Friday, August 28, 2009

Anthony Kuzminski of antiMusic Network reviews Metallica The Club Dayz 1982-1984 in The Screen Door

Special thanks to Anthony Kuzminski of antiMusic Network for this sweet review of Metallica The Club Dayz 1982-1984 in The Screen Door

Metallica: The Club Dayz 1982-1984 Photo Book by Bill Hale
In a world obsessed with fly-by-night celebrities it's rare to find a picture book that transcends its subject. Bill Hale's Metallica: The Club Dayz 1982-1984 is one of those few books that are more than developed film on paper, but a time machine in book form of the mightiest metal band the world has ever known; Metallica. Bill Hale was a photographer for Metal Rendezvous and he happened to be at the right place at the right time and captured Metallica's birth, infancy and childhood period as a band and he has now published it for the world to relish in. I wasn't old enough to appreciate these early days and even if I was, I am half way across the country from where all the real action was taking place in California. Despite never being able to see the Metallica line-up with Dave Mustaine or Cliff Burton's first show as I paged through Metallica: The Club Dayz 1982-1984 I felt like I was there. Anyone can gather pictures together but can they weave a story and tell a tale? Hale manages to do this with a chronological sequence of pictures from a variety of shows he shot mostly between 1982 and 1984.
Picture books are a tough sell, especially in this day and age where they are a dime a dozen. Anyone these days who has a digital camera thinks they are a pro. Yet what most people miss out on that there's more to a picture than good light and a good angle. Back in 1982 and 1983 when Hale captured these shots of Metallica, not everyone with a Polaroid considered themselves a professional photographer. In fact, few would want to bother with carrying the equipment with them for a whole evening, but Hale did. Overlooking the book, one can see that Hale always managed to get the shots he needed regardless of whether he was in the photo pit or not. Capturing the band in all their youthful innocence is a joy to see. His pictures leap off the page and breathe. Whether it is a goofy James Hetfield transforming into an onstage demon, or childlike Lars Ulrich wailing away on his drums, Hale captures their evolution from a very raw garage band to the San Francisco areas defining metal band and well…you know how the story ends. It's refreshing to look at pictures where the artist being captured isn't self conscious. As people grow older and become more aware of a camera, there is a certain level of pretentiousness that invades the space. They know they are being photographed or even worse, they are being shot for a very specific purpose. People are worried how they may look. A certain angle can be unflattering, you may look heavier or older depending on the angle, how you looked at the lens and it may capture you at a moment that is not your best. I've always preferred a documentarian style of picture taking and all of Hale's Metallica pictures are raw and in the flesh capturing their free and unyielding spirit.
Hale's pictures seizes one of the mightiest of metal bands at a profoundly unique time in their life; the beginning of their career. Capturing an artist of Metallica's stature during this time is like capturing lightning in a bottle. The band is youthful, full of innocence and seeing glorious color shots of the band as they began to crawl and walk is nothing short of incandescent. Including photo's from shows at The Stone and The Old Waldorf in San Francisco. Hale captured the band on stage and off. The beauty of these pictures is he captures them in informal moments that they would never allow today. In truth, I wouldn't allow anyone to take pictures of me like this. There's a shot of Lars Ulrich in his underwear that made me chuckle because it shows that these were just a bunch of friends who got together to make music. It's these candid moments that make you feel like you were there. There are numerous shots of the band saluting Hale whenever he tries to get them to pose and even a picture mere weeks before Cliff Burton died with an old friend (sorry, I won't reveal this one, you need to buy the book to discover who he was with). Another unique aspect of Hale's book is that he manages to capture the band with Ron McGovney and a few short months later with Cliff Burton at his first gig. There are even shots of Exodus with a young Kirk Hammett. He even manages to grab a shot of both Hammett and Mustaine backstage together, talk about being in the right place at the right time.
Metallica: The Club Dayz 1982-1984 is full of eye-wide innocence, yet it also showcases a band who was defining not just their own sound but metal's overall. I have seen pictures similar to these plastered across net, never before have I seen a book that transcends the way this one does. Bill Hale is to Metallica as Astrid Kirchherr was to the Beatles. Kirchherr captured those legendary shots of the Beatles in Hamburg that are a testament to their first steps into a much wider world. Both Hale and Kirchherr caught these respective bands in a distinctive time and place that can never be replicated.Metallica: The Club Dayz 1982-1984 is more than a mere picture book but a historical document of one of Metallica's early days. These pictures leap off the page at you and finally give one perspective as to what it would have been like to witness Metallica with three distinctive line-ups over a short period of time. It's a one of a kind book that captures one of the world's great bands, highly recommended.

Anthony Kuzminski is a Chicago based writer and Special Features Editor for the antiMusic Network and his daily writings can be read at The Screen Door and can be contacted at thescreendoor AT gmail DOT com.