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Fade to Bluegrass: The Bluegrass Tribute to Metallica

Pickin' On Series

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Album Review

After bluegrass Pink Floyd, bluegrass metal was the obvious next step, although the dark hues of Metallica seem an unlikely choice. But here they are, ten Metallica songs done in bluegrass fashion — or at least as bluegrass as it's possible for Metallica songs to be. There are plenty of innate differences in the styles that make a fusion difficult — the concept of melody being one. This album pinpoints the fact that in their original versions, these songs contain precious little melody, especially in the vocals, and here they have to work hard to extract that and create harmonies behind the tenor lead — indeed, the piece that seems most open is "Fuel." The playing, of course, is superb, with mandolin player Tony Robertson turning in some stunning solos on "Nothing Else Matters" and "Wherever I May Roam" and Vance Henry offering some shimmering guitar on "Fuel." Part of the problem is that while perhaps three of these songs are generally well-known, coming from that brief period when Metallica was a general big deal, most of the material will be familiar only to those who've heard several Metallica albums. And though bluegrass has its share of dark lyrics, they're generally not as nihilistic or apocalyptic as anything in this metal field. A lot of thought has gone into the arrangements here, and there's a definite irony in the fact that the disc contains no drums — the instrument of Metallica's leader. Interesting, with some fabulous playing, but you can't help feeling that the talent could be put to better use on some other project.

Fade to Bluegrass: The Bluegrass Tribute to Metallica, Pickin' On Series
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