Metallica--"Best of" collection?

My wife is wondering if there’s a Metallica album which collects (what somebody thinks is) their best stuff from over the years.

I googled and didn’t come up with anything.

Anyone know of such a thing?


They don’t have a “Best of” collection. The best you could probably do is Metallica S&M which is an assortment of “greatest hits” performed live with a symphony orchestra.

S&M is one of the best concert albums I’ve ever heard. I really like it.

Call me crazy if you must, but I don’t think it’s very likely Metallica will be putting out a compilation anytime soon. If you can’t imagine why, consider the following:

A small number of songs, in the twenty-plus years they’ve been around, were radio hits. If you were going to base the collection on only songs that were hits, you would have a selection of about twenty-five songs to choose from (as of 2006). However, it would be incredibly skewed, with only one song from …And Justice for All and none at all from their first three albums. As many Metallica fans consider their earlier work better than their later, you would probably be doing a disservice to Metallica’s legacy as well as their fans.

Of course, since they’ve become huge, some radio stations have added their entire catalog to their playlists, so a ton of songs that weren’t hits are now familiar to many. So, suppose they were to issue a compilation that isn’t based strictly on hit status of the songs included. It might be easier to select which songs should be included from, say, the Black era and forward, or to create a compilation based solely on that era, because there were legitimate radio hits, and many people would probably agree on a number of the possible choices for that compilation. However, a compilation including, or based solely on, their early work (say, the first four albums) wouldn’t really have that luxury. Sure, a lot of people might agree that “One” and “Master of Puppets” (just for two examples) should be on there, but there would certainly be a lot of heat about the whole tracklist. Who’s to say whether “Escape” or “Motorbreath” should be included?

Finally, a collection from the era of their first four albums would have about forty-five songs to choose from, including the songs not included on (most versions of) those albums. I haven’t done the math or anything, but I’d estimate the average length of those songs is probably more than six minutes apiece. Unless you only included shorter ones, you wouldn’t be able to fit more than about twelve songs on a CD. And as I mentioned earlier, there’d be some pretty heated competition for those twelve slots.

“Well, they could make it a double-disc compilation,” one might argue. A two-disc compilation to summarize an era of four albums? I’m thinking that doesn’t make the best sense. No, I’d say Metallica is more the kind of band where, if you like one or two songs on the album, there’s a good chance you’ll like most of it (the one album that might serve as the best counter-example to my theory is probably the Black album). So, for most people, I think it makes sense to either invest in the individual albums you like, or just be content to hearing them on the radio. After all, in a great many places, you may find that some radio stations dedicate a period of time every week, or more even often, just to Metallica.

Metallica isn’t the only band I can think of that has enough music to have released a compilation by now and hasn’t. AC/DC’s been around ten years longer than they have, and to the best of my knowledge, there hasn’t been an AC/DC compilation released yet. An AC/DC compilation would make more sense, in my opinion, because they’ve had radio hits pretty much all the way, their songs are generally shorter than Metallica’s, and they have even more material from which to choose.

I’ll third the recommendation for S&M.
It’s a two disc set, the orchestral arrangements sound awesome, as does the band.

A really good selection of songs- at the time it was recorded they had only one truly sucky album in their catalogue. Unfortunately, the sucky album was, at the time, their most recent album so it’s more heavily represented than I would like- but not disproportionate to the earlier stuff (and the songs that were newly written for the concert pretty much sucked). But the selection of pre-suck songs is pretty darn good.

The absence of “Fade to Black” still bugs me. They had a friggin’ orchestra ferchrissakes! “Fade to Black” would have been killer with an orchestra!!! I first picked up the album thinking, “Wow! I can’t wait to hear what they did with ‘Fade to Black’!!! What??? They didn’t do it???”

I’m gonna take the opposite side and say this album sucks, and here’s why:

(1) Michael Kamen doesn’t know shit about how orchestral music should be arranged. The dynamics are way off, and every instrument is going FULL BORE in every song, instead of backing off and letting the band rock out where necessary. The orchestra sounds more like a movie soundtrack than, you know, a real orchestra.

