Metallica: Garage Inc.

Metallica: Garage Inc.

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Metallica

Album: Garage Inc.
Label: Elektra

Metallica's transformation from a cultish metal act into one of the most popular stadium bands of the '90s has been fascinating to witness, though many longtime fans would argue that the progression has come at the expense of ferocious power and challenging arrangements. While heavily produced for maximum sonic force, and occasionally excellent, Metallica's huge-selling '90s albums (Metallica, Load, and Re-Load) do lack the epic range and explosiveness of their predecessors. So, taking a cue from its classic, heavily bootlegged, long-out-of-print 1987 covers EP Garage Days Re-Revisited, the group returns again to its roots with Garage Inc. Of course, now that Metallica is one of the biggest bands in the world, that knocked-out-overnight covers album arrives in two-disc, 135-minute form, complete with a big, fat booklet and—bless you, boys—the Garage Days EP in its entirety. And while you wouldn't call Garage Inc. essential, it's hard to criticize a set that features every cover Metallica has ever recorded, including numerous B-sides, four Motörhead songs, and 11 new tracks. The Garage Days reissue may be the selling point for embittered old-school fans, but even those people should enjoy hearing the Metallica of 1998 freewheelingly knocking out old favorites, including such unlikely entries as Bob Seger's "Turn The Page" (already a hit single), Nick Cave's "Loverman," Thin Lizzy's awesome "Whiskey In The Jar," and an 11-minute Mercyful Fate medley. That's not to say there isn't some pointless filler here: A nine-minute cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Tuesday's Gone" goes nowhere, despite (or perhaps because of) guest appearances by Les Claypool, John Popper, and Jerry Cantrell. But for the most part, Garage Inc. is a fine, surprisingly comprehensive document that nicely transcends the disposability that would seem inherent in its concept.