking about being crushed down by the world and taking control and breaking off the yoke (with a twist in that the narrator is now the one cursed to bear up the Earth, for reasons unspecified). James really controls that chorus and makes it work phenomenally well. After the second chorus we get a nice riffing section followed by another solo that works better than it probably should. This leads into a harmonized section that really sounds like something off a classic Maiden release, and I love it. Another "Hallowed" shout-back and we return through the verse and co. again. There's just so much greatness in this song, it's incredible. Heavy as anything Metallica have release and just plain fucking awesome throughout. Love this song; it's one of the more unique things they've released and it works entirely too well. 10/10

3. Now That We're Dead - A driving riff opens up this song leads it forward. Lars utilizes his double bass really well in this intro, and everything just seems to combine together perfectly. It takes a full minute before the intro's done but god, it's so great that it doesn't matter. Where was that feeling during Death Magnetic? Another thirty seconds of epicness and James comes in for the verse, and man, he is on fire on this album. The "may it be..." repetition works really, really well, but then we hit the pre-chorus and it takes things to another level entirely. The way the vocals are multi-tracked is just brilliant, and it flows into the actual chorus so fucking well, losing none of the momentum set. It's kind of a simple chorus, but it works, it really does. I like this whole take on death, dying, and romance. It's such an interesting song with execution that's far better than you'd expect. The solo here isn't quite as good as the two previous, but it doesn't hurt the song in any way. That's sorta my take on Kirk as a whole. He's not the star; when he's on-point, great, when he isn't, I don't really care. He's not what I listen to Metallica for anyway. The less-heavy, drum-driven bit after the solo is fantastic and builds right back into the pre-chorus and chorus extremely well. The final piece at the end is great too. Third song in a row that's just too. damn. good. Metallica haven't been this on-point since Master Of Puppets. Holy cow, this song is awesome. 10/10

4. Moth Into Flame - A really cool harmonized guitar bit opens up track four, and the drums are still heavy as FUCK. A cool driving riff moves us forward into a really great verse. It shouldn't need repeating, but goddamn James sounds fucking awesome. It's just a smack-down through every word. The band speeds up for the pre-chorus which ends with a solo-y piece that I've never heard from anything this band has released. But man, the vocals in the chorus are fucking awesome. "Sold your soul... built a higher wall..." It's just performed so perfectly it's great. It because more standard with the second half, but it's still just so good. "........a moth into the flame!" Don't tell me you don't sing along, because you do. It's physically impossible to just "listen" to this song. The bridge is strong as well, and the solo section is noodly and wah-filled, but again, it works way better than it should. There's some great build-up before we return to the verse. That lift-off into the final chorus is fantastic. The outro nearly explodes, there's so much power, so much energy, so much bite on display and in full-force. This song is great. Like, the first three were great, but this one is still. great. It's catchy, it's powerful, it's absolutely wicked. Fantastic song, yet again. 10/10

5. Dream No More - Fuck, this opening is heavy. The way the intro rolls into the riff is quite similar to "Sad But True", but it works quite well despite the comparison. Actually, it also feels like a sequel to "The Thing That Should Not Be", which is appropriate because, well, it's about Cthulhu. Haven't done that in a while, but man, they slip right back into action with this song. It feels more natural than could've been expected. I love the vocals in the verse, they're sung differently than typical James Hetfield, but of course the multi-dubbing helps with that a lot. The pre-chorus works as intended. The chorus is really similar to the way "Thing's" worked. It's also really, really heavy, so that's a plus. The "Cthulhu, awaken!" shout should feel cheesy but it doesn't. Coming to a complete stop before the solo is kind of a genius move on Metallica's part. There's some really nice build-up before the final chorus, which goes into a really cool piece that could've worked as the chorus throughout the entire song if they'd chosen, but since they just have it at the end, it honestly feels a little more special than it probably would've otherwise. Several calls for the Great Old One to awaken and we exit with the knowledge that Metallica can pull off the subject matters they used to love talking about back in the day just as well in the 21st century. I don't think this is quite as good as the first four songs, but it's a crushing, pile-driving number that doesn't let down any. 9/10

