Originals

12/03/2012

Heavy Metal XCOM: Two Possibilities

The supposed truth behind the quickly spiraling demise of metal's biggest band.

By: Gus Mastrapa

Filed Under: Editorial Experimental Music Strategy

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Two possibilities exist. One is that Metallica began a downward spiral of mediocrity after recording their “black album.” The other is quite different. This is that story.

Many blame Bob Rock for the downfall of Metallica. They say that the producer’s pop sensibilities eviscerate the band’s thrashy soul, transforming the platinum-selling metal band into a bland, MTV-ready rock ‘n’ roll product. They’re only half right. Rock lured the band away from the path of true metal, but he did so not for for commerce, but for country. Acting on the behest of the council of nations Rock approached the band in their dressing room after a headlining show in London’s Hammersmith Ballroom.

“I have a proposition for you guys,” Rock said.

“We already told you that we don’t want to record a goddamn easy listening record with you,” James Hetfield, the band’s lead singer and rhythm guitarist growled between thirsty slugs of Heineken. Cliff Burton, the band’s lanky bassist, presented his calloused middle finger. “Go back to Sunset, Dr. Feelgood.”

Lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, still practicing solos on his jet black ESP, winced at their cruelty. “Why do you guys have to be so mean all the time?”

“Yeah,” the freshly showered Lars Ulrich, added. The drummer was wrapped in a white towel and nothing else. “The dude might have something interesting to say.”

“I understand your resistance,” Rock said casually, pulling a sweaty beer out of an ice bucket in the corner of the green room. “But there’s a helicopter on the roof. This isn’t about selling out or true metal or any of this bullshit.” He twisted the cap from the bottle and took one, calculated sip. “This, my hairy friends, is a matter of global security.”

***

It all went to hell in Sao Paulo. Burton was hunkered down behind a stack of pallets sweating bullets. His hands clutched his shotgun so tightly his knuckles ached. On his equipment belt was an Arc Thrower, a gizmo the eggheads in Engineering whipped up to help them stun and capture one of the aliens. “Yeah, right.” Burton muttered. He could taste bile and blood in the back of this throat. There were still at least three of those bastards out there. And this fucking piece of shit wasn’t going to help things. What he really needed was a medkit, but that thing was on Lars and who knows what the hell happened to him.

Cliff could hear the monsters shuffling in the distance – calling to each other. He leaned out of cover and peered across the asphalt to the bloody remains of his bandmates. Kirk took a headshot and had tumbled backwards off his sniping perch. James was bleeding out nearby. How did shit get so fucked up so fast? Those missions in Canada and Mumbai were a breeze. The band felt tighter than it had in years. Kirk worked his magic from afar, picking off alien assholes with his sniper rifle while James and Lars kept watch, shooting anything that moved. It was all going so well until Sao Paulo and now… Fuck it. It’s all over.

“We got cocky,” Burton said to himself. “We thought we could do this, but we couldn’t. We should have stayed in San Francisco and made records. I never wanted to save the world. I just wanted to drink beer and play my bass.” But that’s all over.

For a moment he thought he could just give into despair – let himself just fade to black.

“Fuck that.”

Cliff Burton racked his shotgun, driving his remaining shells into position. He checked the settings on his Arc Thrower. “If I can take down two of the fuckers maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to bag the last one.”

The aliens were in motion again. He heard their otherworldly skitters and chirps coming from a small office at the far end of the construction site. The bass player popped to his feet, clutched his shotgun close and exploded out of cover and ran as fast as his long legs could carry him. He was breathless when he slammed against the outside wall of the office building. Above his head was a window. His plan was to peer through the glass, assess the situation and, possibly, breach the building through the window. But Burton never managed to catch his breath. A grey alien stepped around the corner and peppered him with plasma fire. The green energy scorched his face and hands. He could taste the ultrahot air as it entered his lungs and he knew it was over. “I don’t want to die,” he cried throwing himself heedlessly through the window. If he was lucky the room would be clear and he’d be able to collect his thoughts, get his shit together and maybe get out of this shit show.

Cliff Burton was lucky. He looked straight into the Sectoid’s eyes when the creature pulled the trigger. This time the plasma enveloped him, swirling around him like the aurora borealis he saw the time Metallica’s tour jet stopped to refuel in Iceland. It was just him alone on the tarmac, shivering in the cold, smoking a joint and marveling at the crazy, beauty of the universe.

Cliff felt alone this time too. But he saw no beauty. Just those two, unblinking red discs on that bastards face and the swirling, burning green that was melting the flesh off his face.

Somewhere in a top secret bunker XCOM’s commander held his head in his hands. They were all gone. And it was his fault. “Status black,” he said into the loudspeaker.  “Status black confirmed,” he said. “Metallica is dead.”

[Part two]

Filed Under: Editorial Experimental Music Strategy

About the Author:
Gus Mastrapa is a freelance writer from Apple Valley, CA. He doesn't believe in zombies.