Having a pop at metal behemoths Metallica in 2019 really is like shooting fish in a barrel, just one look at the ticket prices for their upcoming UK dates and the fact that their manager Peter Mensch basically told the fans prior to the tour that he was pushing prices as high as he could should be as easy a starting point as any.

This aside though just over 2 years ago I last witnessed the band live playing an 850 capacity underground venue in London where the ticket price was a donation to a local charity that helped homeless children to get off the streets. They raised £15,000 that night as well as a hell of a lot of pairs of horns. So, kudos to the band for that.

‘Helping Hands… Live & Acoustic At The Masonic’ very much continues this theme as it is Metallica’s all-new limited edition double live vinyl album that supports the band’s All Within My Hands Foundation, a multi-cause platform set up to support society’s most vulnerable – you can check out the website linked below for more information.

Getting back this album and the online presale meant you had to be quick out the blocks to get one of these double 140gm blue vinyl beauties as they sold out almost overnight. So, I guess you’re probably wondering, why all the fuss?

Well, this 12 track set recorded at the Helping Hands Concert and Auction back in November of last year really is Metallica like you’ve never heard them before. I was immediately hooked after seeing the video for ‘All Within My Hands’, a deep cut from the ‘St Anger’ album that here, devoid of Lars’ awful cod reggae snare sound and now resplendent with pedal steel guitar, sounds like a completely new song. Likewise, the versions of ‘Disposable Heroes’ and ‘Enter Sandman’ that were also video leaked sound almost unrecognisable here, and I can’t help thinking of the ‘Unledded’ Page and Plant album, albeit forget the Far Eastern influences and instead get ready for Metallica goes Deep South.

With this in mind the (almost) played straight versions of ‘Nothing Else Matters’, and ‘The Unforgiven’ actually come as something of a disappointment, however, the acoustic thrash versions of ‘The Four Horsemen’ and ‘Hardwired’ that bring the 71 minutes set to a crashing close really do sound like the band having the most fun they’ve had in years.

The rest of the track listing is basically made up of covers of songs by the likes of Blue Oyster Cult, Deep Purple, Bob Seger and Nazareth, and again if I’m being totally honest here, I’d much rather have heard a few more of the band’s own deeper cuts being given the acoustic reinvention treatment. However what’s that old adage again about keeping them wanting more? Ha, well Metallica has certainly done that with ‘Helping Hands… Live & Acoustic At The Masonic’.

There appear to still be some retail copies of this LP set to hit the shelves (it looks like March) so if you do your search engine homework you can still possibly pre-order copies of this LP on the interweb without having to pay a flipper a Discogs King’s ransom, and trust me when I say it really is worth every penny of the donation you’ll be making to the All Within My Hands Foundation.

Author: Johnny Hayward

All Within My Hands