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Metallica Perform a Stone-Cold Classic from Lockdown

By Petr Knava | Videos | May 6, 2020 |

By Petr Knava | Videos | May 6, 2020 |


We’re all gonna have all our little selfish framings of why the current global capitalist health crisis is specifically upsetting to us. There’s nothing really wrong with that. Yes of course the bigger picture is, well, bigger, than any of us; and there have been few things as damaging to the world than the bullsh*t poisonous modern era cult of rugged individualism so championed by American myths and Anglocentric and Western European culture in general—but still, we’re allowed to be upset over how things have affected us: About plans ruined, lives disrupted, little pleasures denied. Those things that make the neoliberal toil that is life on this poisoned, burning Earth bearable. As long as perspective is maintained, it’s alright. It’s okay to not be okay. I had a number of metal festivals and gigs all booked in and paid for for this summer and beyond, for example. They featured some of my favourite bands of all time, playing fantastic venues in incredible places, with some of my best friends in the world planning to attend too. All of those plans have evaporated in the face of the pandemic—or are certain to shortly. Now, in the grand scheme of things, that’s a trivial concern. It really Doesn’t Matter. But it still does, to me. It doesn’t tear me up inside, because that bigger picture is impossible to ignore, but there’s still a nugget of feeling deep down inside that resonates with sadness. (The feeling I’m ham-handedly grasping at has been addressed here before, in far defter ways.)

Anywhoooo, that self-indulgent ramble aside, one of the features of this summer of disruption is the increasing number of bands whose touring has been interrupted putting on lockdown performances via YouTube. One of my favourites so far came out the other day: Metallica—with a newly sober and healthy post-rehab James Hetfield (congratulations James)—performing a country-tinged, ‘acoustic’ version of their mammoth 1988 song, ‘Blackened’. ‘Blackened’ of course originally appeared on the hugely ambitious, proggy, existentially despairing album ‘…And Justice For All’, which marked the peak of the thrash pioneers’ creative muscle stretching before they paired things down and streamlined significantly for the far more commercial 1991’s ‘The Black Album’. ‘Blackened’ is one of Metallica’s absolute best songs—right up there in the top tier alongside the other crown jewel of its home album, ‘One’. Despite its terrible album mixing, the songs stand alongside aside the best of Kill ‘em All, Ride the Lightning, and Master of Puppets. For reference, here is the tune being performed in its original form shortly after its release, albeit at—as with the rest of this mad gig—about 10% faster speed than the album recording:

And here is the 2020 version, shot through with the pain and wisdom of accumulated years—but still featuring Lars’ ridiculous, here entirely unnecessary drum face:

How I missed ‘Blackened’ on the roundup of songs about climate change, considering it has lyrics like—

Blackened is the end
Winter it will send
Throwing all you see
Into obscurity
Death of mother earth
Never a rebirth
Evolution’s end
Never will it mend, never

See our mother put to death
See our mother die
Smoldering decay
Take her breath away
Millions of our years
In minutes disappears
Darkening in vain
Decadence remains
All is said and done
Never is the sun never

—and that it is probably one of my most listened to songs ever is truly a potent testament to the remorseless declining of my own mental faculties.

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Petr is a staff contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.

Header Image Source: YouTube