Unless you’ve been raised in a dark, bottomless pit, you’ve most likely encountered, in any various form, the rich, driving, passions of the band who were undoubtedly one of the pivotal instigators of not only thrash metal, but mainstream metal: Metallica. In their humble beginnings, the band raged, an endless barrage of furious riffs and soulful vocals. As they progressed, the band matured, ever more noticeably; by their second album, they were approaching profound issues, suicide, self-destruction, genocide, and as the years passed, they kept growing. …And Justice For All’s “One” hit us hard, and “Enter Sandman”, claimed as the bands first assault into the Mainstream medium gave the band their first real taste of worldwide addulation. Gone were the complex riffage of “Master of Puppets”, the symphonic intricacies of “To Live Is To Die”; the band had matured unexpectedly, and now favored the soul of the epic over the neckbreak speed of their founding fathers. Their 6th album, “Load”, became their ultimate progression, and deviation. Tracks like “Mama Said” and “Ronnie”, tributes to James Hetfield’s lifelong love of Southern Rock, shocked us all. The band still rocked, as “Ain’t My Bitch” and “The Thorn Within” showed, but for some the change was just too much. When the band released their 7th album, “ReLoad”, we saw a mild return to the roots that birthed them. Tracks like “Fuel” and “Devil’s Dance” were undoubted onslaughts of pure metal; and yet, other tracks, like “Low Man’s Lyric”, and even the heartfelt “Unforgiven II” were still considered offset. The band was growing up, and nobody quite knew why. They still knew how to rock, so why didn’t they? Why were the magnificent stylings of “Battery” being discarded? Why couldn’t the band just, well, rock? It’s hard to say; it’s all based on individual opinion, and some would argue that now, more than ever, the band has reached their ultimate capacity, and has never rocked harder. The new album, “Garage Inc.”, is hailed in halves: Some leap in ecstatic joy, praising the return to the “Old Style” found on parts of the album. Others rejoice, finding the band has matured even more, as tracks like Seger’s “Turn the Page” and Sabbath’s “SabraCadabra” illustrate. They can still pound out the riffs, but they do it almost strategically now, however unconventionally. They explore new realms, and it’s apparent that the band has never enjoyed themselves more. You can feel James Hetfield pouring his soul into his work; He’s doing what he loves, and it’s very self-evident. “Garage Inc.” is sure to please both Metallica generations. Those who crave the old Metallica, who want to meet an endless barrage of metal in it’s purest form, will find their desires fulfilled on this album. Those who need a matured perspective, a steady stream of soulful expression, will find their hopes were not in vain. The album is almost perfect, and will no doubt be one of the most momentous and provocative of Metallica’s ventures.