Riff University: Seek and Destroy by Metallica

All aboaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaardahahaha! Welcome to Riff University, where each week, Dr* Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler), with his PhD in Riffology** will walk you through some of the biggest, baddest and boldest riffs of all time, right from the genesis of rock and roll, to some of our future classics. By the end of this intensive course, you will be able to recognise a classic riff from the first note, make pub conversations awkwardly unbearable, and alienate Tinder matches from the word go.

*Abbreviation of “Dad Rock”
**Not a real PhD

Up This Week: Seek & Destroy by Metallica

Read Last Week’s Lecture on Passenger by Deftones here.

Your opinion on them is strong but either way, you know who they are; their albums, the hits, the members, the t-shirts, the drama. The band is a brand, and the brand is Metallica. But long before the widespread commercial success, the thronging crowds and Some Kind Of Monster (2004), a fledgling Bay Area thrash band had just thrown out their first album, Kill ‘Em All (1983).

Marrying the sounds of bands like Motörhead, Diamond Head and Blitzkreig to turbocharged tempo, Kill ‘Em All is widely regarded as a groundbreaking album for the thrash movement as one of the ‘Big Four’ bands along with Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. That being said, Kill ‘Em All is not the first thrash album: that accolade is often given to Exciter‘s Heavy Metal Maniac released in January of the same year, whereas Kill ‘Em All came out in July 1983, nearly 35 years ago.

The groundbreaking sound is what set Metallica apart from their peers in the early eighties. Whilst an album like this is familiar to us now, there must have been nothing like this in 1983. This is the sort of album that is a watershed moment; there was music before Kill ‘Em All, and then there was music after Kill ‘Em All.

The whole album, as is standard with all pre-Black Album Metallica records, is a masterpiece from front to back. Arguably one of the best ways to raise the curtain on your recording career, Hit the Lights announces Metallica right off the bat, then you have Motorbreath, Whiplash, Metal Militia, Phantom Lord and of course the masterful Cliff Burton on Anaesthesia (Pulling Teeth). However, every crown must have its jewel, and the one song that stands taller than all its peers is the legendary Seek and Destroy.

The whole purpose of Riff University is to explore the writing, meanings and impacts of the biggest, baddest and boldest riffs of all time, and in Seek and Destroy’s case, it’s a struggle to find a riff bigger, badder or bolder (please @ us if you think otherwise). Second only to Master of Puppets in terms of live play, having been played nearly, or just over 1,500 times to millions, upon millions of Metallica fans across the globe.

The opening riff is quite simply, iconic; with James Hetfield and Kirk Hammet crawling along the necks of their guitar in perfect harmony, before Cliff and Lars join in the fun. The verse is pretty simple, but to be honest, so is the riff. The real tasty bits of guitar work come into play during the three solos in the song, but the simplicity of the riff is what makes it work so well. Crowds can sing along to the riff as loud as they can the song, and THAT is what makes a riff iconic; if someone can sing the riff as well as they can sing the lyrics, you know you’ve got a major hit on your hands.

The riff, as Lars Ulrich will and has happily admitted, can be traced back to Dead Reckoning by Diamond Head, a New Wave of British Heavy Metal band that greatly inspired the young band, and you can absolutely hear the similarities between Seek and Destroy and Dead Reckoning. Of course, most of Kill ‘Em All was either written by NWOBHM bands, James Hetfield or Dave Mustaine, but bands in their early days should be allowed to write in the shadows of their inspirations, because that’s how we all learn, grow and do better, by borrowing from those who inspire us. Or massively fucking shaft their original guitarist who’s kind of a dick and cause them to start Megadeth, the edgy teenager’s choice of thrash band.

Seek and Destroy is a song that doesn’t run out of puff either, an absolute highlight of the song is right after a burning solo from a fresh-faced Kirk Hammet, and the song slows down, before bursting right back into that riff all over again for a second round.

