Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Metallica

  • Master of Puppets [Elektra, 1986] B-
  • . . . And Justice for All [Elektra, 1988] C+
  • Metallica [Elektra, 1991] Dud
  • Load [Elektra, 1996] C+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Master of Puppets [Elektra, 1986]
I feel at a generational disadvantage with this music not because my weary bones can't take its power and speed but because I was born too soon to have my dendrites rerouted by progressive radio. This band's momentum can be pretty impressive, and as with a lot of fast metal (as well as some sludge) they seem to have acceptable political motivations--antiwar, anticonformity, even anticoke, fine. But the revolutionary heroes I envisage aren't male chauvinists too inexperienced to know better; they don't have hair like Samson and pecs like Arnold Schwarzenegger. That's the image Metallica calls up, and I'm no more likely to invoke their strength of my own free will than I am The 1812 Overture's. B-

. . . And Justice for All [Elektra, 1988]
Problem isn't that it's more self-conscious than Master of Puppets, which is inevitable when your stock in trade is compositions not songs. Problem is that it goes on longer--which is also inevitable when your stock in trade is compositions not songs. Just ask Yes. C+

Metallica [Elektra, 1991] Dud

Load [Elektra, 1996]
One of the nice things about being old is that I'm neither wired to like metal nor tempted to fake it. Just as I figured, these here-come-the-new-heroes-same-as-the-old-heroes could no more make a "grunge" album than they could do double-entry bookkeeping. Grunge simply isn't their metier. So no matter what riff neatniks think, for outsiders this is just a metal record with less solo room, which is good because it concentrates their chops, and more singing, which isn't because they can't. C+