Song of the Day: Metallica, "One"
There are plenty of songs I like more than Metallica's "One." In fact, there are oodles more Metallica songs I like more than "One," which is a killer jam that may not actually make my Metallica Top 10.
(Actually, let's run down that 10 right now, just to see if that's an accurate statement: 1. "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" 2. "Hit The Lights" 3. "Disposable Heroes" 4. "The God That Failed" 5. "The Unforgiven II" 6. "For Whom The Bell Tolls" 7. "Master of Puppets" 8. "Harvester of Sorrow" 9. "Battery" 10. "Enter Sandman")
But "One" is made up of a lot of different moments, and there's a bit in that song that is undoubtedly my favorite 11 seconds in all of recorded music. It comes just after the breakdown, once the song has resolved its first section and settled into its jackhammering tail end. Over machine gun guitars, frontman James Hetfield barks, "Darkness! Imprisoning me! All that I see! Absolute horror!" It's thrilling, and as sharp a distillation of what metal means to me. Hetfield opens his eyes and takes in an endless sea of anguish and brutality. And what does he do? He shouts right back into the void, beating down the darkness with the power of his throat and his electric guitar.
In 2013, I saw Metallica play a SiriusXM-sponsored show at the Apollo Theater, which coincided with the release of the action-horror-concert film Through the Never. It's one of the five best concerts I've ever seen in my life: I was sitting in the fourth row of a tiny room, surrounded by a mass of grateful people for whom Metallica was undoubtedly their favorite band. They played "One" about half way through the set, and when Hetfield stepped up to the microphone to shout the "Darkness!" line, I became completely overwhelmed, and I couldn't do anything but weep. That has only happened a few times in my life, and I treasure every single moment. (Next week I'll have to tell a similar story about Nine Inch Nails.)