Once in a while, when I’m listening to one of my favorite Guns N’ Roses tunes, or something off of Metallica’s earlier recordings, I go from really enjoying the music to irate. I can’t help it. I think about how few records we were given by the two acts and, as a fan, I get frustrated. Welcome to my madness…
Okay, so from Kill ‘Em All in ’83 to The Black Album in ’91, Metallica was fucking incredible. They were badass motherfuckers who wrote the kind of music they wanted and didn’t give a shit about MTV (which was huge at the time). In ’88 they did release their first music video for One, but that was it until they finally caved for the Black Album. But being badass and doing things the Metallica way is what endeared these long-haired misfits to us, right? That and the fact that above mentioned records, plus Ride the Lightening, Master of Puppets, and …And Justice for All, kick total ass from start to finish!
Well, fast forward to Nirvana, the rise of grunge and nineties alt-rock, and the death of hair metal. Sure, bands like Poison and Warrant (who I love) and all of the clone glam metal bands were wiped out, but there was also a drastic change to the bands that initially looked like they survived the end of Headbanger’s Ball. I could go off right here on a bunch of bands, but I’ll stick with Metallica.
We didn’t get another record from the Lords of Thrash until ’94. Load, while it has a handful of decent hard rock songs, was the side effect of the death of hair metal. Metallica and their fancy new haircuts should have sued the salon–Sally Scissors also clipped off their balls! Reload, and years later St. Anger, proved that whatever magic these old-school metal heads once had was gone. People want to jump on GN’R because Axl took a billion years to put out Chinese Democracy…well Metallica pretty much did the same thing. From ‘91’s Black Album until Death Magnetic (2009), they hadn’t really put out anything of value either.
From ’87-’91 they put out Appetite for Destruction, GNR Lies, and the Use Your Illusion records. Pretty amazing stuff to be found on each of those records. No one sang like Axl, no one played like Slash, no one sounded as good together as those two with Duff, Izzy, and Steven/Matt.
By the time they got off the road in 1993 from the Illusion tours, the new nineties music was gearing up to take over. Nirvana had replaced GN’R and Metallica as the top band in the US. Axl got it in his head that the band needed to have two lead guitar players and even invited Ozzy’s Zack Wilde to come jam with the band. Slash was caught off guard and upset, and after Axl passed on his latest batch of demos, he decided he’d had enough. Slash quit, and was eventually followed by Duff and Matt (Izzy left in late ’91). Mind you, Axl did not fire any of them from the band. So, as mad as people get about Axl running Guns with all new members…he was pretty much abandoned by the original band.
From 1991’s Illusion set (I’m not counting ‘93’s the Spaghetti Incident-even though I love it) until 2009’s Chinese Democracy, Axl and company pretty much only played out-of-country gigs and hid away from the world the rest of the time.
So let’s talk about that anger…
These two bands are in their fifties now. Yeah, they are old! Even if the original Guns got back together, they wouldn’t sound the same. Axl’s voice can’t hold up. And neither can James Hetfield’s for that matter. Basically, what pisses me off when I look back now is that these two great bands missed/wasted at least 12 great years of working at their peak potential. That could have been up to six amazing records from both of them! Can you imagine if they would have stayed the course, been undisturbed, untouched by the likes of Nirvana and Soundgarden (whom I also like), but just continued on doing what they did best? If Metallica would have stayed metal? If Axl would have apologized to Slash and together they moved on to make the next Guns record(s)? My God, man! Don’t get me wrong, I fucking love what these two bands gave us, but c’mon! How do you have that much talent and waste ALL of those good years? There’s no excuse! Even if you give Metallica those crappy records they barfed out, from ’96-’08 they only put out three records (not counting the covers and symphony records). What? Yep.
So, who do you think is worse here? Metallica or Guns N’Roses? Whose post-1991 output bugs you more? GN’R is my favorite band of all time, but Metallica is right there, too. I might be more frustrated with Metallica. They had the key members to deliver this whole time (although they never should have kicked Jason out of the band). Axl was abandoned , whether it was because he was a crazy asshole or just because he was way too ambitious in what he thought Guns should ascend to, the original Guns line-up quit.
Anyways, some nights, when I’m listening to one of those classic records, this whole rant replays in my head. I thought it might be cathartic for me to let it out. Thanks for listening.
Metallica- For Whom the Bell Tolls (live)
Guns N’ Roses-Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (live)
And for a taste and hint of what Axl may have released in the late-nineties…
Guns N’ Roses- Oh My God (from the End of Days Soundtrack)