mettblackMetallica – Metallica: Four Disc Vinyl Reissue (Universal)

It may be almost two decades since this metal standard in an iconic black sleeve first shook up the world of rock but like a good wine it improves with time. Sounding like the most suitable companion piece to 2008’s Death Magnetic, Metallica’s self-titled album is back and this time it means business.

Carefully restored and spread liberally across four pieces of heavyweight vinyl it sounds deeper, darker and more menacing than ever before. Gone is the too-clean pitch of the CD version and the hiss of the original vinyl release. In its place are 12 tracks which tear at your senses with greater urgency than ever before. And the best thing about a Metallica album in this retro package – it can’t be rushed.

Take the second record or sides three and four. One whole piece of vinyl dedicated to just two monumental tunes. The Unforgiven and Wherever I May Roam have always deserved their own record and here they get it. Flipping between songs simply gives you the time to savour one before digesting the other and make no mistake about it – these are compositions which demand attention, dissection and admiration.

Enter Sandman and Nothing Else Matters are the only other songs in this dirty dozen which command entire sides to themselves – listening to the latter on 2009’s deluxe heavyweight vinyl alongside its original release 12 inch single explains why so much time and money has been invested in this collector’s dream/nightmare project.

You could be listening to a different band. A band very like Metallica but, dare we say it, even better than the real thing. With Blu-Ray DVD, DAB Radio and the like setting new standards for aural excellence there are those who will scoff at the very notion that the nu-wave of old skool vinyl can hold its own. In this case it does so much more than that.

Tossing aside dated preconception of the format as an overweight former great and revamping vinyl as a big hitter for the 21st century, this re-release of a must-own record is just as essential as its fantastic forerunner.

rushonrock rated: 10/10 Black Day For Vinyl