Whilst not the original lyric, it’s hard not to resonate strongly with “Our brains are on fire with the feeling to kill // And it won’t go away ’til we drink all your beers” from the band’s 1989 performance of the song in Seattle. This video also captures the live power of Seek and Destroy, right at, arguably, the height of Metallica’s thrash metal assault; post …And Justice and pre-Black Album, the mix of a band at full tilt, capacity and power is something to truly behold. Late eighties Hetfield is beyond fucking frightening and has likely sent that ESP Explorer up someone’s arse, body first

That video just sums up Seek and Destroy: it’s a fan favorite, arguably more so than Master of Puppets, as it has closed out hundreds upon hundreds of sets; the song that allows everyone to go home happy, the song that everyone spends the whole gig excitedly bouncing around waiting for. Of course, Metallica offer a wide variety of fine thrash metal tunes that span nearly forty years, but nothing rouses the Metal Militia like the first few bars of Seek.

Lyrically, Seek and Destroy is overtly and unsubtly about wanting to kick the shit out of someone, but not actually doing it. It’s pretty obvious that the band are looking for a fight with “Scanning the scene in the city tonight // looking for you to start up a fight // there’s an evil feeling in our brains // but it’s nothing new, it drives us insane”. Which against why it makes it such a great live track, because “scanning the scene in [your city] tonight // looking for you to start up a fight” is enough to get the coldest of crowds warmed up.

Same goes for the chorus, with “Searchiiin’ // seek and destroy!” making for a fantastic call and response from Papa Het and the fans. Deliberately or totally by accident, Seek and Destroy was designed for the live Metallica show, especially with their fan-centric stage setups. Of course, the lyrics are second to the riff, but the simplicity of “Running, on our way // hiding, you will be // dying, a thousand deaths” just lets you scream it in a car, an arena or an interview, each with the same amount of aggression.

Metallica would go on to hone and develop their craft, especially with Ride the Lightning just one year later, and oh, we’ll get right into that album, but Seek and Destroy loudly heralded the arrival of your new metal overlords, and would go on to be a centrepiece of the Metallica stage show.

Guessing the Reading & Leeds 2018 Headliners

by oliver butler (@notoliverbutler)

The only enjoyable thing at the start of any year is that festival line ups are now starting to break cover, like springtime buds shooting through the freshly tilled soil. As the low winter sun burns through the clouds, bands are added to line ups, either to the excited squeals of diehard fans, or audible gulps of disappointed punters who’ve bet their summer on this.

Me, you ask? After completely blowing my load at the Download headliners for different reasons, I’ve wanted to blow chunks at everything past that. Volbeat? Fucking VOLBEAT? Furthermore, with no Glastonbury to get wet and wild at this year, I am technically festival freelance and will be calling 2000Trees my home this year.

However, what say you, dear reader? Are you holding out on the Reading & Leeds lineup being announced? To help you out, I’ve put together a little list of who you might find topping the bill over the August Bank Holiday weekend.

Disclaimer: The probability for each act comes down to how likely I think they are to headline, something that is entirely subjective – I believe each artist here is more than capable of headlining.

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Arctic Monkeys

Well, it just has to be, doesn’t it? Every other fucking festival in the known universe has managed to bag these suave simian songsmiths as a headliner, so for Andy Copping to miss out on these boys as headliners would the biggest musical foul-up since St. Anger. It’s been five long years since AM, and most of the Arctics have kept busy; frontman Alex Turner dicking about with Miles Kane in the Last Shadow Puppets, Matt Helders has been dicking about with Iggy Pop and Joshua Homme in Post Pop Depression, so all in all, a lot of dicking around has been done since AM and their 2014 headline slot at R&L.

With a whole plethora of festival dates announced for AM, plus constant tongue cluckings that new material is but a hair away from being released, don’t be surprised if the Monkeys take to the coveted Main Stage Sponsored by Tuborg – Liquid Soundtrack to the sound of a new album. Do bear in mind though that the boys have already confirmed their festival dates for 2018 and R&L is weirdly absent though this could merely be a case of keeping things under wraps for an announcement extravaganza. 

