I feel that I should start this off by saying that the mighty Metallica can do no wrong in my eyes, so I am quite possibly far too biased to review anything that they release. I have had a huge appreciation for everything they have done, and yes that does include St Anger, the Through The Never film, Load and Reload and the widely derided collaboration with Lou Reed, Lulu.
That being said, I have always tried to put myself in another listeners shoes before I write about Metallica, and I have always emphasised the pieces of a particular release that I don’t like. So please, stay with me (even though I don’t think there’s much to not like on this release!)
Now, I feel like Metallica built a head of steam off the back of Hardwired, and they ideally should have capitalised on that and got to work on the studio follow up as soon as possible. As far as a “stop gap” release goes though, I’m am quite happy to take this live and acoustic record to keep me happy for now.
Released only on vinyl, with the majority if not all of the proceeds going to the bands own All Within My Hands charity, Helping Hands is a wonderful collection of songs from the bands back catalogue, with a selection of well thought out covers thrown in for good measure.
On Helping Hands, the band don’t take themselves too seriously. Stage banter is left in between songs, and the approach to the concert comes across as very loose, and comfortable for Metallica.
The record opens with a reimagining of Disposable Heroes, which after a few listens really grew on me. It’s a totally different arrangement in this acoustic setting and Hetfield and co. really give the song a new lease of life.
I’m so glad that Metallica chose to include their cover of Deep Purples When A Blind Man Cries here. I truly believe it is one of the best covers they have ever recorded, and without a doubt this song translates extremely well to the acoustic setting.
Any Metallica acoustic set would simply have to include Nothing Else Matters and The Unforgiven, and sure enough, both are present here. There’s nothing overly new or exciting about either songs inclusion, but they fit very well.
Covers of Nazareth’s Please Don’t Judas Me, the Blue Oyster Cult classic Veteran of the Psychic Wars, and Bob Segers Turn the Page are all used to great effect as well, with Veteran being potentially the best song of the entire collection.
There is a great version of Bleeding Me that works well here, and St Anger track All Within My Hands has arguably never sounded better. It is the song that the charity is named after, so it makes perfect sense to be included here.
The final three songs, the obligatory rendition of Enter Sandman, The Four Horsemen and Hardwired close out this record in cracking style, making for a very enjoyable listening experience.
I would honestly give this release a 9/10.
Heres a link for a video of Metallica performing Veteran of the Psychic Wars.
Now, I’ll just sit in the corner and await a new studio album. Hopefully it will come sooner rather than later!