Thanksgiving is over, but that doesn’t mean we need to stop reflecting on what’s best in life. In today’s Sunday Sesh, you’re going to spill the beans on an album that has had a huge impact on your life. Grab your hankies and crank those sentimental tunes. It’s time for the nitty gritty.
It could be an album that has had a deep emotional impact on you. It could be the album that reminds you of the happiest moments of your life. It could be an album that recalls dear loved ones. It could be the album that got you into metal. Or, it could just be your favorite album of all time, the one to which you find yourself perpetually called back, like an a sailor drawn by an intangible siren song. The parameter doesn’t matter. Your reason does. Bare your soul.
As cliche as it is, I’d have to say that the album for which I’m most grateful is Metallica‘s …And Justice For All.
Scene: A young high school student is riding in a dusty pick-up truck on a rainy day, driving to another job site. Empty Mountain Dew bottles bounce against empty cans of Copenhagen on the passenger seat. The young man sits in the back seat of the crew cab truck, a warped and filthy cowboy hat next to him. His shirt is stained with mud, and holes are ripped in his jeans from the day’s labor. The mood is a bit somber. The rain means that the young man will likely be cut loose at the end of the day, meaning less money saved for buying that pick-up truck, his first vehicle. The job has been a grind lately. He’s looking forward to the end of summer, to school starting again, to driving and dating and all the possibilities that a new year will bring after the terrible last academic year. Suddenly, his older brother, the haggard-looking man in his twenties in the driver’s seat, looks over at his coworker, another cowboy hat-bedecked laborer in the passenger seat.
L.: Hey, let’s put on some Metallica.
J., the passenger, reaches into a dusty CD case beneath the seat and pulls out a burned copy of …And Justice For All and pops it into the stereo. He skips ahead a few tracks. A clean, somber guitar riff suddenly oozes out of the speakers, instantly catching the young man’s attention. The music is grey like the dam of clouds about to burst above their heads. But there’s something more to it, something intriguing, elusive, seductive.
The young man listens, transfixed as a tale of war-time sorrow and grief unfolds. Suddenly, the clean guitar riff succumbs to the merciless machine-gun blast of a double-bass drum and steely riff. The sky tears open, and for a moment, the entire world is washed away in a deluge of metal and emotion, the young man’s mind drifting deeper and deeper beneath the waves that had been threatening to consume him for the entire year. He had never heard anything like this. The anger, the aggression, that raw pain and fury at injustice and misfortune. He had never heard anything like this, but it resonated with him and all that had transpired in his heart for the last year. He was drowning, yet suddenly there was a light, a buoy, a single glimpse of the sun through the darkness of the abyssal deep. For the next few moments, he surrendered to the waves but never lost sight of that light.
“One” was the first song by Metallica that I ever heard, and I can stake my love of heavy metal purely on that track. Over the next couple of years, as I wrapped up high school, fought depression, and hoped for a bright future, …And Justice For All was always a companion. From the naked vulnerability of “To Live Is to Die” to the pummeling darkness of “Harvester of Sorrow”, Justice resonated with me like no single piece of music ever had before. It kicked open a door that has never since closed, and without the impact that that album had on me, I would likely not be here, writing for this extreme metal blog.
The music has stayed with me. It reminds me of a young man learning responsibility and heartache and fear. Yet it also reminds me of hard work, pride, and hope. Perhaps most importantly, though, it reminds me of my brother, one of the men whom I respect most in this world.
And that is why I am thankful for …And Justice For All.
So tell me. Which album are you most thankful for?