With its breakneck-paced galloping riffs and James Hetfield’s snarls about weaker people being “ripped and torn away,” Metallica’s “Battery,” off their magnum opus Master of Puppets, is the apotheosis of thrash metal. The song starts with Spaghetti Western flamenco guitar, and that’s the most clearly defined thread that connects it to Rodrigo y Gabriela, the Mexican acoustic guitar duo which refigured “Battery” into a dynamic exercise in unplugged rage.
Rodrigo y Gabriela have never hidden the debt they owe to heavy metal and especially Metallica — their self-titled 2008 LP featured a cover of the Master of Puppets instrumental “Orion,” and they’ve done several other Metallica covers live over the years — and you can hear the deference they have for their heroes in “Battery.” Although the recording is instrumental, their fingers summon the fury of Hetfield’s voice in a way that never sounds odd. It’s a hard thing to do — only the cello quartet Apocalyptica have had the same success with their own instrumental rendition of the track — but Rodrigo y Gabriela seem to tap into the song’s natural propulsion. They even replicate Kirk Hammett’s fleet-fingered solos perfectly (minus the wah-wah workout).
The fact that it works so well is a curious thing, and it will be interesting to hear how the duo interprets the two other thrash classics on their upcoming Black Friday Record Store Day release, Mettal EP. But chances are, they’ll also fit perfectly since Megadeth’s “Holy Wars” already sported a flamenco guitar interlude and Slayer’s trippy “Seasons in the Abyss” is basically thrash metal’s angel dust answer to the psychedelia of groups like Pink Floyd — and hey, Rodrigo y Gabriela already have Pink Floyd covered.
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