Picks and Pans Review: Metallica

updated 09/09/1991 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/09/1991 AT 01:00 AM EDT


Out of the blast furnace of anguished youth comes another batch of molten, distempered steel. To give you some idea of the alienation factor involved, how paranoid do you have to be when even the thought of falling asleep fills you with dread, as it does on this record's first single, "Enter Sandman"?

This record marks something of a departure for Metallica, the most important band in heavy metal. For the first time, the Bay Area quartet is working with a well-known producer, Bob Rock, a name highly regarded in head-banger circles. He has brought a deeper, clearer and somewhat more conventional sound to this record, an influence that extends to the instrumentation, arrangements and, especially, to James Hetfield's vocals.

That civilized approach is most marked on the more ornate compositions, such as "The Unforgiven" and "Nothing Else Matters." Unfortunately Rock has also defanged a couple of the harder songs, "Wherever I May Roam" and "My Friend of Misery."

Of course, trying to restrain Metallica is like sending Godzilla to a crash course at obedience school. No other band is likely to simulate the ravening guitar crunch of "Sad but True," the manic panic of "Holier than Thou," the Sturm und Drang of "Through the Never" and "The God That Failed," or the sheer aural savagery of "Of Wolf and Man."

Yes, Metallica has sacrificed some of its rawness. But even with some of their primitive edge removed, this group still hits harder than the rest of the metal mob. (Elektra)

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