Probability Rating: Andy Copping never usually misses a trick, so for him to let AM slip by would be a huge surprise. 8/10

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Guns ‘n’ Roses

The last time GnR headlined the Carling Weekender, it went pretty fucking wrong, pretty fucking quickly. A waylaid Axl Rose showed up some thirty hours after stage time and then incited a riot after they cut the power on him. However, reunited with Slash & Duff, things seem to be a lot smoother, and the ‘Not In This Lifetime’ tour seems to be the show of a lifetime. Guns are already headlining Download this year, but big mad Andy knows that booking this band is a licence to print money, and big mad Axl knows that this tour is a licence to print money. It’s a match made in heaven!

Considering that many people’s festival plans have been cemented, R&L needs to bring in some big marquee names to try and get day punters coming through the door, and a line up consisting of either GnR or Arctic Monkeys, or both, could be enough to tip the scales for a lot of people.

Probability Rating: Quite high, but should still be considered an outside bet. 7/10

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Paramore

Rumour has it that we’ll see a complete mirror image of the 2014 lineup at the top, minus Blink 182, and few bands are more deserving of top billing than Paramore right now. After Laughter was a smash hit, and they’ve been wowing UK arena crowds in 2018 already, so for them to carry that momentum forwards into an August headline slot would be of no effort at all.

R&L also needs a strong, female-fronted headliner too. Too many festival lineups these days are a boys club, and to overlook such a solid headliner as Paramore would be beyond the pale, you hear me, Copping?! Beyond the pale.

Probability Rating: 2014 was a good year, Donald Trump was just a television sex pest instead of a sex pest who could nuke Korea. Good times, lads. 9/10.

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Queens of the Stone Age

Are QotSA still cancelled? Joshua Homme kicked a girl in the face which is an objective dick move, but I genuinely think he needs some help to be less of a cunt his whole life. Either way, with the rumour being that we’ll get a mirror image of 2014, QotSA are in pole position to headline the festival, instead of a co-headline spot with Paramore, and cancelled or not, Villains was a world-beater of an album.

Further to this, Queens are holding a little festival of their own in Finsbury Park, featuring them, obviously, Iggy Pop, The Hives, Run The Jewels and many more! I see a lot of promoted ads for it, so I don’t think it’s sold or selling out. The Hives though, and Iggy Pop.

Probability Rating: 2014 was a good year, we’d not yet gone full Tory, instead of a full Tory that’s likely going to drive us off a cliff. Good times, lads. 9/10

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CHVRCHES

ALL CAPS! CHVRCHES are clearly a new band, because they’ve had to resort to alternate vowels to find a new band name, but since their debvt they’ve been vnstoppable, with Lavra Mayberry’s soothing silky voice settling like fresh snow on their ethereal beats. With a new album on the horizon, it’s a risky business to promote anyone as yet untested up to the headline scene, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Get two veterans, like AM and GnR for instance as the ‘safe bets’, then give CHVRCHES the Saturday slot to let them spread their wings.

We gave Biffy & Foals the same chances in recent years, let’s move another great British band up the ranks now.

Probability Rating: A woman?! Headlining MY festival?! It’s more likely than you think. 6/10

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Metallica

YEAHEAHEAH. As covered earlier, Copping needs some serious firepower to get people coming through the gates, and who better than 2015 headliners Metallica to add that star power? Metallica sell arenas out worldwide and could sell a day at Reading & Leeds out with the first bar of Enter Sandman. Metallica played an arena run in 2017, but haven’t headlined a UK festival since R&L in 2015.

I’d had them as surefire Download headliners this year, but as per usual, I was wrong. Metallica are metal, yes, but their uber-corporate image has allowed them to transcend the heavy metal label & become mainstream darlings. Do NOT count this band out.

Probability Rating: I’m pretty sure I’m just booking the lineup now. 6/10.

