Mark: Here it is! The end of the road! Our Metallica Blacklist journey concludes today.
If this were a movie, it would be expected that our heroes grew in some way or gained some kind of insight from their arduous journey. I am not sure that I have learned much! Maybe there are a handful of songs on the Black Album that I wasn’t all that aware of that I like more than, say, “The Unforgiven”. But I don’t think that this exercise has made me any more likely to throw on a Metallica record.
If nothing else, this was a good excuse to sit down and write, and a good chance to write some zingers about the shittiest Metallica Blacklist entries. Hearing great music is all well and good, but there’s nothing like hearing terrible music and ripping it to shreds. I should really do some more of that in the new year.
Jay, are you looking forward to not having to interact with me every week or so?
Jay: Truly, I’m going to miss the weekly interactions on this here blog. I hope we find some ways to continue our Statler & Waldorf-esque examinations of pop culture!
As for the Blacklist, I’m ready for it to end, though I do think it deserves us putting together a “best of the Black: list” (get it? get it?!? sigh). I don’t remember this song whatsoever from its name, and I don’t recognize the cover artists. Let’s see what we’ve got in store for a finale!
Rodrigo y Gabriela – “The Struggle Within”
Mark: If I am correct in my assumption of who this artist is, this cover is going to be instrumental.
So far it seems like it must be a fairly faithful version, structurally, albeit one performed sans vocals on nylon string guitars. The playing is really impressive, but this also seems incredibly non-essential to me. I think that I would be super impressed if I saw this performed by some people in a live setting, but as a piece of recorded music it holds next to no interest for me.
Super talented folks. I can’t even tell if the bones of this song are sturdy, though. I … miss Papa Het? I have never said this before in my life.
Jay: Mark already has a “C+” listed for me here, which I think is hilarious. First moments are definitely above a C+, with some nice percussion and nylon guitar. Sounds like somebody’s playing one of those terrible wooden stools that doubles as kick and snare drum, though, which is always a strike against.
I just spent like two minutes trying to look up what those things are called: it’s called a “cajón”!
Anyway, in all that time, it’s just been a close-mic’d acoustic version of a Metallica song without much to mention. I like the sound of the instruments, I don’t hate it, and I wouldn’t be bothered if this was on in the background, but that’s about it. Turns out that Mark was right in his estimate of my grade!
Grade: D+ (Mark), C+ (Jay)
Metallica – “The Struggle Within” (Remastered)
Mark: This song starts off with Lars playing the 20th Century Fox promo music, so now I just wanna go watch the Alien movies.
When the song gets moving, it has a refreshing amount of get-up-and-go compared to most of the half-time sluggish stuff on this record. At least for the verse proper. The rest of it falls back into familiar “stomp” territory.
The guitar work on this track is fairly menacing but mostly indistinct, apart from the nicely hooky pre-chorus riff. Kirk does really chew into the extended solo section, which might be one of the best on the album.
I’m not sure that this song is the most memorable track to end your album with, but the “struggle within” gang vocals in the chorus are reasonably fun, and the tune (thankfully) moves at a brisk enough clip and doesn’t overstay its welcome.
For sure not the worst song or the best song on the Black Album.
Jay: Mark has already stolen my Aliens joke without knowing it, so I’ve got nothing.
This song really moves during its verses, and it just makes me wish there was more of this pace on the Black Album in general. Like Mark, I’m not sure how well this works as a finale to the album, but I bet it would be a ton of fun to see live, especially that solo.
This song also makes me realize that while the Black Album is full of huge hits, there’s something missing to it, in terms of being an album. As a kid, I spent a lot of time listening to …And Justice for All, and I was never sure why. Maybe I was already pretentious in my early years and rightly recognized that a bunch of great singles does not make an album.
Or maybe I’m just an idiot.
Next installment: Maybe a post selecting the very best cover of each song, to create a definitive BLACKLIST BLACK ALBUM PLAYLIST. But also, maybe this is the last one! Hooray!