“You Want Peaks And Valleys In Your Catalog”

Metallica‘s discography has certainly been varied over the years. You’ve got the first four thrash classics from Kill ‘Em All to …And Justice For All, you’ve got the hard turn into radio-friendly metal with The Black Album to Reload, and then you’ve got the more experimental stuff like St. Anger and Lulu. Metallica have made it extremely well-known how they feel about the band’s different eras over the years, and guitarist Kirk Hammett totally embraces those opinions.

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In an interview with producer Rick Beato, Hammett said he feels variety in a band’s discography is way better than sticking to the same sound, even if it’s a good one.

Metallica has always tried different things,” said Hammett. “We always took a chance, even if some band members weren’t fully on. There’s been times I haven’t been fully on, and I was just, like, ‘I am gonna take a chance, a leap of faith, lean on my other three band members.’ It’s always been worth it. It’s always been worth it.

“Even though sometimes we’ve taken chances and they failed horribly from a commercial standpoint, I think creatively and artistically, I think they’re huge successes. And I speak specifically about Lulu, the album we did with Lou Reed, and also about St. Anger. Those are really divisive albums, and you have two camps — people who like it and people who don’t. I think stuff like that’s important to have in your catalog. ‘Cause you just don’t want a lot of the same thing. You want peaks and valleys; you want contrast. It’s what makes it interesting.

“And if you have a catalog that’s just perfect, people get bored of it. There’s a lot of the same thing. Sometimes people wanna get challenged by their favorite band. I love Yes. The first three or four Yes albums are brilliant. But then they took a freaking left turn into somewhere else. And I loved it, ’cause it was challenging. And it forced me to listen even harder.”

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Hammett also touched on Master Of Puppets and what …And Justice For All might’ve been like with the late and great bassist Cliff Burton.

Master Of Puppets, for a number of reasons. I really felt that [album was] that lineup’s peak, and I mean that we were peaking with Cliff Burton…. Arrangement-wise, songwriting-wise, sonically, playing-wise, we coalesced in a way that we had not coalesced at that point. And it just makes me wonder what …And Justice For All would’ve been like with Cliff. That’s a thought that I still contemplate.

“But Master Of Puppets, for me, it’s a very sentimental album. We knew we were on to something, and we knew it was provocative and we knew that it might not be accepted by anyone, but we were fully, a thousand percent committed to it — every single note. And we had to be, really — we had to be. And I think it shows. When I revisit it now, I get flooded by a bunch of memories.”

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