Sound — 8
Metallica formed and released their first recorded work in 1982, at the time with Dave Mustaine on lead guitar and backing vocals, and before Cliff Burton had joined the band. Since then the band has easily become, arguably, the biggest heavy metal band in modern history with multiple successful releases. Since that time, Dave Mustaine was replaced with Kirk Hammett before the band's debut release, as well as having Cliff Burton replace the original bassist, Ron McGovney. Then Cliff Burton died in an accident and was replaced by Jason Newsted, who later was replaced by Robert Trujillo, and you have the current longtime lineup. The first reissue of 2015 for Metallica is "No Life 'Til leather," which still had McGovney and Mustaine on the recording (though Burton was falsely credited with the bass in the liner notes). The tracks from "No Life 'Til Leather" went on to mostly comprise the track listing for the band's debut full-length album, "Kill 'Em All." The cassette was created with Lars Ulrich's copy of the original art work.
The 2015 reissue of "No Life 'Til Leather" was released on cassette tape, with a planned CD and digital version available sometime during summer 2015. The band has stated that the original mix was maintained, though the demos were remastered. On a side-by-side comparison, I have a hard time believing the original mixing was maintained. It appears that the drums are louder in the mix and EQ'd differently, the guitars are EQ'd differently, the bass is lower in the mix than the originals, etc. There are a lot of little things I noticed, that I actually recruited people to listen with me to confirm I wasn't crazy. It seems like a lot of things were changed. The vocals, especially, sound drastically different on parts of the demo. It seems pointless to go track by track, but it definitely is worth the release - especially if you can snag it in the nostalgic cassette tape format and still have a player.
Lyrics — 7
During the recording of "No Life 'Til Leather," vocals were still provided by both James Hetfield and Dave Mustaine, which definitely created a different dynamic than Metallica had after James Hetfield took over sole lead vocal duties. The vocals seem to be a little higher in the mix than the original, and with a little bit more reverb.
Overall Impression — 7
The value of this reissue is absolutely primarily a nostalgic value, especially for those people who collected the band's cassettes back in the day. Thrash metal was a genre that really grew from trading cassettes back before any of the Big 4 were even signed to a label. By making copies and handing them out at concerts and to friends, it helped a genre of music that was getting zero airplay on the radio play at large venues and get record deals. This is something that has essentially gone on with the internet in the modern age, though with more negative connotations with the title "internet piracy" tagged onto the act of sharing music, and legislation to punish participants. On the opposite side of that coin, you have unscrupulous people who have used the internet to profit off the work of musicians and has essentially crippled the record industry, which is bad news for both artists and labels.
I may be one of the few folks around who still has a working cassette player, which is a pretty archaic device and without the romanticism attached to it that there is with vinyl. I can definitely see, if more bands start to do these cassette reissues, a possible nostalgic revival of the cassette medium. My favorite tracks off the reissue are "Jump in the Fire" and "Phantom Lord." I would love to see this become a series of cassette reissues from Metallica, with reissues of all their original cassette demo tapes.