Kill ‘Em All
The band’s debut was the perfect fusion of punk animosity and metal precision. Its back cover showed four pimply, chill-looking dudes, but the album’s 10 songs (many co-written with Dave Mustaine, before he left to form Megadeth) are all pure visceral attack. They laid out their headbanging vision on “Whiplash”: “Life out here is raw/ But we’ll never stop, we’ll never quit/’Cause we’re Metallica.”
Live Shit: Binge & Purge
For years, this CD/VHS (later DVD) box set was the band’s go-to live document. The two three-hour Black Album-era gigs capture the sheer, steamrolling might of “Sad but True” and “Sandman,” while the video of a 1989 Seattle gig from the Justice tour shows a moment when Metallica’s early punkish attitude crisscrossed with the rush of playing arenas.
On 1996’s Load, Metallica shocked fans with a post-grunge sound and, weirder still, short hair. This set of outtakes from the album actually sounds more comfortable than the original. “Carpe Diem Baby” is an under
appreciated peak, while “The Memory Remains” paired them with Marianne Faithfull in all her witch-voiced glory.
Metallica always had great taste in covers, and they showed that off here, charging through songs by artists from the new wave of British heavy metal like Blitzkrieg and Sweet Savage, goth crooner Nick Cave, rock heroes Queen, and hardcore punks the Misfits. Their version of “Am I Evil?,” by U.K. cult metal heroes Diamond Head, has long been a frequent Metallica encore.
On 2008’s Death Magnetic, producer Rick Rubin pushed the band to return to the sound of Master of Puppets and Ride the Lightning. That introspection bore even better fruit here, from the furious tumult of “Hardwired” to “Spit Out the Bone,” their best speed-metal symphony since the Black Album.