Thursday, February 19, 2009
Album of 2008
I know. Two months after everyone else, but fuck it. Many will decry this as nonsense, but hey, everyone’s opinion on album of the year is a mere opinion, after all. This was the album that brought it all back for me. I got back into my metal days because of this album, and now all of my phases can rest comfortably beside each other. I picked up my guitar again, after several years of not touching it. As much as it was a return to form for Metallica, it reminded me of how much I used to love just sitting around listening to a really great album, poring over the liner notes or just admiring the cover.
This album really needs to be listened to as a complete work from beginning to end, not piecemealed out like so much of our music today. I really like that in my favorite albums, which include Radiohead’s OK Computer, Metallica’s own Master of Puppets, Pearl Jam's Yield, and U2’s The Joshua Tree.
Most of all, it was like discovering Metallica for the first time again. Hearing this was like that first time I heard …And Justice For All. I was scarcely aware Metallica had a new album coming out this year until a month before its release. I mean, hell, they had gone off on a faux-gay tangent in 1996 (even though I like the Load album, I could do without Lars’ and Kirk’s images), Jason Newsted left in 2001, there was the Napster thing that bothered everyone but me, and worst of all, St. Anger, which I still can’t get into other than a couple of songs. I guess they just slipped off my radar for about five years while I went into other lower-decibel genres. In August of last year, my brother Andy says that the single from Death Magnetic, ‘The Day That Never Comes’ was streaming from Metallica’s website, and he showed me. I was floored, really. It was full of riffs, and most importantly, a day hoped for that never came was a particularly relevant topic to me at that point (and still is) so it was the right song at the right time.
This album still holds up in repeated listens. I listened to it nonstop for the first couple of weeks after I bought it. Then I let it rest, but eventually, I came back to it and I still listen to most of it at least once a week. I was lucky enough to see Metallica on the World Magnetic tour on its fourth stop in Des Moines, and hearing about five new songs live really helped to reinforce the strength of this album.
I was going to do a top seven of my favorite albums, but I decided to just go with a post about my favorite of this year. If you must know, numbers two and three were AC/DC’s Black Ice and Coldplay’s Viva La Vida. Believe it or not, Guns N’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy actually made my list. It’s a strong work, almost too strong. Had it been allowed to escape before 2002, it might have been pretty good.