6. Halo On Fire - The longest song on the album opens with another crushing riff piece that has some cool melodic pieces as well. It builds into a quiet guitar piece that works its way into the verse. Not James's most outstanding moment on the album, but it sounds really cool nonetheless. The chorus is better, as the heaviness rolls back in quite well. I love James's vocals in that final "halo on fiiiiiiyeeer!" It doesn't sound like anything he's ever done before and I like it. If the rest of the song was of the same level as the verse and chorus, I'd probably just give this song an 8 and call it a day. It's pretty cool but it isn't as good as the other songs here. But no... it doesn't stop there. The bridge comes in and it's honestly plain and simply awesome. James sounds so good and it's what I wanted from a song called "Halo On Fire". There's some cool riffing and we go into a harmonized guitar piece that leads into the solo, which is pretty solid, but it's overshadowed by the fantastic guitar piece that follows it, which quiets done into some awesome quiet bits before rebounding into a punchy piece that wouldn't sound amiss on an '80s pop/rock song (if it wasn't played with such heaviness, obviously). James's "hello darkness, say goodbye" here works really, really well. The song builds and builds and builds and it really sounds fantastic in the final minute, leading up to a perfectly satisfying conclusion. I think they were trying to recapture some of "Fade To Black" with this track, but honestly, I think it works better than that song did. It starts out solidly but just grows and grows and grows until you're completely hooked. Some fantastic moments all the way throughout. I wouldn't call it quite perfect, but man, it's really good. 9/10

7. Confusion - Disc Two opens with a crash. The intro here is definitely inspired by "Am I Evil?", but I think it works well here too, feeling like something out of a war zone. It moves into a solid riff with some nice change-ups throughout. The verse here is really good, actually, which surprised me because I had no big hopes for this song going in. James sounds good, and the lyrics tackling PTSD are quite interesting. The chorus isn't quite so good, it's pretty solid but not the most outstanding thing Metallica have done. There's some cool chugging riffage here that I like, and the bridge is pretty solid too. The wah solo here is actually pretty great and fits the song quite well. The final chorus here is better than the previous ones IMO. There's a bit more to it this time. We exit with the "Am I Evil?" piece. I do like this song, I think it's pretty solid throughout, but I don't quite love it and I think that it doesn't quite hold up to the entirety of the first disc. But it's still a pretty good song. 8/10

8. ManUNkind - A quiet bass / guitar intro opens up this song, and it's pretty cool. It's deep and quite brooding. Then the drums come in and holy crap that riff is some heavy shit. There's a lot of groovy stuff going on here that I really like. The verse here is short but sweet. The chorus is slow but steady and works a lot better than it probably should. The title and line - "ManUNkind" - seems stupid at first, but the more I listen to this song, the more I kinda get it. Certainly the music video helped with that. This song isn't actually about Mayhem, but when seen from that angle, it seems to clear things up. The band members - particularly Dead - had a corrupted worldview and seemed to look on people as "man(un)kind", so I like that aspect. Even when taken at face value - a song about falling from paradise and creating a world of ruin - it's pretty cool. I do like how this song seems to morph into another song completely after the second chorus. The climb there works really well, but damn, that bridge is melodic as fuck and almost beautiful. Best part of the whole song. The solo works pretty well too, and then it's the bridge again before we return to the base song, which still hasn't lost anything. This song did nothing for me at first, but the more I listen to it, the more I really, really like it. If it keeps growing like this I can see it becoming a favorite of mine in future. Right now, I think it deserves near top marks for sure. Probably the most overlooked song on the entire album. 9/10

9. Here Comes Revenge - A heavy opening with some cool rising guitar bits kick this song off quite well. The atmosphere is tense, and I really like how it moves into the actual riff, which is pretty cool. The song calms down for the verse, in which James sounds more menacing and sinister than he's ever been. It honestly wouldn't sound amiss on The Black Album itself, it's got that sort of style, and it's quite nice. The chorus is pretty simple, but it's how it works that makes the difference. I love how James sings "here comes REVEEEEENGE!" It's pretty awesome. That final part ("You ask forgiveness, I give you sweet revenge!") is a little weak, but that can be overlooked when the rest is so good. The riff hear is like a freight train charging the line. Pretty awesome. The solo here is pretty great as well. That riffing that brings us back to the chorus is awesome. I just love how much power this song packs, it makes it far better than it would've been had they recorded it in an off-moment. The long outro is really cool too. This song isn't quite perfect, but man, it's just too good. Bite, energy, aggression - it has it all. It's another song that grows with every single listen. Really, really like this one. 9/10