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Wolf Alice

Much like CHVRCHES, Wolf Alice are new blood, mere wolf cubs than big adult wolves, but have absolutely set the world on fire since their debut. Visions of a Life was one of the best albums of 2017, and Ellie Rowsell’s screams would gladly rock the foundations of the Main Stage Sponsored by Volkswagen – Liquid Soundtrack to its very core.

Same principal as CHVRCHES, sandwich them between two heavyweight veterans, get people along for the weekend, let them spread their wings and prove their worth on the main stage. Nobody ever got famous for being careful.

Probability Rating: It’s a good concept, getting two heavyweights, selling people into weekend tickets and give a young’un a chance, which is why it’ll probably never happen; 5/10.

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Royal Blood

Now, there IS an outside chance that could come true. Sold out arenas across the world, two hugely popular albums, Glastonbury sub-headliners, which is basically your ticket to headline any other festival, there’s no barrier to the Brighton two-piece taking the top bill.

Setlist wouldn’t be a problem, as their UK arena setlist was essentially the first two albums but slapped like all hell. You’d be an absolute sausage to rule out these boys taking the Sunday or Friday headline slot.

Probability Rating: I know you hate them, but you can’t hate them as much as Andy Copping loves money. 7/10.

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Lorde

Another outside bet, but if two juggernauts were to top the bill, rolling the dice on someone like Lorde could pay dividends. Plus, if you end up getting two male, rock headliners, getting a female pop sensation could offer balance and something other than a rock band on one of the nights. Melodrama was a huge, huge album & she headlined the Other Stage at Glastonbury last year but curiously only did a small hall/academy tour of the UK. If you’re good enough, you’re old enough is the saying, and Lorde is more than capable of taking a headline slot.

Probability Rating: Maybe this time I’ll remember to get fucking tickets. 5/10

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Chase and Status

Genuinely not the stupidest festival rumour you’ll hear this year, Chase & Status sub-headlined to Eminem in 2013, and have their new album, Tribes, just dying to be played. With a rock-heavy lineup, Chase & Status could be the tonic in the gin that this lineup needs, with international clout, an absolute armful of hits and guest stars, it’d be madness to rule out the kings of drum & bass this August.

Probability: Actually not a bad shout, well done me. 7/10

See also: Pendulum; that’s a 2/10 chance, but have that comeback clout behind them.

Top 50 Songs of 2016

 

 

 

 

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

It’s here! Chuck those negative opinions aside as for the next week we’ll be counting down my musical highlights of the year. While 2016 was full of many negative events (US election, multiple celebrity death, suicide squad, damn daniel etc.), on the other side of the coin music was as entertaining and fascinating as ever. Hip-hop continued to demonstrate its creative power while rock and other genres revitalised themselves to provide us with some of the best singles of their respective artist’s careers.

As always we have the staple “this is my opinion” placeholder to insert before we get cracking on so if there are any songs you think are missing or should be placed higher/lower then keep in mind that this is my list. Since there are 50 tracks to go through, I’ll speed through the first 25 or so and go into a bit more detail as we reach the top 20 picks. With that being said, let’s get the ball rolling…

