No Life 'Til Leather [2015 Reissue] review by Metallica

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  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7.3 Good
  • Users' score: 7.6 (22 votes)
Metallica: No Life 'Til Leather [2015 Reissue]
1

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.

37 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Sleaze Disease
    "I may be one of the few folks around who still has a working cassette player, which is a pretty archaic device..." You do know that you can still buy cassette player/recorders and boomboxes with cassette players, right? Hell, Walmart carries them.
    gorkyporky
    Yeah, but who is gonna go buy a casette player just for this? I got an actual demo cassette from someone a few years ago, and the only place i could listen to it was in my old as hell car.
    Peres.T.Peanut
    I've seen a lot of new releases on cassete, mostly underground bands. Vinyl got too big for hipsters, I guess.
    HitmanJenkins
    Cassettes are really cheap in comparison to vinyl, especially in small runs (20-100). Plus some people want something tangible as well, but with CDs being an unpopular choice due to just being able to download the release. Which is why they're very popular in the underground scene.
    XxRustInPeacexX
    yup^ lots of bands offer cassettes because they're super cheap so they can sell physical copies for only like $3-5. Makes their music very accessible while still being able to produce a physical product. I can't stand when people immediately jump to the "hurr durr hipster" argument. Yall sound like idiots.
    Ardolino_Cool
    Why is it soley hipsters that get credited for using out dated equipment. Analogue > Digital. So any way to listen to analogue is great...has nothing to do with being a hipster.
    Sleaze Disease
    Of course nobody is going to run out and buy one just so they can listen to this, but that wasn't my point. I was simply pointing out that if one were inclined to get into cassettes, they could still easily find an affordable tape player; it's not like they would have to hunt down some elusive stand-alone tape deck from back in the day that someone is asking a fortune for.
    kmepie
    Finally a Metallica release with guitar leads that are actually good.
    bdof
    Not to hate on Rob as a bassist, but Seek and Destroy sounds really empty with his version of the bass lines
    irishdragon
    The solo's sound clear as hell. I have a new appreciation for the leads on this album. Good job Mustaine.
    alfie9000
    Is that Dave on seek and destroy? or James when he had a high voice or both?
    mckenna64
    You can really hear the Diamondhead influence on his vocals on this version of Seek and Destroy.
    kriskilgannon
    Yeah, you can hear the [obscure pre-trash 70s metal band] influences on Phantom Lord, too. If you listen closely.
    DesertEagle97
    Instead of posting new material, there revisiting the classics... I guess that's the only thing they can do now. Where is the new album!!!
    JustStayDown90
    "there" revisiting. Nice. It's 2015 and people still can't grasp the simplest of grammar rules.
    metallideth88
    Go to a professor forum man u dont belong here
    JustStayDown90
    I'm just a student, it doesn't take a professor to know how to speak proper English. Don't tell me how to live my life. #WhereDaHoodAt
    robertito696
    I sometimes forget why Metallica are so famous and so highly regarded, given how lackluster the last 15 years of their career's been. But this was damn enjoyable, a nice reminder that Metallica used to ****in rip.
    austhrax
    Cool stuff,I loved. My tapes back in the day,you can't go past the old Walkman for playing them,sounds sweet
    NACH0 SLAY3R
    i haven't listened to the mechanix (metallica version) yet... i like the lyrics to the four horsemen but i like megadeths speed of the mechanix... i hope it's worth listening to
    CLiFF-BuRToN
    Fact is Mustaine never sang when he was in Metallica he started to sing in Megadeth when he couldn't find a singer to his liking
    Slayer35
    I had to race downtown to get my copy, luckily I'm good friends with the owner of the record store and he held a copy for me, it was so worth it, I love the remastered version, Metallica is my all time favorite band(I made my account when I was 16, I wish UG gave the option to change your username) and I've added this to my collection that already includes rare vinyls like the Lords of Summer vinyl, Beyond Magnetic vinyl and the Garage Days revisited vinyl.