I was a huge fan of Metallica’s “Death Magnetic” but in a strange move the band compressed the music so much, in order to increase the volume, it sometimes make my speakers crack. I wasn’t as pissed as the general public, but it was annoying. When you “compress” the music, in layman’s terms, you digitally compact the music so you can push it up in the sound spectrum so it’s physically louder. It was completely unnecessary and provided less than optimal sound. I still love the album, but Jesus guys. Use your heads.
When I saw that “Hardwired…To Self Destruct” was coming out, I quickly learned that there were two versions, a standard one and a “Deluxe” version. Now, I’m a scrupulous buyer of LPs… If there are bonus tracks to be had, I investigate and there is a high likelihood that I’ll buy the deluxe version of any album – if the bonus tracks are worth it. If they’re early demos, or the dreaded “remixes” then I’m likely not interested. Sometimes the bonus tracks are better than some of the deeper album cuts. The Rolling Stones, on the LP “A Bigger Bang,” issued a deluxe version that had video version of two songs, one of which, “Under the Radar” is the greatest Stones tune you’ve never heard.
When “Hardwired…” first came out, I looked at both versions. It appeared the bonus disc was collection of demos. There was one completed tune, “Lords Of Summer.” Metallica’s creative process is not unlike that of many bands… they jam at soundchecks and rehearsal spaces and record it all. Later they go through all the stuff and if they hear certain riffs or passages they like, they build those into songs. So with titles on the bonus disc like: “Plow (Riff origins)” and “Tin Shot (Riff Origins)” my reaction was, no thanks. I get that completists will want all the tracks, nobody understands that more than your dedicated, obsessive-compulsive B&V writer. I also understand how the “Riff” early versions of these songs would be of interest to those curious about Metallica’s creative process.
In my case, I wasn’t interested. I purchased the first single off the standard version, figuring I would buy that version when it came out and go back and purchase “Lords Of Summer” from the deluxe version and I’d be whole. But then, at this late hour, the chuckleheads in Metallica change their fucking mind. They’ve decided to completely change the bonus tracks. Gone are the “Riff Origins” versions of these tunes and now they’re releasing a bunch of live stuff and cover tunes they’ve recorded since “Death Magnetic.”
It’s like they realized, “Hey, nobody wants to hear us noodling, we have all these extra tracks, let’s do that instead.” Normally I’d be thrilled to see this track listing but I already committed to the standard version. I know, I know, it’s only $1.29, I shouldn’t be bitching and this will teach me to be patient and wait for the vinyl version anyway, but I like to hear new tunes as soon as they’re available and that’s typically an MP3. It’s just the principle of the thing that pisses me off. These guys do some of the stupidest shit I’ve ever seen. I thought since Hetfield sobered up maybe somebody was actually steering this battleship who might be a tad more… thoughtful.
OK, enough of my rant. Now, the good news. These bonus tunes do look awesome. The bonus disc now looks like a mini- “Garage Inc.” a heavy metal cover album that I just loved. There are covers by Dio, Iron Maiden and a Deep Purple obscurity. They’ve also packed what looks like some great live versions of older tunes. Stuff they recorded on their Record Store Day show at a small LP shop and some tracks from their recent Minneapolis concert. All this looks like great bonus material… if only they’d released it like this to begin with.
We all have that one friend who leaves us scratching our heads, wondering, WTF did he do that for. It appears in my rock and roll universe that friend is Metallica. Stupid moves aside, like that WTF friend, I still love his band. I guess in the end, Metallica, I just can’t stay mad at you. I’m very excited to hear what I believe is going to be a pummeling heavy metal attack.