We are Forerunners. Guardians of all that exists. The roots of the Galaxy have grown deep under our careful tending. Where there is life, the wisdom of our countless generations has saturated the soil. Our strength is a luminous sun, towards which all intelligence blossoms... And the impervious shelter beneath which it has prospered.
If you've been listening to heavy metal, or hard rock, for any length of time, you HAVE heard of METALLICA. You HAVE heard, at the very least, the Black Album. If you are a serious metalhead, you have certainly heard their seminal first four albums- "Kill 'Em All", "Ride the Lightning", their greatest work, "Master of Puppets", and their flawed but still highly complex pinnacle of thrash metal showmanship, "... And Justice for All".
And if you are a self-respecting metalhead, you probably think that METALLICA is one of the greatest bands ever to exist.
Which is why I'm going to publicly say something that is undoubtedly going to piss off legions of metalheads:
For the love of God, FIRE Lars Ulrich already.
No doubt I'm going to get a lot of hate for that one. Allow me to explain why I say this.
When I first got into metal, I went out and bought "Master of Puppets" as soon as I could get my hands on it. I listened to it almost every day. I thought that it was one of the greatest albums ever made. But over time, I began to listen to other thrash metal bands, and I began to realise that in fact, METALLICA's songwriting, technical skills, precision, and overall musicianship paled in comparison with far more proficient bands like SLAYER and MEGADETH.
Eventually I got around to listening to MEGADETH's "Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?". That was the moment that METALLICA completely lost their lustre in my eyes, and I realised that the band that so many people worshipped was in fact a technically, musically, and artistically inferior outfit next to the jaw-dropping virtuosity of MEGADETH's 1986 lineup. If you don't agree, I challenge you to listen to perhaps the greatest METALLICA track ever, "Disposable Heroes", next to the insanely complex and virtuosic musicianship of Chris Poland and Gar Samuelson on "Good Mourning/Black Friday". Come back after you're done and then tell me with a straight face that METALLICA could actually hold a candle to MEGADETH.
Better yet, listen to METALLICA's "The Four Horsemen" and then listen to MEGADETH's "Mechanix". The reason they sound so similar is because Dave Mustaine was once part of METALLICA- and he was involved in writing much of their best material from the first two albums, including that song. Are you really going to tell me that the METALLICA version is better than the MEGADETH version?
Matters were not helped at all by the release of the sonic abortion that was "St. Anger". That album is simply unbearable. What's worse is, because METALLICA was such a seminal influence in thrash metal- for reasons that even today largely escape me- people still lined up in droves to buy it. One of my best friends from high school- the guy who got me hooked on metal, in fact- was involved with organising the launch party for that album in Australia back when it was released, and he told me later that people were listening to it and laughing at it, because it was so awful. Yet, because it was a new METALLICA record, they bought four copies nonetheless.
The result of all of this is that I went through a long, long period of refusing to listen to any music by METALLICA; until last year, it must have been a good 8 years since I last listened to any music by them. Only recently have I begun listening to them again, and I will admit, however grudgingly, that "Master of Puppets" is a great, if flawed, album.
So why do I argue that METALLICA's Lars Ulrich needs to be fired? Simple. He's a terrible drummer and his live playing- the true test of any musician- sucks ass. And yet he's one of the most highly influential drummers ever to sit behind a drum kit.
Try listening to a recent METALLICA live performance. It's nearly impossible. The drum sound is harsh, discordant, and completely out of time. As indicated in the first video above, Lars relies very heavily on the use of a china cymbal to cover up his inability to keep time, his inability to drum fast, and his mistakes on the bass drum and in playing fills. I tried listening to them perform "Orion", "Dyer's Eve", "One", and several other great old tracks live, and had to give up very quickly each time simply because the drumming was so irritating.
Seriously, try listening to these songs and tell me that the drum sound, rhythm, and sense of time is even marginally tolerable:
Lars Ulrich simply is not worthy of the regard and the position that he claims. His live playing is horrible. He has openly admitted that he doesn't practice much. On the most technically complex album the band ever recorded, the song "Dyer's Eve" stands out as one of the speediest and most aggressive songs they've ever made- yet the drum parts had to be recorded in 30-second clips because Lars simply wasn't good enough to keep time at that pace. These are all facts on the record which can be found by anyone with access to a search engine, so go look this up if you don't believe me.
When compared with true legends like Buddy Rich, Neil Peart (a.k.a. the drummer that makes God jealous), Mike Portnoy, Dave Lombardo, or Nicko McBrain (the entire "Brave New World" album was a masterclass in great drumming), a hack like Lars Ulrich comes off looking very shabby indeed. Yet he is considered to be one of the greatest and most influential drummers ever. It is high time that metalheads look past the blinkers and realise that the man may well be an extremely shrewd and skilled businessman and a great promoter- but he is a dreadful drummer.
I leave the last words to undertakerfreak1127, who also produced this video expressing everything that is wrong with METALLICA's drumming from the perspective of a true fanboy. Pay careful attention to his comments at the end about carelessness, they are very important: