Ten studio albums and almost 40 years into its career, Metallica has a lot of material, and not all of it is great.
Artists are oftentimes their own biggest critics and hear things in their own music that fans might not perceive. And no one has heard more Metallica music than the members of Metallica.
Drummer Lars Ulrich was recently asked by Vulture if there is a Metallica song he never wants to hear again. Ulrich named one classic track that still makes it into the live set from time to time.
He said he feels like the band ultimately missed the mark on 1988's "Eye of the Beholder."
"Whenever I hear that song, it sounds kind of like — I guess we don't want to be super-disrespectful to it — but it sounds really forced," Ulrich said. "It sounds like you put a square peg in a round hole. It sounds like it’s got two different tempos. There’s kind of a 4/4 feel in the intro and on the verses, and then I think the choruses are more like in a waltz tempo. It literally sounds like two different worlds rubbing up against each other. It sounds very awkward to me. I’m not a huge fan of that song."
But as the band's defense of the controversial mix on ...And Justice for All has shown, Metallica believes each album is a moment. "Eye of the Beholder" might not have succeeded in Ulrich's eyes, but he acknowledges that he must have believed in it at the time.
“I guess the asterisk is that, to me, we did the best we could each moment," Ulrich continued. "So of course, sometimes you sit down and go ‘Huh?’ or ‘That could have been better’ or ‘That was a little awkward’ or ‘That feels a little silly or easy’ or ‘That feels over-thought-out’ or whatever. It goes back to that whole thing about the past is the past, and I don’t spend a long time back there. And there’s not really much I can do about it [laughs] and honestly, I don’t listen to them. I don’t listen to a lot of Metallica music."
It's hard not to get caught up in the details when he listens to music he helped create, he said. But music is about escape. Performing live is one thing, but listening to the record at home is more of an "exercise in analytics."
"When you hear your favorite band — like if I listened to Rage Against the Machine or something, I just f---ing let myself go. But when Metallica comes on it's like, 'Huh?'"
"Eye of the Beholder" might have its rough spots, but there's definitely Metallica songs that missed the mark far more significantly. The difference is (in most cases) those songs aren't from one of the band's most beloved albums.
Ulrich's choice is also pretty ironic, considering he reportedly meddled so much with the mix of the ...And Justice for All album that engineers Steve Thompson and Toby Wright nearly quit the project.
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