Reduced by Rick Rubin

Metallica in the studio, February 2006 with Rick Rubin
Metallica in the studio with Rick Rubin, February 2006. (Photo from Metallica.com.)

After a few weeks with some intense posts about babies, fertility, jobs and the like I’m relaxing with a few self-indulgent posts about my interests … and this evening I just discovered (about a week later than posted) that Def Jam / Def American / American Recordings supremo Rick Rubin is producing the next Metallica album; they are in the studio right now.

Rubin has been responsible as Producer and Executive Producer on some of my favourite albums by the likes of Slayer, Danzig, Red Hot Chili Peppers, System of a Down, and Audioslave.

It’s a good move by Metallica, in my view. Since the incredible “black album” in 1992 Metallica have been using producer Bob Rock (until then most famous for producing the likes of The Cult and Bon Jovi). Bob was great, I’ve no doubt about that. The sound on “the black album” was so much warmer and balanced than their previous albums. It was that combination of solid writing, playing, and production that catapulted Metallica into the consciousness of the world’s record-buying public.

But a lot of fans have become impatient with Bob Rock, as this petition demonstrates, believing that Rock was largely responsible for their albums becoming increasingly less heavy, and more loose and blues-based. I’m not entirely sure that it was all his doing. The partnership of James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich has always been pretty solid and closed when it comes to writing and arranging material.

As I’ve said before on this blog, I loved their Some Kind of Monster film.

It was vulnerable, honest and raw. It was like an awakening, seeing beyond the trappings of the rock n’ roll lifestyle and realising that what was most important was their health, their relationships, their humanness. Rediscovering who they were as individual human beings was essential before they could rediscover who they were as a band, as Metallica.

That honesty and openness has obviously extended into conversations about the production of the next album. I have no doubts that Bob Rock will still be close friends with the members of Metallica — they’ve gone through so much together: good and bad, creative and destructive. But I’m delighted that they’ve taken another risk and opted to work with another producer.

Rubin will bring something new to the party; something wild, something raw, something powerful. I wonder when we look back in another 14 years time whether we’ll see St Anger as being a transitional album as Metallica’s sound and attitude go back underground, back to their roots. Reduced by Rick Rubin.

I, for one, am looking forward to hearing what they do next.

What a riot!

Download Festival headliners: Metallica and Guns N\' Roses
Look who’s headlining this year at the Download Festival at Donnington Park.

Is it 1992 all over again? I see from the latest Download Festival mailing that Metallica and Guns N’ Roses have both been confirmed to headline Download — I still find it hard not to just write “Donnington”.

Metallica and G N’ R famously shared a tour in the summer of 1992. From Wikipedia:

Later in [1992] [Guns N’ Roses] went on a mini-tour with American heavy metal band Metallica. During a show in August 1992 at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, Metallica frontman James Hetfield suffered severe burns after stepping too close to a pyrotechnics blast. Metallica was forced to cancel their part of the show, but asked Guns N’ Roses to continue the concert.

After a long delay, Guns N’ Roses took the stage. However, the shortened time between sets didn’t allow for adequate tuning of stage monitors resulting in musicians not being able to hear themselves. Rose claimed he had problems with his voice and decided to cancel the band’s set after just four songs.

This led to yet another riot, nearly city-wide, and authorities were barely able to bring the mob under control.

Another riot?! I hope this year will be different.

It will be interesting because Guns N’ Roses have effectively been off the radar in terms of rock activity for the last half a million years (or so) . They have supposedly been recording their next album Chinese Democracy since 1997. I never was a great G N’ R fan … so why am I blogging this?!

Metallica, however … now they are REAL METAL™.

Corsair USB drives … how much!?

Close-up of Corsair USB drive
Close up of the Corsair Flash Voyager USB 2.0 drive.

A few months ago in a round-up review in PC Plus magazine the Corsair Flash Voyager drives came out on top, as robust, reliable and very, very fast. I popped down to my local web browser and picked up a couple of 512 MB models from Dabs.com. One for me, one for Jane.

Here’s what Corsair say about their own drives:

Corsair Flash Voyager USB drives are rugged, stylish, compact, reliable, and exceptionally fast, making them ideal for transporting MP3s, digital images, presentations and more. With data transfer rates up to 19Mb/sec, Flash Voyager drives are fully Hi-Speed USB 2.0 compliant, and are backward compatible with USB 1.1. They support Plug and Play with most operating systems. Their durable rubber casing is easy to grip and water resistant. These highly portable drives are available in capacities ranging up to 2GB.

The only problem is that I’ve now discovered that 512 MB is too small; I’ve run out of space, because I like to carry around on it a basic collection of essentials and software tools: Firefox, IrfanView, Adobe Reader, etc.

So, I’ve been looking at getting a larger Corsair USB drive. The 2 GB model looks nice, and on Amazon UK is priced reasonably at £64.99 … that is until you add it to your Amazon Wish List:

Screenshot of Corsair USB drive on Amazon UK wish list

How much does it say?! £851.06!!? Shurely shome mishtake!