50. Glue 70 – Casin

49. Crywank – Love

48. Vistas – Sign Language

47. Brand New – I Am A Nightmare

46. Boston Manor -Lead Feet

45. Kevin Devine – Instigator

44. SBTRKT – Let Them In

43. Run The Jewels – Talk To Me

42. Fake Boyfriend – Bumtown

41. Parquet Courts – Dust

40. Pale Kids – Not Listening

39. Blink-182 – Cynical

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tC97caHUgKk

38. Weezer – Jacked Up

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJOsRoY-na0

37. Frightened Rabbit – Die Like A Rich Boy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=es8wQcKrrhA

36. Jamie T- Tescoland

35. Hovvdy – Try Hard

34. Honeyblood – Love Is A Disease

33. Skepta – Man

32. Metallica – Spit Out The Bone

31. Young Thug – RiRi

30. Enter Shikari – Hoodwinker

29. Touche Amore – Displacement

28. Kendrick Lamar – untitled 03

27. Biffy Clyro – In The Name Of The Wee Man

26. Sweet White – Genine

https://soundcloud.com/sweet-white/genine-1

25. Joyce Manor – Eighteen

24. Death Grips – 3 Bedrooms In A Good Neighborhood 

23. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Dark Necessities 

22. Twin Atlantic – Gold Elephant, Cherry Alligator

21. Mean Jeans – Michael Jackson Was Tight

20. The 1975 – Somebody Else

Trust me, I’m just as surprised as you that The 1975 are making an appearance on this list. Whilst their latest album was a double-edged sword, only just managing to provide more killer than filler, when the band delivered something good it was really fucking good. See Somebody Else for example, a song that dabbles into the topic of modern day romance that frontman, with the hand of some vocal manipulation, executes brilliantly.

19. Charli XCX – Trophy

The ultimate pump up song of 2016, Charli XCX continues her reign as one of the most likeable female vocalists in music right now with a fantastic combination of 00’s club music and peculiar beats.

18. Radiohead – Daydreaming

Beautifully minimalistic and driven solely by piano alongside some glitzy chimes with a Jamie XX flare to them, Daydreaming was the standout track on Radiohead’s triumphant return A Moon Shaped Pool: a calm, borderline lullaby that dips its toes in fearsome waters before diving head first into them during the climax.

17. Bon Iver – 33 “GOD”

Showing off the majority of 22, A Million’s religious subtext, 33 “GOD” is a showcase of Bon Iver’s experimental take on their latest record packaged alongside the delicate rock they’ve mastered since their debut For Emma, Forever Ago.

16. Blood Orange – Best To You

Providing some of the best R&B in recent memory, Blood Orange’s Freetown Sound hit its peak four tracks in with Best To You. Featuring a stunning vocal performance from Empress Of, Dev Hynes showed off just how good he is at mixing production and songwriting together.

15. Real Friends – Mess

A pop punk song that has lyrics that manage to be fresh for the act due to being about something other than a break up?! Revolutionary! All jokes aside, the crisp production value along with a catchy as all hell chorus makes the track feel like Real Friends have been working hard on their songwriting capabilities since their debut record and, despite what they’re saying in the public eye, are making efforts to progress as a band.

14. Codist – Puddle

Glasgow band Codist came out with their debut record all the way back in January and continued to be one of my favourites throughout 2016. My personal favourite track off of Nuclear Family had to be Puddle that harks back to Blackened Sky era Biffy with some equally beautiful lyrics about “why you can feel your insides glow”.

13. Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein – Stranger Things

The shortest track by far on this list, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein’s titular theme tune to Netflix’s surprise hit series Stranger Things is, much like the show itself, a total love letter to 80’s electronica with ominous synths lulling you into a sense of dread.

12. American Football – My Instincts Are The Enemy

Showing that the band still had what it takes to retain relevance in a genre that has long since evolved since their one and only record, American Football showed they deserve all the praise they get with their second LP. My Instincts Are The Enemy is a testament to the intricacy this band can provide with just three instruments, pulling off smooth and satisfying tempo changes and delivering beautiful lyrics as if they had never been away.

11. Schoolboy Q – Groovy Tony 

Schoolboy Q may have given us a pretty lacklustre LP in 2016 but he made sure we weren’t left empty handed with Groovy Tony, drenched in eerie production and driven by one of the most aggressive sounding flows in hip-hop.

10. Frank Ocean – Nikes

WE IN THE TOP 10 NOW BABY! The musical Where’s Waldo Mr Frank Ocean returned this year with his long awaited Blonde that kicks off with one of the strongest tracks of his career. Nikes modifies Ocean’s vocals into unrecognisable territory, delivering lines about lost ones and consumerism with a minimalistic background which needs to be listened to for it to be fully experienced.

