Released: 2010, Warner Brothers
I’m sitting down to write what is my very first review of a Metallica album. It feels odd. This site has only ever published one Metallica review in our entire history. It is not that we have an anti-Metallica policy, far from it, but we are a progressive, forward thinking, site that focuses on new material. We were founded in 1995 there have not been that many Metallica albums worth discussing; only LOAD, RELOAD, ST.ANGER, DEATH MAGNETIC and LULU have come out in the past 18 years, and I think I can safely speak for the vast majority of our staff and say only one of those albums was worth reviewing. I bet you can guess which one we did review! We didn’t really want to go back and review the old Metallica stuff…does the internet really need a 100th review of MASTER OF PUPPETS? I think not. So here we are about 18 years later and we have only one Metallica review in our database. It’s not like they haven’t put out lots of stuff, they have about 25 EP’s, Live albums, box-sets, compilations, DVD’s etc since 1995, but we just have not looked at any of it.
My personal relationship with Metallica is one of love/hate, musically speaking. I’ve seen them live, I’ve met them, but I know deep down, I gave up on them after the self-titled album came out, almost a quarter of a century ago. I check into Camp Metallica once in a while; LOAD and RELOAD were horrible, GARAGE INC. was interesting, S&M was adequate, ST. ANGER was horrible, DEATH MAGNETIC was decent, and I can’t bring myself to hear LULU. So what has inspired me to look at them now? I guess there is a lot of buzz about the Metallica movie coming out and I just found an little Live EP, LIVE AT GRIMEY’S (that I had forgotten even existed) really cheap in a used store. I bought it on a whim because apparently it is quite rare now, and you know what? It’s not bad.
LIVE AT GRIMEY’S is one of many little Live Metallica EP’s the band has churned out to promote various singles in Japan or tours in Australia and the like. I call it an EP but it the album is almost an hour long as they bands plays nine songs. The packaging is very simple, no lyrics, just a few photos, not much to look at (except the old logo is back!) but the notes tell us it was a gig in Nashville back in 2008. Why then? Why that place? Was it a fan club thing? I want more info, it is this little stuff that keeps me up at night, why does this CD even exist? It doesn’t matter, because it is actually a fun record. Some of the Metallica live albums are so bloated, multi-disc affairs, running 2-3 hours in giant stadiums with the Metallica meat-grinding machine in full swing. This album is more like a little, spontaneous gig. The atmosphere is electric! The band is loose and sloppy as they run through mostly old stuff, including a bit of a jam on ‘Frayed Ends of Sanity’ and a Motorhead cover. James sounds relaxed and happy bantering and joking with what sounds like a very small crowd. It sounds like on several occasions that members of the audience are signing the lead vocals, probably something they will never forget. Lars is out of sync sometimes and Kirk does not stay faithful to the solos all of which add to the authenticity of the album.
Despite all the emotional baggage that comes with Metallica, I really enjoyed this live album. I am just as guilty as the next guy of dragging them through the coals for their sub-standard performances and albums for the past 25 years, but when they strip it down and get up in some sweaty club gig, with nothing to gain (financially or by reputation) and everything to lose, (the band is vulnerable but at home in the basement of a record store) and perhaps that is why they can cut loose and have fun. It translates well and listening to this album brings back some good memories. Of course the die-hard fans already have this but if you are like me, a casual, former fan, I’d recommend LIVE AT GRIMEY’S to show that maybe not all is lost with this once great franchise.