Who would have thought that a bloated beyond belief two-disc compilation of covers would be better than most of Metallica's post-1991 output?
Garage Inc. is far and away the most inessential and least interesting release in Metallica's entire discography. It's just a really messy covers album that goes on for over two hours. Nobody, not even diehard Metallica fans, have time for an album like this. An album that has one hell of a mess of a track listing and mostly just underwhelming covers.
The range of artists and genres covered here is much wider than you'd want to hear from a covers album. From Black Sabbath and Motörhead, to Misfits and Discharge, to Diamond Head and Mercyful Fate, to Lynyrd Skynyrd and Blue Öyster Cult and even a Queen cover, there's such a huge variety of artists from all sorts of genres and subgenres that it ends up being really messy. It becomes really difficult to get into as once you've begun to get into the feel of the record, they take a complete left turn by covering an artist that they probably shouldn't have on this record. But I guess that's what happens when the album is more of a compilation than an actually album experience
The two discs of this album cover completely different ground, with the first disc being completely new covers recorded specifically for this record, and the second disc being the Garage Days EP released in the late '80s, plus various B-sides. Because of this, the second disc in particular feels way too all-over-the-place, with it constantly shifting between recording dates and sounds. And the first disc in general ends up being an even bigger mess, with more than half the tracks there feeling shoehorned in there just so that they can justify actually re-releasing a bunch of older tracks in the form of an album.
Honestly, I don't even think that this album in general is all that bad, just very fucking messy. It's way too inconsistent for its own good, and even the best covers on here aren't all that great, with a lot of the most popular songs to come out of this being very overhyped (even though Whiskey In The Jar is easily one of the best songs on the record, I really don't understand how it's one of Metallica's most popular songs. Also, Die, Die My Darling frankly sucks and I don't understand why it's so beloved outside of it being one of the singles. Then again, I also don't get why Memory Remains is so beloved either, so just ignore me). There may be some good covers, such as Sabbra Cadabra and Last Caress/Green Hell, and that Mercyful Fate medley is truly something to behold in its own right, but there really isn't much to this album.
Garage Inc. is by far the easiest skip in Metallica's entire discography, and ironically I'd actually say it's better than most of their output after the Black Album. When it comes to their late '90s hard rock endeavours, this is easily the best album of the bunch and probably the only one that somewhat justifies its existence, and I doubt I even need to explain why it's better than both St. Anger and Death Magentic, but in the grand scheme of things, this is very unnecessary. I couldn't even recommend this album to diehard Metallica fans because two hours of underwhelming cover songs really isn't worth it no matter how much you love the band. There's definitely songs that deserve a listen, but this album would have benefitted from a trip to the cutting room. Out of the 27 tracks here, only 10-15 of them are actually somewhat worthwhile and would have definitely elevated this album from inessential to worth a listen. Maybe the album still wouldn't be the most amazing thing ever, but it definitely would have been a lot more enjoyable and interesting. But all in all, an okay album that is mostly tolerable, albeit way longer than it ever needed to be and very unimportant.
Favourite Tracks: Am I Evil?; Last Caress/Green Hell; Sabbra Cadabra; Mercyful Fate; Stone Cold Crazy; Whiskey In The Jar; Blitzkrieg
Least Favourite Tracks: The Wait; Loverman; The Small Hours; Breadfan