In their long and storied career, Metallica have two big instrumental tracks. “The Call of Ktulu,” from 1984’s Ride the Lightning, is a towering piece of metal magic that evokes images of the Lovecraftian god after which it’s named. “Orion,” off of 1986’s Master of Puppets, is a bluesy, progressive-leaning chugger that is more far-out than looming and menacing. Now, drummer Lars Ulrich has explained what he considers the important differences between these two tracks
Speaking to Sirius XM’s Eddie Trunk, as transcribed by our site-with-benefits Metal Injection, Lars explained what he believes to be the key distinctions between the two songs:
“Obviously the emotional component of ‘Orion’ with the Cliff element and the reciting of those words, those beautiful poetic words that he wrote toward the end of ‘Orion’ and that whole middle piece obviously is… it’s beautiful and so unique, unlike anything that obviously we had ever done before or pretty much done ever since. So ‘Orion’ obviously has a special place in my heart because of the Cliff factor, and always will.
“But again, ‘Ktulu’ was our first foray into, you know…Iron Maiden used to do instrumentals on their records. And even going back to Deep Purple, you know, and Mule and obviously classics like ‘YYZ’ from Rush and [Led] Zeppelin doing ‘Moby Dick’ and whatever. It was always intriguing, and maybe ‘Ktulu’s roots are a little more in sort of in the classical music component. But obviously ‘Orion’ has Cliff Burton stamp all over it. Which puts it in a very unique place.”
It’s interesting to imagine the moment that Metallica decided to go big and unorthodox with things, and that Iron Maiden is the band that comes to Lars’ mind (if only because Maiden’s instrumentals are very different from Metallica’s in my mind, and because Lovecraft definitely drives one in a bigger, more horrific direction, and Maiden were always about old Gothic horror and shit).
Anyway, listen to the two tracks below and judge for yourself.