Guitar Hero: Metallica

I’ll admit, I am a die-hard Metallica fan, and have been for since my early days of Junior High.  In a time of self discovery and becoming less of a product of my parents and more of a individual, I was introduced to Metallica’s firey guitar licks, thundering double-bass riff and raw lyrics that send chills down my spine each time I screamed at the top of my lungs to release the pent up rage I felt when growing up with the injustices of the world.


So, I was hook on Metallica.  I studied them, learned their history, with the beginnings of Lars, James and Dave Mustaine (later to form Megadeth), Ron McGovney, to the tragic loss of Cliff Burton; which almost lead to the demise of the entire band in the mid-80’s.  But they prevailed, they continued through the darkest of dark times and their music captured that feeling.  I remember the haunting lyrics from a passed Cliff Burton off the “And Justice For All” album, track “To Live is to Die” which says, “When a man lies, he murders some part of the world…  Cannot the kingdom of salvation take me home?”  How does that not captivate you?  I feel even the lyrical genius Leonard Cohen would struggle to come up with something better.


In the tale of two-halves commonly known as “Pre-Black Album” and “Post Black Album”, Metallica, like ALL long standing bands, have changes their sound and song style as an evolutionary process with the times.  For reasons I cannot understand, this “change” is uncomfortable with many die-hard fans of the like.  They are referred as “sell-outs”, or “going soft, weak”, thinking that all bands must stay in one style they started with an should never expand themselves from that box we as fans put them in.  No one raises cain or throws a fit for the band KISS when their hard-rock sound changed in the 70’s to fit the Disco era.  Just look at the song, “I was made for loving you.”  It’s is Disco at its finest, but no on hears people bitching.  Why is that?  What about Led Zeppelin not allowing movies to license their music to movies?  Do people beat down the door of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page and call them weak for protecting their music?  We create such a double standard; and it’s horrible.


After Metallica’s whole Napster incident, they were the labeled the black sheep of all bands because of the lawsuit of illegal downloads.  For that I say, “good for them.”  Buy the music people.  Support your musicians.  The artists should be compensated for their works.  Your beef shouldn’t be with Metallica, but with the record companies failing to recognize the ever changing model of the music industry and electronic distribution.  I should also let you know that in a former life, I was Disc-jockey and I can tell you, without music, even the cheesy artist such as Vanilla Ice, it’s tough to throw a great party.


Now, I heard from the Pogo-peeps of a Guitar Hero: Metallica in the making for 2009?  Wow, I am really not sure what to say about that except for maybe, “Good Luck to the developers at Activision.”  I am sure that all fans would come to expect that the GH:M game should focus on the songs “pre-black” that we fans have come known as our favorites.  I feel that Activision will have a difficult time trying to replicate the authentic sounds of Kirk Hammet in songs like “Whiplash”, “Master of Puppets”, “Seek and Destroy”, “Fade to Black”, “One”, “And Justice for All” and the list goes on and on.  Now that GH allows Bass guitar, will it include such Bass solos as “(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth” or the epic instrumentals like “The Call of Ktulu”, “Orion”, or “To Live is to Die”.  Can Activation recreate this in the scrolling-button-pushing arena of Guitar Hero and be even remotely close to the real thing?  I have a feeling that it won’t.  If GH does it right, ALL songs from ALL albums should be in this game; from the ballad of “Nothing Else Matters”, to the two-hundred-ten-beats-per-minute second-half of “Whiplash”.  If they are going to do it, they need to do it right.


But if someone is going to spend the time trying to master these songs via the 4-button controller, why not just pickup a real guitar and learn the real songs?  Mastering a “Trash’em” song in Guitar Hero makes you a geek, mastering a “Thrash’em” song with 6-strings through a Marshal Amplifier makes you a God.  I feel that if people are going to label Metallica a sell-out for allowing the folks at Activision to create a GH featuring them, then everyone that offered their songs in the previous version of GH should also be called a sell-out; after all, what’s the difference between tracks from multiple artists in a single game versus multiple songs from a single artist in the same game?


If people call Metallica sell-outs, they are right, they do sell-out…  every concert they play.  No Napster incident, no “bad album”, no media coverage, rehab-incident, etc has stopped Metallica from creating music or continuing to go on tour since 1983.  If Activision wants to create a game, featuring one of the hardest to duplicate musical style-bands of all times, then go ahead and let them.  This could be Activision’s crowning achievement.  If this venture succeeds, perhaps it is a turning point in the GH world and maybe something great comes from it.  However, if it fails, perhaps this will finally end the GH series with nothing more than a “Fade to Black”.

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