gogmagogical, who always seems to find the jewels lurking in the wild, I tore into my local Barnes & Noble earlier today, expecting the one of a kind magazine + vinyl match-up to be scarce or, at the very least, sold out. To my amazement, the bookstore had five or six copies ripe for the taking and presumably a good deal at $14.99.
The First 30 Years features two live tracks; the first a cover of Anti-Nowhere League's "So What." The band's long-time vocalist, Animal, treats the track as an opportunity to bark into the microphone and claim what was originally his, while Metallica back him with the same approach they have taken to music since 1991: simple, yet effective, chord progressions that make up the majority of their post-nineties material. Sadly, Kirk is still very much the same, though, and continues down the path of messy, wah-infested hammer-ons and pull-offs.
Side two of the flimsy 7" falls back into well-known Metallica territory, culling a cut from The Black Album. Before plunging into the real meat of the song, "Through the Never" opens up with James humorously remarking, "Uhhhh... Riff!," as the band charges into breakdown mode with a series of pseudo-complex guitaring and heavy skin bashing. Unfortunately for Hetfield, his vocals remain a shadow of what they once were and sound weak, lacking much of bite he enjoyed during the eighties. I surmise this isn't his fault at all; you can't imitate yourself forever, no matter how hard you try.
Despite however cheap The First 30 Years may feel, though, the record is actually decent for a modern Metallica effort, defying their lack of transparency and the amount of fucks given toward recent content. Each track shows a different side of the band, revealing their inner-influences, while plucking material from their most popular era. I don't regret picking this 7" up one bit, but I do question how many times I can play the damn thing before it wears through. "Free" comes at a price. Quality was definitely the sacrifice here.