I recently told the story of the first time I heard Metallica to some folks down here that fawning over the "Black" album. The Bastard (A.K.A Some kind of Bastard) brought home a tape dubbed for him by a friend in school, (I want to say it was Rafi but The Bastard (A.K.A The Great American Bastard) can check my facts), it contained "kill 'Em All" and "Ride the Lightning." While listening to the tape, I can remember saying to myself that I had never heard something so fierce in my life. It blew anything I had been listening to at the time out of the tape deck. They were pissed, drunk and ready to crack skulls and it rang true. I remember a Sunday evening driving home from the big house in Strongs Neck listening to Metal Shop on WBAB and learning that Cliff Burton had died in a bus accident while on tour in Europe. That news was as shocking aas learning John Lennon was shot or that Marvin Gaye was murdered by his father, in each instance I knew at that very moment that I would never anything of their like again. Growing up the youngest I was exposed to the Beatles by the folks and my brothers, and I always wondered if they would ever find a way to get back together, that ended when Lennon died. Eating breakfast before school one morning, after just recently being exposed to the greatness that is Marvin Gaye, I found out that a domestic dispute between his farther and him ended with a bullet in his chest. Brother, brother, brother I hardly knew ya'. When Cliff died so did the soul of Metallica. While my brothers and i discussed at the time whether or not the band could go on, I think we all knew it was over no matter what came next for them. My last great memory of Metallica was at my very first concert, the Monsters of Rock at Giants Stadium in 1986. The Bastard (A.K.A C.E.O. of Bastards R Us) and I ventured to within 20 feet or so from the stage, this was before the tradgedy of floor seating. As we waited through a painful set from Kingdom Come, the crowd around us began to grow to almost an uncomfortable level and I won't lie, at the age of 13 at my first show I began to shit my pants. Metallica was next and the crowd around us sweeled with anticipation. As the band ripped into "Creeping Death" a large mosh pit opened up around us, I grabbed the bottom of my brother's denim vest and hung on for 45 minutes of Metallica's requiem, they would never be the same after that day. We come to find out later in life that Lars Ullrich is really an asshole on wheels, and James Hettfield became so enamored with the alcohol that had fueled him for so long that he had to give it up, and Kirk Hammett was the poor sould that had to be the go-between for a cat fight that would last for the next 15 years. Their music after Cliff's death became at best contrived and retread (e.g. Re-Load). Even Jason Newstead, Burton's replacement, got the picture and walked out on the boys a couple of years back. I enjoyed watching "Some Kind of Monster" simply because it offered answers to why Metallica watered themselves down. That and for the sheer anticipation that Dave Mustaine would stick a boot in Ullrich's ass. It seems the real friends of this mayhem were Hettfield and Mustaine but Ullrich found away to come between them. But more than that it was a comment that one of the bands representatives had said upon hearing tracks from their latest opus, "St. Anger." To paraphrase, he told the band that he hadn't heard that kind of energy since Cliff died. And there you have it, something I had been saying since I hear "And Justice For All." Now "St. Anger" is a a far cry from "Ride The Lightning," (my personal favorite from the Cliff days), but at least they seemed to get the point. It's a shame that it took 20 years to figure it out. You guys would never be the smae without Cliff and you shoud have hung it up the moment that teenage girls held up a lighter when you played "One." R.I.P fellas, "puss, fag, sluts!"