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Metallica: The First Four Albums – “Escape”

This guy has over 40 vinyl pressings of Ride the Lightning

. . .

Well, whaddya know! After years of skipping over historical punching bag “Escape”, suddenly it seems fresh.

The opening guitar harmonies are almost deal-breakingly weak. But they lead into a Kill ‘Em All-style march, as Lars Ulrich punches up the verses with cool, stuttery snares. He really shines throughout this song, with simple, strong accents that keep things moving.

Once the song gets going, it’s a respectable, mid-paced pounder. It feels a little pasted together – the four-on-the-floor breakdown at 3:12 feels limp compared to, say, “Ride the Lightning”‘s – but the parts are all memorable. What catches my ear is the four-note arpeggiated F# minor chord that ends each phrase in the chorus. It’s technically related to the chorus’ A tonality, but it still sounds odd: a pungent lash in an otherwise sweet song.

As I hear the music with fresh ears, I also read the lyrics with fresh eyes. They’re simplistic, almost like a hardcore punk song. Strangely, teenage me didn’t get with:

Out for my own, out to be free
One with my mind, they just can’t see
No need to hear things that they say
Life is for my own to live my own way

Maybe it’s because that was my default mode. I very much marched to the beat of my own drummer then. Now as an adult in Western society, I have to fit within certain time signatures, so to speak. So such idealism sounds novel in a way that I took for granted as a youth. “I don’t care now, ‘ cause I’m on my side / And I can see through you” – I’ve had a few decades to accumulate people to see through!

. . .

A Metallica fansite has built a cool database for analyzing the band’s live song selection. One feature lists how many times Metallica songs have been played live. (The three songs Metallica have played most live are “Master of Puppets” (1367 times), “Creeping Death” (1334 times)”, and “One” (1223 times).)

Out of the first four albums, Metallica have never played three songs: “The Frayed Ends of Sanity”, “To Live Is to Die”, and “Escape”. I bet “Escape” would get a good reaction now, if only for the novelty value. The siren at 3:25 after the breakdown might sound huge live. If Accept can make an entire career around mid-paced pounders, Metallica could stand to slip one in occasionally – starting with “Jump in the Fire”. Only 85 live airings in an almost three-decade career? Rectify that first, then “Escape”!

— Cosmo Lee

. . .

Metallica – “Escape”

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. . .

METALLICA: THE FIRST FOUR ALBUMS

“Trapped Under Ice”
“Fade to Black”
“For Whom the Bell Tolls”
“Ride the Lightning”
“Fight Fire With Fire”
“Metal Militia”
“Seek & Destroy”
“No Remorse”
“Phantom Lord”
“Whiplash”
“(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth”
“Jump in the Fire”
“Motorbreath”
“The Four Horsemen”
“Hit the Lights”

. . .

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