The Sound Of The Deadly Raptors

On a recent cross-country flight, the $4 movie was the Jurassic Park

sequel, The Lost World. For some perverse reason, I decided to

forgo the sound and just watch the flick as if it were an old silent movie. In

retrospect, I wish I'd had a copy of Metallica's steel-toed Re-Load,

because the often ominous, primordial hard rock that the band delivers

throughout most of the album would have provided the perfect soundtrack

for the stalking of humans by deadly Raptors.

Re-Load -- despite its title, which might make some think that these

are the leftovers that didn't cut it the first time around, when the group

settled on the Load song line-up -- is a hard rock masterpiece that

includes tracks that will likely be considered classics in a few years. Take

"Where the Wild Things Are," which has that nightmare dreamstate vibe

that made "Enter Sandman" so compelling. Or the offbeat first single, "The

Memory Remains," with a "na na na na na" vocal from Marianne Faithfull

that features a simple guitar riff boring through anything in its path, the

rhythm section careening along like drunken soldiers looking to mess with

someone.

I'll be the first to admit that I don't know what the hell most of these songs

are actually about. Frankly, I'm not sure I want to know. I mean when

you're cranking "Bad Seed" so loud the car stereo speakers are distorting

and the car feels like it's going to vibrate into pieces, the finer points that a

screaming James Hetfield is making by way of the lyrics somehow

seem beside the point.

When a lyric does rise above the rampage-like noise, it's something like

"There's a black cloud overhead/ That's me." Bad trip? You bet.

I figure it like this. You got four guys, usually wearing black, usually

glaring from their photos. You got molten guitar so nasty it threatens to

incinerate your speakers and anything else in the vicinity. You got drums so

live and in your face that if you close your eyes, you'll swear Lars Ulrich is

in the room with you. And you got Hetfield singing like he stomps on

innocent children for kicks. You really need to know what "Devil's Dance"

is about? Or "Slither"?

When Metallica aren't barreling along Dead Man's Curve in the rock

equivalent of an old Chevy pick-up with the license plates obscured by skull

and crossbones, scaring the living daylights out of ya on the album's

denouement, the eight minute, fourteen second "Fixxxer," they take a

couple of breathers and venture into ... country-rock and ballad territory.

"The Unforgiven II" could be covered by Waylon Jennings (one of

Hetfield's heroes), and "Low Man's Lyric" is one of those power ballads

the guys will want to skip, but the girls will play over and over and over.

Don't miss the pretty guitar courtesy of Kirk Hammett.

Consider those numbers "experiments," then dig into "Attitude," in which

Hetfield notes that "I sleep at the wheel." And before I forget it, that epic

"Fixxxer" takes another look at the classic we're-puppets-being-

manipulated-by-some-puppet-master theme. "Jab another pin, jab another

pin in me," screams Hetfield. Then, taking a time-honored the-rat-has-

turned-rebel stance: "No more pins in me, no more, no more pins in me."

Metallica have stubbornly walked their own path since they released Kill

'Em All nearly a decade and a half ago. By now, you either love 'em,

hate 'em, or don't think about 'em. But for those who have pledged

allegiance to the black flag, for those who have tattooed the secret logo onto

their forearms, who have slammed in the pit and have thrilled to Master

of Puppets, ... And Justice For All, Metallica and the

rest, Re-Load will not disappoint. And after all, really, how can ya

resist an album that includes a lyric like "So wash your face away with dirt/

It don't feel good until it hurts." Not I.