The Horns Up Top 10: Metallica

Man, when Corey gets back from Germany, he’s going to be pissed that I’ve taken all of the easy bands for these Top 10s. (He’s also going to have exactly zero grounds to complain, seeing as I’ve been covering everything for two weeks, but that’s a bit beside the point.) Anyway, hey! It’s Monday, so that means it’s time for another edition of The Horns Up Top 10. This week, we’re going to do METALLICA!


Ah, Metallica. While their recent output has meandered through a relatively limited range of “meh” to “complete shit,” you can’t discount the influence these four horsemen had on the genre in their heyday. They’re perhaps the best example of a problem we’ve already encountered multiple times for this segment–where whittling down a band’s discography to just 10 songs becomes nearly impossible. Well, I’ve done my best here. My Top 10 for Metallica is as follows:

“Ride the Lightning” (from Ride the Lightning, 1984)

I was half-tempted to throw this entire album into my Top 10 list, and don’t really think I’d have been at all off-base in doing so. But ultimately, I whittled it down to two, including this awesome title track, one of Dave Mustaine’s final contributions as a member of Metallica (he was fired long before the album was recorded, of course). The riff and chorus are absolute killers, but what really does it for me is the way the song changes feel completely during the solo section–a complete overhaul into speed-driven mayhem. Just fantastic.

“Sad But True” (from Metallica, 1991)

DEAR CHRIST, THAT RIFF. Yeah, I know this is their mainstream album, and no, I’ve never quite seen this song the same way after this incident, but GODDAMN, what a groove.  Kirk’s wah-wah-laden solo seals the deal–hardly his shreddiest by any stretch, but it’s easily one of the most tasteful he’s recorded in all his time in the band. I will never not love this thing.

“Master of Puppets” (from Master of Puppets, 1986)

I mean, what can you really say here?  I’ve always found this album to be ever so slightly overrated–to clarify, by “ever so slightly overrated” I mean, “I have the gall to rate it as the second-best Metallica album”–but there’s absolutely no impeaching the title track. It’s simply tremendous–compositionally, sonically…really, any way you look at it.

“The Four Horsemen” (from Kill ’em All, 1983)

The band’s first real epic. Let Dave Mustaine “Mechanix” this thing up as much as he wants to–it’ll always be advantage Metallica in my book.

“King Nothing” (from Load, 1996)

Bash Load as you will, but this one’s always been a highlight. The gnarly, grooving beast of a riff sets the initial tone, but it’s Papa Het’s sneering, devilishly catchy chorus that ultimately does it for me.  Okay, it’s a little goofy hearing James play around with the words “no” and “nothing” 1,000 different ways during the outro, but not enough to really detract all that much in my book.

“Harvester of Sorrow” (from …And Justice for All, 1988)

The first of my two selections from …And Justice for All, neither of which would probably rank in most people’s Top 3 from that album. Oh well…in an album that can, at times, seem to drag a bit, “Harvester of Sorrow” has always been a welcome antidote. It’s comparatively taut without being any less of a ‘banger. Nice, grooving guitar work throughout, and both the chorus and the riff that immediately precedes it are gems.

“Holier Than Thou” (from Metallica, 1991)

For me, this is the song on the Black Album that best recalls the band’s thrashier early days. (Albeit a streamlined, Diet Coke-esque version of them.) And while I wasn’t yet enough of a music listener (or, in fact, a conscious being) to have felt any sense of…I guess you’d call it betrayal?…with the release of Metallica as their early hardcore fans did, it’s still a welcome callback on an unabashed departure from that era. It’s as big a kick-in-the-ass as anything on that album.

“Whiplash” (from Kill ’em All, 1983)

As ripping and raw as it gets. Does “Whiplash” break as much ground as some of the others on this list? Hardly, but it was still the first non-Black Album track I ever heard from Metallica, so it’s always gonna hold a sentimental spot on my list.

“The Frayed Ends of Sanity” (from …And Justice for All, 1988)

Imagine my delight when the band FINALLY took this one live, 26 years after the fact. Ever since my first listen to …And Justice for All, this one’s stood out as a highlight to me. The intro is as evil as anything they’ve ever done, while the chorus simply demands a singalong from listeners. “The Frayed Ends of Sanity” simply kicks ass for every single one of its seven minutes and 44 seconds.

“Creeping Death” (from Ride the Lightning, 1984)

Book-ending this list with two classics from my personal favorite Metallica album, and…yeah, of course it’s “Creeping Death.” This song is pretty much the truth. Enough said.

The Horns Up Top 10 on Spotify

That’ll do it for this week’s Top 10! As always, leave suggestions for bands you want to see covered in future editions, and check back later on for Quickies!


Live. Love. Plow. Horns Up.

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