Metallica - Garage Days Re-Revisited - August 21, 1987
After releasing three of the more important albums of the thrash metal genre, Metallica's then reknowned and now legendary bassist Cliff Burton died on September 27, 1986, altering the band's -- and possibly the genre's path forever. Does Metallica even release this EP if Burton doesn't die? No, but given that they already recorded a couple of earlier covers (as Garage Days Revisited), they probably would have recorded similar songs at some point.
This EP is an important one on a few levels. First of all, it shows Metallica wearing their influences on their sleeve. Already known as NWOBHM fans (or enthusiasts), the Diamond Head cover is an obvious choice, while the Holocaust one is a little less so, but fitting given the band's growing penchant for writing slower tunes. The Killing Joke cover is probably the most brilliant one here, taking an excellent post-punk tune and turning it into a searing metal track. The Budgie song shows just how deep Lars liked to dive into the record bins, and probably also showcases one of Hetfield's greatest vocal performances, and the Misfits covers are an obvious and equally brilliant nod to Burton's lasting impression on his former bandmates. Most importantly, Metallica make these songs their own, improving on the originals in almost every case, or at least making them heavier.
Thankfully, Metallica decided to keep these cover songs off of any studio albums. There are plenty of their peers who chose to put covers on their studio releases (Megadeth, Anthrax, etc.) and they only served to break up their otherwise fine albums. As great a job as Metallica do on a song like "Helpless", can you imagine it crammed onto Ride the Lightning? No, you don't want to? Yeah, me neither. As dumb as Metallica's "creative" ideas would become some 20 years later, they at least had some good ones when they were a truly creative band.
Standouts: The Wait, Helpless