Robert Trujillo saved this band. That's a fact.
Many metal fans are ready to disown METALLICA once again after their left-of-center (to put it nicely) collaboration with Lou Reed, "Lulu". Yet, the Metalli-dudes are as savvy as Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley in working this market to their best advantage, particularly in the face of rejection. METALLICA never stays in a rut, that's another fact.
It's not just in the way Lars Ulrich yaps his tongue out in twenty second intervals while performing, much like the God of Thunder himself. Annoying as the incessant lasciviousness may be after two minutes, that's just each man's shtick. Recognizing the momentum former SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, INFECTIOUS GROOVES and Ozzy bassist Robert Trujillo bestowed the group on their 2008 rebound album "Death Magnetic", this video document of METALLICA's thrash-restored stage presence is purposefully unleashed as if trying to redeem their honor. Thankfully, it's sought from their original fans.
I had the opportunity of catching METALLICA on the 1988 Monsters Of Rock tour, a point in their careers when Jason Newsted had just joined ranks, "...And Justice For All" only weeks away from release. The set back then was chocked with selections from the first three albums and the debut of "Blackened". It was a mosh monster's paradise, even if METALLICA was only the second act of five back then on a bill with VAN HALEN, SCORPIONS, DOKKEN and KINGDOM COME. Sad but true, METALLICA was never the same band after that tour. Given the slower, streamlined directions METALLICA has veered into since then, to even imagine them commandeering a thrash-happy set again as found on "Quebec Magnetic" seemed preposterous.
And yet, the Quebecois in attendance at Colisee Pepsi on Halloween and the following day in 2009 were throttled by a very hungry METALLICA plunged upon the center floor of the arena. During the "The Black Album" and "Load" eras, METALLICA's attempts to punch out "Damage, Inc." and "Whiplash" had suffered in translation from the AOR mindframe they'd surrendered themselves to. This time, there's nothing to be suffered. While METALLICA may represent the LED ZEPPELIN of their generation, it's been damned heartbreaking to witness their core velocity queef with memories remaining for the formative years fan base that paid everyone else's dues for them. The final insult was watching one-time persecutors find a change of heart once METALLICA suddenly made vibes better for chugging brews and knocking back some eight ball than actual headbanging. MOTLEY CRUE was guilty of the same offense.
"Quebec Magnetic", friends, is a return to the real, much like "Death Magnetic" the album was. There's still a trace of the lordly airs filtering amongst the principals of METALLICA (let's face it, Lars Ulrich just might live in his own world where few are welcome), yet the Latin lion Robert Trujillo has knocked METALLICA back down a few pegs in the right manner. Sufficient to say he's helped make this group fierce again. His knee-scraping lurches, feral sneers and oblong bass tilts are just what the doctor ordered for METALLICA. With the exception of "Enter Sandman" and "Nothing Else Matters", the jock rock is wiped clean from the playlist of "Quebec Magnetic". Nary a trace of the "Load" albums, much less "St. Anger" will be found here. Instead, you get "Death Magnetic" in its near-entirety between the main feature and bonus tracks, minus only "Suicide & Redemption" and "The Unforgiven III".
God bless them, METALLICA whips out the old catalog, all expectant staples such as "Battery", "Master of Puppets", "The Four Horsemen", "Whiplash", "Master of Puppets" and "For Whom the Bell Tolls". Add to the fun "The Shortest Straw" and "Phantom Lord". Wowzers, those are gifts. The only song METALLICA shanks in the entire slew is "One". You won't care much, though, because "Quebec Magnetic" is an exhausting, pleasurable thrash haunt that wraps on a hilarious note with the guys donning Halloween masks and kicking out giant inflatable balls to their rabid audience on the closing number, "Seek and Destroy". If anything, "One" gets incinerated by the reverse effect of METALLICA's dedication to hyperspeed in this set. Well-comparable in energy, the "Death Magnetic" material onstage is majestic, in particular "Cyanide", "My Apocalypse", "That Was Just Your Life" and "All Nightmare Long".
Dare I say from a personal perspective, "Quebec Magnetic" is far superior to the blitzkrieging METALLICA I saw in '88. If METALLICA have learned a few lessons over the years, it's in the way they keep Trujillo reigned into their nucleus (versus reports of the ostracizing of his predecessor) and they feed off of him. James Hetfield is both composed and perched on the edge of imploding, while Kirk Hammett tears away scales and arpeggios with relaxed glee. Lars is a total goofball who thrives on toying with his audience and basking in its adoration, but he's otherwise well into the moment. Trujillo is the eye of the storm, 'nuff said.
METALLICA seems to have genuinely accepted Cliff Burton's death after all these years and Robert Trujillo represents the band's healing conduit. Moreover, METALLICA found their balls again through him, judging by this speed freaking set that rips bungholes within every square inch they can project to. "Lulu" may have stymied in the fans' eyes what METALLICA gained back with "Death Magnetic", but "Quebec Magnetic" rings like an overdue apology letter. Hopefully that will culminate in full redemption the next time they hit the studio. Mr. Trujillo, keep your boys honest.
- Ray Van Horn, Jr.