(2) Bad, BAD song selection. Too many crappy songs from The Black Album & Load. “Call of Ktulu” works (lots of dynamics to play with) but “Fuel” and “Battery” are a joke!

(3) The whole album sounds badly recorded, badly mixed, and way, way under-rehearsed. Of course, these things are of little importance to a band whose only focus is M-O-N-E-Y…
As for a “greatest hits” album…I’m surprised there hasn’t been one. Metallica have been money-grubbing whores since 1991, I can’t fathom why they haven’t thrown together some overpriced boxed set with 25 random songs from their catalog, plus 2 or 3 “exclusive” tracks to entice their long-term fans to buy them! (Or maybe they know we fans are so pissed off, we’ll just download the songs instead??)

I agree with KGS. S&M sucked, for much the reasons he (he?) listed.

You don’t need a greatest hits album from Metallica. In fact, I’d say you don’t want one. Get Kill 'em All, Ride the Lightning, and Master of Puppets. There are some good songs on their next two albums, but mostly it’s a fast slide to mediocrity.

They did.

It’s probably not worth the exhorbitant price, but it captures the essence (and strong point) of the band’s live show pretty well I’ve always thought. Plus, it came out in 93 so it’s all Black album and earlier.

The box set “Live Sh*t Binge and Purge” isn’t really worth the money that it still goes for, and S&M is one of those things that made classic Metallica fans stand around with their jaws hitting the floor as we watched one of the best speed metal bands of all time continue spiraling out of the realm of listenablity.

I thought S&M was a nifty album that took an idea so different than anything heard from them and somehow made it workable. However, for that same reason I can’t help but see it as little more than a novelty album. Interesting idea, sounded good in some cases, and proved to be something fans didn’t want any more of. Had it been a success with the fans, they would have, I think, hired local symphonies to support the shows on a tour.

As far as Best Of’s, it seems most likely to follow a lull in the output. I thought it was most likely to happen after “Load” (what an appropriate name), but they saved the ship and released “Re-Load”, proving the k.i.s.s. rule is applicable no matter how popular you are of how hardcore your fans are. You don’t have to “branch out” and “discover” unfound “artistry” in your music. Sometimes a fan just wants to hear some hardcore shit that kicks their ass.

That said, I think a Best Of isn’t too far off. I’ve grown to hate Ulrich and blame him solely for Newstead leaving. Unfair? Untrue? Possibly. It’s just that Lance over the past few years has tried to turn himself into some sort of deep, thoughtful, coffee-house-Jewel type of unappreciated artist. And “St Anger” was over an hour of James seeming to try too damn hard to actually sing and harmonize and emote. Again, I blame Ulrich. But I digress.

I guess it’s too much to hope for a band to crank out the “good” stuff 25 years after setting the standard. There’s only so much you can do with it, and maybe they need to expand to stay relevant. But it’s not what the core wants, and it’s not, IMO, what the core will keep buying for long. At some point the sales will lag, and you need to re-release an album of what people wanted to begin with.

Therefore don’t be surprised to see a compilation soon. But don’t expect to see one from a band like AC/DC for awhile. Their lastest album sounds a lot like every previous album. Different enough to sound new, but the essence is the same. It’s what AC/DC fans like about the band.

Wait, this isn’t GD? Crap. Sorry. :slight_smile:

I’ll see your GD and raise you.

Possibly? Sure, James isn’t as surefooted and confident without the booze, and sure Kirk has become a guitar primadonna who doesn’t want to play traditional forms anymore, but you sure as shit can lay the blame for Metallica’s ultimate demise over Lars’ absolutely horrible attitude. He’s a whiney control freak whose domineering “art” snobbery has destroyed the band.

The only small spark of hope that I still carry is that they’ll see that Dave Mustaine returned to “metal” to huge (well huge for Megadeth circa 2004) critical acclaim and sold more records with the last Megadeth album than with the previous 2 combined. Maybe Metallica is whorish enough to take the bait and try their best to actually turn out something that is a honest return to their legacy. Well maybe not honest, but at least it could be better than doing The Unforgiven Three.


Did I miss something? I thought there were four guys: James Hettfield, Kirk Hammet, Lars Ulrich, and the Trujillo guy. Cliff Burton and Jason Newstead were previous bassists.