9. Danny Brown – When It Rain

Not only did Detroit’s prodigal son Danny Brown deliver the best record of his career, arguably one of the greatest hip-hop albums in the past decade, but he managed to shake up his tried and tested sound on top of that. Much like Groovy Tony, When It Rain cranks up that ominous notch up to 11 and packs the visceral imagery to back it up.

8. Moose Blood – Knuckles

Arguably the best track Mooseblood have delivered thus far, Knuckles embodies everything the band have been great at since their debut: providing a killer hook with beautiful lyrics and vocals. While the majority of the band’s sophomore effort is far more grounded in pessimism, Knuckles seems to hit a major realist chord and wonderfully so.

7. PUP – DVP

Unlike other acts of the genre who do a lot of rocking but very little growing up, PUP manage to nail the topic of maturity on DVP which flows seamlessly on from the aforementioned If This Tour… into an even more anthemic style on record The Dream Is Over. Addressing how they handle issues, in this case getting “so drunk that I can’t speak”, as well as others telling them to grow up, the track manages to keep a positive vibe going in its instrumentals whilst juggling some of the darker lyrics on here.

6. James Blake ft Bon Iver – I Need A Forest Fire

While James Blake’s latest record was sub par at best, there was a diamond in the rough in the form of I Need A Forest Fire. Combining Bon Iver’s beautiful vocals alongside Blake’s versatile singing is a genius concept and is wonderfully executed, managing to explore the .topic of new beginnings with total ease.

5. Chance The Rapper – Blessings

It’s hard to argue that 2016 belonged to anyone but if I had to place a bet on it, my money would be on Chance The Rapper. Colouring Book was one of the most enjoyable listens of the year with bucketloads of optimism and hope in a year that very much needed it. Blessings pretty much embodies the album’s core message better than any other track does. A gospel influence is felt not only in its sound but its lyrical content: lines about redemption, fatherhood and faith are subtle with the main hook from Jamila Woods being infectiously catchy.

4. Childish Gambino – Redbone

No artist this year transformed quite like Childish Gambino. Swapping out hip-hop for funk/soul/R&B music is an impossible risk but Gambino somehow survived the transition, quality intact. Redbone shows this perfectly, displaying a wonderful use of vocoder and the aforementioned funk element that made Awaken My Love one of the most refreshing listens of 2016.

3. David Bowie – Lazarus

The loss of David Bowie was one of many celebrity deaths to occur in 2016 but was the one that no doubt hit the hardest. Lazarus pretty much acts as a foreshadowing to it all with lyrics such as “look up here, I’m in heaven” managing to evoke a tear or two out of even the most casual Bowie fan. While it may be a difficult listen considering the context, Lazarus stood out well before the passing of Bowie, providing the perfect balance of instrumentals and Bowie’s unique vocals.

2. The Weeknd – Starboy

Before we get into the top pick of this list, we have but one more track to praise, that being The Weeknd’s Starboy which features on the RnB superstar’s eponymously titled record. Featuring a backing beat that sounds like a less feisty but equally enjoyable Yeezus feature, the partnership with Daft Punk means it’s no real surprise that Starboy finds itself so high up on a best tracks of 2016 list.

1. Kanye West – Real Friends

While The Life of Pablo was an enjoyable albeit messy release, it undoubtedly features the best song Kanye West has released since Runaway. Real Friends puts Mr West in his most vulnerable position since My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as he voices his guilt regarding friends and family over a beautifully tragic sounding beat. Think Aphex Twin entwined with heartbreak. The song ends with a poignant howl that evokes the same sadness and, in a way, isolation that we have become accustomed to with Kanye’s more personal tracks. Sources say that when the track was first released, the title was missing the word “friends”. In a twisted way, it’s both a relief to hear Kanye sounding the most real he has in years whilst it’s also uncomfortable to witness the inner turmoil he’s experiencing that has only since got worse with his recent inauguration into a psychiatric ward.

 

 

 

 

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