Sunday Sesh: Let’s Just Listen to Metallica’s Power Metal Demo
In this, the year of our lord 2017, you’ve likely heard just about every version of every single Metallica song. You’ve heard the original No Life ’til Leather demo. You’ve heard that Beyond Magnetic EP. You’ve heard those live versions of “One” with the dueling solos. Hell, you’ve even heard the recording of that time Metallica played “Turn the Page” with Kid Rock (and probably even cringed when Kid Rock greasily bellowed “Smoke a fat ass joint!” So why should you care about one more Metallica recording? Because, friend, it’s quite possible you’ve never heard early 80s speed metal Metallica. Well, thanks to the magic of youtube, you no longer have to pay some shady dealer on Discogs for a bootleg of the unreleased Power Metal demo. Get in here and stab play to hear Metallica pretending to be Diamond Head.
No seriously, this four-track demo, named after the tagline then bassist Ron McGovney had printed on the young band’s business cards, sounds just like Diamond Head and other groups from the NWOBHM and speed metal era. Hetfield sings in a much higher register on several portions of these tracks, and when he isn’t pressing his range, he’s adding that sleazy 80s speed metal swagger to his vocal delivery. Power Metal was recorded in McGovney’s garage and sounds appropriately rough; Lars’s drums are muddy, the production could have been muffled under a blanket, and there’s quite a bit of racket to the guitars, but those riffs that would eventually propel Metallica to the throne of biggest metal band in the world are definitely present. The chemistry between Hetfield and a young Mustaine is undeniable on this demo.
Speaking of Mustaine, two of the four tracks on this demo were written by him. We’re all familiar with the sordid history of “The Mechanix,” but this demo features an extremely early version of “Jump in the Fire” with slightly different lyrics. It’s pretty interesting hearing one of Metallica’s most boogieing tracks in such a primal, rudimentary form. The other two songs are instantly recognizable, but both “Hit the Lights” and “Motorbreath” have just a little special pizzazz to them thanks to Hetfield’s Sean Harris-aping vocal delivery.
This demo is sloppy and boozey, the perfect little nostalgic chase of the hair of the dog to help you through your Sunday. So how do you feel about these tracks? Do you wish Metallica would have maintained this speed metal style? Sound off in the comments below.