Metallica Releasing Demos on Vinyl: Four Songs We'd Rather Have

Metallica Releasing Demos on Vinyl: Four Songs We'd Rather Have

Heavy-metal senior citizens Metallica announced late last week that they would be jumping in on the Record Store Day action April 21 with a vinyl release of four half-finished songs that have been available online since December.

A statement from the band says they "kept them in the vault and decided to pull them out... as gift [sic] to our closest fans," but we've heard the four songs, which are rough mixes from Death Magnetic sessions. You can sample them on YouTube ("Hate Train," "Just a Bullet Away," "Hell and Back," and "Rebel of Babylon"), but it wasn't hard for County Grind to come up with four others that have never been released on vinyl that we'd much rather hear playing on the gramophone.

1. "Blackened," from Live Shit: Binge & Purge

An awesome live track, if only because it proves that it's actually possible for four people to handle the song's ridiculous tempo and time signature changes while running around flinging their hair all over the place. Bonus points if the album art includes James' "EET FUK" Explorer or him wearing Cliff's ring.

The track also has Jason Newsted's terrifying growls for backing vocals, which brings us to...

2. "Whiplash," from Live Shit: Binge and Purge
The Seattle stop on the "Damaged Justice" tour yielded a pile of great tracks, but this one's got Newsted singing a verse (The "Here we go!" at 2:53? Best hide under your bed.) and James Hetfield replacing the word "whiplash" with "dick rash."

Plus, Hetfield's vocals are far grittier here than they were on the album -- the threat of car-crash-themed neck injuries seems a much more real possibility than when some kids in leather pants recorded it in '83. A few tracks from this concert were on the The Good, the Bad & the Live vinyl release, but neither "Whiplash" nor "Blackened" were included.

3. "Dyer's Eve" from Français Pour Une Nuit
The band released a concert DVD in France in 2009 from a concert at the Arena of Nîmes; it wasn't released in America, or anywhere on vinyl, and this version of the ...And Justice for All closer is excellent proof that Metallica can still play a heavy riff or two, and Hetfield's rhythm playing sounds far cleaner here than it did on this list's first item.

Robert Trujillo still looks pretty doofy, but Hetfield's old-man vocal style brings something new to the song.

4. "For Whom the Bell Tolls," live in Moscow '91
A few tracks from the behemoth concert at Tushino Airfield were released as vinyl B-sides, but this one was left out. The track needs some crowd noise (a million people silent Metallica fans?), but the track's iconic "It's the last time you will..." line has never sounded better. One of the best live tracks from a band that's had some unbelievable live tracks.

None of the new stuff got any love in this list -- maybe it's that Metallica simply doesn't sound as good 25 years later, or maybe it's just a misplaced demand for the band to relive its heyday rather than promote its more recent material. Either way, I'd be much more inclined to buy a record with any of these tracks on it than one that leads off with something called "Hate Train."

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