Album review: Metallica – Liberté, Fraternité, Égalité, Metallica! (Record Store Day exclusive)

imageTo celebrate Record Store Day, Metallica released a live album recorded at the Bataclan in Paris on June 11th 2003. That mini concert was one of three the band did that day (!) on a promo tour for their “St Anger” album. The Bataclan unfortunately became infamous in November 2015 for being the scene of a terrorist attack during a concert by The Eagles of Death Metal, leaving 89 people dead and more than 200 wounded. All proceeds from this release, limited to 20,000 individually numbered copies, will be donated to the victims of the shooting.

This recording is from the 6PM show, the second of the three performances. The setlist leans heavily on the first four records, with only the then-new “Frantic” coming from their post-Justice catalog. The “St-Anger” tour saw the band reconnect with their older material, and this one-hour show shows the band embracing their roots with heaps of enthusiasm.

The recording does a great job of capturing the energy and power of a Metallica show, but they’ve never been terribly tight live, and it’s still the case here. James fumbles the “Four Horsemen” riff right out of the gate, and you’re often left wondering how they managed to avoid a train wreck. Lars is playing better than on many shows from that tour, but he’s still very sloppy especially on the faster, thrasher material. Then newcomer Robert Trujillo holds down the fort on bass with precision, and Kirk Hammett on lead guitar is also pretty solid.

If it weren’t for the fact that it is a limited release, this CD would not hold much interest, considering the vast amount of live Metallica material available through livemetallica.com.  “The Four Horsemen”, “Leper Messiah”, “Ride the Lightning” and “Damage Inc.” were already released on the “Some Kind Of Monster’ EP, but the setlist remains the highlight of this show. And despite its flaws, it sounds good, and when cranked loud it conveys the power of a Metallica performance.

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Jean-Frederic Vachon
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