In 2016, the album is almost a lost art form. We live in a streaming and singles world, and the sequencing and flow of an album is something that’s not paid as much attention to as it has been in the past. Regardless, there’s no better way to set the tone for what’s about to come than the first song on an album, and Metallica have been masters (masters!) of this for a long time now. With that in mind, we thought we’d rank the opening songs from Metallica’s ten albums, some of which would find their way on to a list of the top ten Metallica songs overall.
10) “That Was Just Your Life” (from Death Magnetic)
There are two kinds of openers on Metallica albums; ones that jump right out at you and ones that take their time. There’s nothing wrong with either. For the latter, the acoustic guitar that starts “Battery” or the swelling walls of guitars that kick off “Blackened” are excellent ways to start off a Metallica album. Not so much with “That Was Just Your Life.” The seven-minute song takes nearly a minute to start, beginning with a faint heartbeat. When it finally gets up to full speed, it’s, well, it’s just ok. There’s nothing particularly compelling about the rest of the song, and while there are certainly memorable songs on Death Magnetic, this isn’t one of them.
9) “Ain’t My Bitch” (from Load)
Kicking off the much-maligned mid-’90s Load/ReLoad era, this pretty much confirms the mediocrity of the two albums that were to follow. The opening riff in the verse is pretty catchy, but there’s no there there. Also, it would be a little higher on the list if it wasn’t for us docking James Hetfield even a few more points for pronouncing bitch as “Bitch-uhhh.”
8) “Frantic” (from St. Anger)
This should rank last, because it’s the lead-in to one of the band’s most unpopular albums, and listening back to the production, it’s as raw as the band’s nerves were when they recorded it. Also, it has the lyrics “my lifestyle determines my deathstyle” and “fran tic tic tic tic,” both of which are some really dumb. However, they’re memorable, so that raises it a notch or two. A Metallica album without a single solo from two excellent guitarists is like an exercise in patience.