The Nine Lives of Metallica

With Metallica having announced ‘S&M Volume II’ in July 2020, we revisited the first recording from 1999 and it was just about as terrible as we remembered. A second volume of Metallica tunes bolstered by a symphony orchestra isn’t necessarily going to appeal to an audience beyond the die hard fans, but then, it’s those die hards who’ve helped keep the band afloat through good and bad over several decades.

On the eve of a new album that’s bound to split opinion, Real Gone takes a look back at the times Metallica missed the mark.

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NUCLEAR WINTER – StormScapes EP

Nuclear Winter isn’t a band, but the work of just one man. Even with the usage of programmed drums throughout his 2020 release ‘StormScapes’, Zimbabwean metal musician Gary Stautmeister creates as much intensity as a full compliment of musicians. He’s also been smart enough to program those drums in such a way that they never grate, or worse, make his recordings sound cheap. By using them in a way that creates a genuine mechanical tension, it gives this EP the kind of edge you’d find from an extreme industrial band, or perhaps a technical death metal act that are over keen on the use of bass drum triggers.

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HYDRAFORM – Hydraform EP

For this Colorado based band, there’s more to progressive metal than shamelessly aping the leather trousered tedium of Dream Theater and the hundreds of copyists that have sprung up since the 90s. On this trio of tunes that make up their second release, you’ll find the obvious speedy soloing and obvious posturing, but you’ll also find influences from a post-grunge dirtiness, traces of gothic metal and eventually a love of groove and even melodic death metal. When you glue all of those together, you end up with something that at least half feels progressive, even if it wouldn’t appeal to those who love “prog”.

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BIBLE BASHER – Loud Wailing EP

What would happen if you took passages from The Bible and applied them to some of the slowest and heaviest sludge metal riffs ever? Chances are, you’d end up with something so sacriligious, it’d stir up entire American States, amuse teenagers supposedly “going through a phase” and confound a lot of other people…

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MORDRED – Volition EP

Back in the early 90s, Mordred attracted a loyal following with their crossover brand of thrash metal. Their second full length album, 1991’s ‘In This Life’ gained very positive reviews and the single ‘Falling Away’ is still guaranteed to awaken some very nostalgic feelings for anyone who happened to be in their late teens or early twenties at the time of its original release. For reasons that still don’t make entire sense, Mordred never became genuinely massive. Sure, they got all the press and worked hard on a string of support slots on great metal bills, but they never became truly major players. Perhaps their prominent use of scratching and DJ turntables was something that didn’t sit well with the metal purists, or perhaps it was their injection of funk, but that kind of mixing things up didn’t upset thrash fans when Anthrax dabbled with rap – sometimes very badly. Mordred deserved to at least be as big as Anthrax, but it wasn’t to be, and after the release of a third album in 1994, they split.

An unexpected reunion in 2013 gave the world a couple of successful tours and a digital single, ‘The Baroness’, but it didn’t seem like quite enough and as the years passed, any hopes of more new material felt as if they were fading.

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