2016 Best of Metal List #20(a) honorable mention

Metallica-Hardwired…To Self Destruct

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2016.  Wow, did you ever suck.  Bowie, Prince, Lemmy, Leon Russell, Jimmy Bain (Dio, Rainbow), Piotr Grudzinski (Riverside), Nick Menza (Megadeth), Sharon Jones, Leonard Cohen, Merle Haggard, Phife Dawg, Keith Emerson and Greg Lake (the E and the L of ELP) and probably a few more that I’m just forgetting all left us.   Regardless of the genre of music you dig, there was an important figure that passed away and left a hole in said genre going forward.

The Metal world saw a great number of releases in quantity and I’d love to say that it was a successful year in terms of quality.  However, if I’m being honest, it really didn’t pan out that way.  There were a number of albums that I really had no doubt prior to release would absolutely amaze, but for whatever reason, the final products didn’t match expectation levels.  However, as you will see in the coming days, there were a few jewels that stood out amongst the rabble.  You’ll see this year’s list populated by established acts announcing that their creative wells haven’t dried up and up-and-coming bands making impactful statements announcing their arrival on the scene.

On the positive side of things, the live shows I was lucky enough to attend made up for the sub-par state of the new material released on the whole.  Standouts were Refused at Mohawk, Steven Wilson at the Majestic in Dallas, Gojira at Emo’s, If These Trees Could Talk in an intimate show at The Sidewinder, the Lamb of God/Anthrax/Deafheaven/Power Trip banger at ACL Live, Sumac at The Sidewinder and At the Gates/Decapitated/The Haunted death metal extravaganza at Mohawk.

I know, I know.  Get to the damned list already.  OK…here it goes.  I’m starting it out a little differently this year by awarding an Honorable Mention this year.  The mighty Metallica finally set aside a few days from their near constant touring schedule to hit the studio and released a double album November 18th of this year.  I debated and debated on whether to include it in the actual list.  Overall, simply based on the strength of the songs, it really didn’t quite measure up.  It is a solid release, but when you’re the largest Metal band on the planet, you really should be held to a higher standard than most.  Honestly, the only reason I’m even including it on the list is so I can discuss Metallica in general for a bit.

The album does have some memorable moments on it (title track, Atlas Rise!, Confusion, and Lemmy tribute, Murder One) and I do appreciate that fact that they seem to be fully embracing their Metal-ness once again.  I think my reservations on this album do more with whether this thing will have staying power or not.  Is this an album that I’m going to have an itch to pull out a spin a year from now?  I’m not really sure.  I’m not even sure if I like it more than Death Magnetic (which is an album that I do still pull out and play).

Metallica is just a bitter-sweet band for me.  When I was growing up as a little Metalhead, Metallica were a massive influence.  They were the band that lead me to embrace thrash and was directly responsible to leading my tastes into a heavier and heavier direction.  I’m not listening to Decapitated, Enslaved or Immortal if Metallica had not come into my life at such an impressionable age.  Their first four albums will forever enshrine Metallica as one of the greats regardless of the remainder of their career.  However, their career from the Black Album through the Load, Re-Load and St. Anger disasters really hurt their standing in the Metal world even as their status in the general world of pop music began to explode.  I think the thing that pissed most metal heads off (at least it did me) wasn’t that it seemed that they sold out, but it was that they seemed to look down upon their Metal roots.  In interviews and documentaries, they seemed to be almost ashamed of their Metal past.  It felt like a betrayal.  In a way, I think that is what is nice about Death Magnetic and the current new release.  They seem to be a Metal band again and they seem really happy about it.

Anyway, enough of that.  Attached is a song from the album.  This one stood out to me because it just seemed like a track that could have been included on …And Justice For All.  It would have fit perfectly sandwiched between Harvester of Sorrow and Frayed Ends of Sanity.  I give you, “Here Comes Revenge”.  Just a nasty little riff.

I’ll be back this afternoon with the actual #20 of the list.

 

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