There’s no denying the sustained influence, impact and importance of Metallica over the last 35 years. They’ve recorded over 150 songs, almost all of which deserve a place in their setlist. It’s an extraordinary hit-rate, but which are their comparative misfires? As usual, covers don’t count (not that any would be eligible), nor do collaborations (Lulu breathes a sigh of relief), and this one might polarise the generations – so if you were introduced to Metallica with Load when you were 12, you might even prefer Ronnie to Metal Militia (bless). Still, here are 10 of the arguably-least-brilliant Metalli-cuts.
10. Where The Wild Things Are
The lyrics and themes of this Reload deep cut – Jason Newsted’s sole co-writing credit from the Load era – suggest a soporific quality, but promising attempts at a subdued nocturnal atmosphere don’t really go anywhere on this uneventful snoozefest. Never played live, it sounds faintly like Metallica sleep-wrote it during a dream in which they were Alice In Chains.
9. Don’t Tread On Me
This always stuck out as a rare pile of whiffy American spray cheese among the sublime, hallowed grooves of The Black Album. From the cringeworthy appropriation of Leonard Bernstein’s jaunty America melody from West Side Story, to the flag-waving World Police lyrics, no wonder Hetfield once confessed to Playboy that this was “not one of my favourites”.
With its squeaky, skronky comedy riff and Hetfield’s grumbling hillbilly spoken word section, this arid, sub-Skynyrd, faux-Southern shuffle was one of the most controversial and laughable tracks on Load, not least because the new-look Metallicats had written a song called Ronnie. What next, Slayer doing a track called Barry? Exodus naming a song Dave? Anaal Nathrakh releasing a Keith seven-inch? We’ll stop.
7. Hate Train
The risibly-titled Hate Train sounds like it was put together by a computer using a Metallica song algorithm app; Fuel is the obvious template for the vehicular riff, but the whole song sounds over-familiar and under-written, the Beyond Magnetic opener raising suspicions that the EP was a recycling bin for rightly rejected album material.
In 1996, Load was an instantly divisive album (largely thanks to the dolled-up inlay photos), but many initially reviled songs have justly settled into post-thrash Metalli-classics. Never played live, Cure doesn’t egregiously soil the band’s mid-90s legacy, but it does nothing new or interesting, a nondescript plodder padding the CD out to maximum length.
- Metallica: "We hate each other, and we love each other"
- Metallica's James Hetfield: My Life Story
- The 10 least-played Metallica songs
- Metallica’s Top 10 Best Cover Songs
5. The Unforgiven III
The Unforgiven II has many detractors, but it just about managed to subtly interweave themes from the original into a distinct but complementary musical setting. Whereas this Death Magnetic momentum-sapper is connected to the earlier songs in name only, seemingly used as a hook to artificially breathe life into an otherwise forgettable, pedestrian ballad with over-eager soloing.
If you haven’t dug out Reload for a few years, you’ve probably forgotten this song ever existed. It sounds like Metallica had by this point played Enter Sandman so many times, its riff embedded so deep in their psyche, that it subconsciously re-emerged in another form without any of them noticing, albeit lazily snapped off and tossed away.
3. Some Kind Of Monster
St Anger quickly became Metallica’s easiest target, with its ‘trash can drums’ and the well-documented mid-life crisis that coloured its creation, but the impulse to reach for new ideas and sounds was grudgingly admirable. This song, however, trudged in circles for a pointlessly bloated run-time, with bog-standard sub-Load riffs, lumpen arrangements and a weak afterthought of a chorus.
2. I Disappear
A thin, simplistic and repetitive smear of corporate rock mediocrity, from the sloppy, lightweight alt-rock riffing and interminable wah-wah to the over-processed redneck vocals and witless “hey hey hey” lyrics – although entirely appropriate for the soundtrack of a lobotomised Hollywood blockbuster. Jason Newsted disappeared shortly after I Disappear’s release, and who can blame him?
1. Invisible Kid
Pacing goes astray again on this ungainly St Anger low-point, aimlessly meandering for eight-and-a-half minutes with some of Metallica’s dumbest, dullest, most disposable riffs. James’ vocal melody sounds like he’s hastily improvising a fragment of an idea into a dictaphone, and his voice sounds unrecognisably weak and silly on the line “Ooh, what a quiet boy you are”.