4. Metallica, “Atlas, Rise!”
The best song on Metallica’s best album in 28 years finds the band going back to the music they grew up with, capturing that energy, and coming up with a track that shows they are big, nerdy fans just like the rest of us. They’re in full early-‘80s mode on “Atlas, Rise!”, the riffs sharp and melodic, the drums groovy, the bass deep in the pocket, the vocals assertive. As good as the first half is, things really take off during the solo break, which pays obvious homage to circa-1981 iron Maiden and early Mercyful Fate. The “back to basics” gimmick is such a cliché in music, but it can result in truly transformative moments, and in some cases kick off a creative rebirth. This song sounds just like that.