Who’s Lance?

I just figured that “Lance” was a dig at “Lars”.

Back to the OP - there is no worthwhile Best of. I agree with posters who’ve said that their first 4 are the way to go, but I would add the Black Album - it has more self-contained songs, but rocks hard.

If you had to limit it, I would say Master of Puppets and the Black Album and you’re set…Master of Puppets is one of the best metal songs ever - to me it is their definitive statement…

I haven’t looked, but you could probably make a decent best-of compilation from what’s on iTunes.

There is no Best Of collection. You need the entire Black Album (maybe titled “Metallica”) You need the entire Master of Puppets album. You need Ride the Lightning, And Justice for All, and Kill em All, although not every song is great.

S&M was interesting but ultimately sucked. It started off good but it just degenerated to Metallica playing like they always play, with the strings interjecting now and then. That said “No Leaf Clover” is a good song, and I believe unique to that album.

Garage Inc. is a nice double album where they cover songs by bands like Motorhead, Nick Cave, and The Misifts. It also contains songs from their first out of print album. Worth getting.

Load & Reload are needed only for a complete collection. The songs on those albums are either analogs to Black Album songs or just semi-crappy.

We won’t talk about St. Anger. Interesting they tried a new direction, but…well that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

That’s how I feel. Their “best of” collection is a 5 CD set of their first 5 albums.

That’s what I was going to recommend, although it somewhat defeats the purpose of getting a collection of Metallica’s “greatest hits.”

I agree with the anti-S&M contingent. I don’t think it’s a horrible album, but it’s not representative of Metallica’s sound. S&M is more for fans who are already familiar with their music and find the idea intriguing. The concert DVD is slightly better, as it’s more interesting to watch than to listen to, and it seems to be mixed better.

If your wife likes the “radio hits” best - like “Unforgiven,” “Nothing Else Matters” - these are from the most-accessible Black album. But I agree with most everyone above that your best bet is to get any of the first five albums. If you’re choosing one, “Master of Puppets” is indeed a masterpiece and the very best single-album example of Metallica’s Rock God genius. If your wife gets “Puppets” and The Black Album, and likes them, she’ll likely go back and buy “Ride the Lightning” and “…And Justice for All” eventually anyway. “Kill 'em All” I’m not quite as fond of, but there are a couple of undisputed classics there, too.

As for iTunes - nope. Metallica is one of those bands (along with The Beatles and Led Zeppelin) which are very protective of licensing their music - remember the Napster debacle? As far as I understand, there’s no way to (legally) download single Metallica songs. I don’t blame them, really. A lot of their songs work best in the context of an album (“Justice” comes to mind).

Has no one yet mentioned the excellent documentary Metallica: Some Kind of Monster? It is structured around the writing and recording of the mostly-hated “St. Anger” album, but it’s a fascinating psychological portrait of the band.

I agree with everyone else that Kill, Ride, Puppets, Justice and the Black Album constitute the essential albums. I am going to take the unenviable position of defending Load as a not-horrible album.

“Ain’t My Bitch,” “Until it Sleeps,” “King Nothing” and “The Outlaw Torn” are good songs, and “Bleeding Me” and “Hero of the Day” are good but aren’t really Metallica-type songs.

“Load” is like a Metallica grunge album, almost. It’s like they decided to record an Alice in Chains album instead of a metal album.

The Essential Metallica for me would consist of:

Kill ‘Em All
Ride the Lightning
Creeping Death
Jump in The Fire
Master of Puppets
Garage Days Re-Revisited
…And Justice for All

You could skip the European imports of Creeping Death and Jump in The Fire if you wanted to include Garage Inc, which is really only worth the middle portion of disc two, but I include them because they include all of those songs from the middle of disc two years earlier than Garage Inc was put out.

I won’t include the Black Album because this spelled the beginning of the end, being a hugely different kind of music compared to the rest. Metallica was over for me the day I heard Enter Sandman. It was a total betrayal of the speed metal ethic that eschewed radio and video marketing and marked the appearance of the members of U2 getting to dress Metallica.