There isn’t really any reason for this to exist

Labels like to have some product for a band to promote while they’re on tour, but when the band is Metallica, the album’s two years old and they won’t allow permission for a special “tour edition”, what can you do?

You grab a bunch of bootlegged live tracks recorded on previous “Trans-Tasman” tours (as the booklet is at pains to point out, although no NZ shows made the cut) and turn them into the world’s longest EP. Metallica are old hands at this “official bootleg” caper of course, but the results on this occasion turn out to be perhaps the rawest-sounding live takes officially released by any band ever. The first three are especially rough. “Through the Never” sounds like it was recorded on a mobile phone (which I’d almost believe if it wasn’t from ’93) and while it was nice to go back and revisit their first tour here in 89,  the recording quality of the first two songs is also very bad, to the degree where Metallica is almost entirely drowned out by people talking nearby a couple of times. The off-key harmonies in “…And Justice for All” are also very jarring. If this were a DVD or an actual concert, you probably wouldn’t even notice. But because it’s not, it’s very, very obvious.

Things get better later on. Both “The Unforgiven” and the remarkable acoustic version of “Low Man’s Lyric” complete with hurdy-gurdy are perfectly acceptable and it’s great to hear them tear out “Fight Fire with Fire”. But in all seriousness, there isn’t really any reason for this to exist. Most of the tracks have probably been on YouTube now for years and despite the plea from the band in the booklet to “please don’t take this too seriously”, it’s a bit cynical to expect people to fork out for a collection of (mostly) terribly recorded live tracks. On the plus side, this is being marketed as an EP (despite being five minutes longer than Ride the Lightning), so it only costs about $15. And that’s fine, until you discover that it’s only part one, meaning you’re up for more cash in another month or so, when the second one comes out.

1. Eye of the Beholder
2. …And Justice for All
3. Through the Never
4. The Unforgiven
5. Low Man’s Lyric (acoustic)
6. Devil’s Dance
7. Frantic
8. Fight Fire With Fire