10. Am I Savage? - A pretty cool, atmospheric intro opens up this song. Some bluesy guitar leads into a building heavy piece that I think is pretty cool. It grows into a steady riff that brings us to a solid verse that moves forward like an oozing monster, although it's not quite the biggest monster out there. The pre-chorus is kind of a cool change-up in the pacing here. The chorus itself is surprisingly solid. I didn't expect much from this song given the title (which sounds like some sort of "Am I Evil?" throwback), but the more I listen to it, the more it grows on mere. There's actually quite a nice bit of good moments here. I'd still argue it's one of the weakest songs on the album, but it fits in well enough for my taste. Metallica did enough with the werewolf theme on "Of Wolf And Man", but they don't actually create a failure here. I think the solo is kinda cool, there's a moment where it feels like something off of The Book Of Souls, actually. All in all, it's a solid, plodding track that ends up being something of a grower. Good, not necessarily great, but I think it's solid overall. 7/10

11. Murder One - So, the Lemmy tribute. It opens kinda well with a nice soft guitar piece, but then the drums come in and the heaviness erupts from there. It builds its way along into a groovy riff that's pretty decent actually. This first verse is pretty cool actually. One of the highlights of this song for me is hearing James say "aces high". The pre-chorus here isn't the best, and the chorus itself doesn't even feel like a chorus. We run through again and come to a decently melodic piece before Kirk noodles into the solo. This may actually be the one that works the least well on the entire album. It doesn't do much of anything for me. As a whole, I like this song less with each listen, but it doesn't hurt the album for me. It's just an average track on an otherwise fantastic album. Kinda like Metallica doing a King Of Metal, and should've just remained a novelty with the music video. I don't think it sucks, but it's definitely the weakest track here. 5/10

12. Spit Out The Bone - Metallica took some steps down with the previous two songs, but they really bring themselves back up with the opening here. The drumming is INSANE. Are you sure Lars didn't turn into one of the machines this song deals with? He's fucking awesome on this track. I'd argue he's half the reason it's so good. It's such a heavy, thrashy number that it's hard to believe they had the energy to create. Like, most of this album with heavy as hell, but this is next level shit. That verse is insanely good. James sounds fantastic and mixes with the music really well. I love the lyrics too, dealing with machines replacing humans on the earth. The chorus is simple but damn is it effective. "Man overthrown - SPIT OUT THE BONE!" The bass solo after the second chorus is really cool. Rob has been a really understated part of this album; the basslines are all driving pieces but the other members manage to overshadow him for better or for worse. The first bridge here is pretty badass, and the melodic guitar piece that follows the short solo is cool. The second bridge here is even better. James sounds fantastic. The riff section that follows is awesome as well. There's some fast stuff, and then there's some trudging stuff that I quite like. It really starts to slow down more and more as it comes through. Then things builds back up with some really good drumming from Lars and we head into a solo that wouldn't feel out of place on any of Metallica's '80s albums. It's surprisingly great. Then with a mere thirty seconds left we return to the chorus, and it's still so good. Metallica seem to always have better openers than the do closer - with the exception prior being the Master Of Puppets album - but fucking Christ, this song is just unrelenting power. You talk about going out on a high note? This. damn. song. Holy crap, it's a fucking great way to wrap things up. 10/10

Disc One of Hardwired... is just one great song after another. Disc Two isn't as good, but there are some great songs on it nonetheless. When taken as a whole, this album is just sheer awesomeness through-and-through. Yes, it has its lows, but the highs here far outweigh any issues. The band is absolutely pedal-to-the-metal throughout; they feel more inspired than they have since at least Load, and it feels like they're really having fun here. All in all, this is entirely too good of an album from a band this far in their career with so many bumps along the way. But man... they did it. If this ends up being their last album (which I hope not), it's a fucking awesome way to close out their career with.

Disc One: 97%
Disc Two: 80%

Rating: 88%