Much of what is and what was Metallica has certainly changed since the tragic death of bassist Cliff Burton on September 27th, 1986 in Dörarp, Sweden. But one thing has and seems will always tactfully leave its mark in heavy metal music history. That being four years, three amazing thrash records, and a legacy that will undoubtedly live on forever. We can think of no other bass player who has defined the style, sound, and brute attitude of a genre of music in the way that Cliff Burton has.
While most metal bassist have extensive catalogs and far more diverse resumes, The body of work submitted by Cliff Burton was cut short to a select number of recordings with a single entity, Metallica. Despite the fact, Cliff’s playing has become so widely celebrated and influential that he clearly deserves the same praise often reserved for other in the field. His stellar technical ability, innovative approach, and musical contributions to Metallica made him one of the greatest bass players to ever lay hands on the instrument.
The following are two of the greatest musical contributions left to us by the late, great Metallica bassist, Cliff Burton. Thrash Out and ENJOY!
Featured on the 1986 Metallica album Master Of Puppets, the 8 minute instrumental ‘Orion’ is widely regarded as Cliff’s greatest composition. It is a multi part instrumental piece highlighting Burton’s masterful bass playing, where he used his God given talents in such a way that there are 2 bass solos in this song that are commonly confused as guitar solos.
A classically trained musician, Cliff Burton was crucial in the writing of ‘Orion’. The piece opens with a fade-in bass section heavily processed to resemble an orchestra, it continues with mid-tempo riffing and a bass solo. The tempo accelerates before ending with an epic fade-out. Burton also arranged the middle section, which features its moody bass line and multipart guitar harmonies.
Metallica – Orion – (Remastered)
‘Orion’ serves as a fantastic reminder of the glory days of the Metallica we all grew up with.
From the 1983 Metallica album Kill ‘Em All, the Cliff Burton bass solo performance, “Anesthesia—Pulling Teeth” will forever inspire bass players the world over to add effects to their tone, favor chords and arpeggios as compositional elements, and bask in the spotlight while the rest of the band leaves the stage. Burton begins the composition by outlining the harmony in a controlled and deliberate manner. As the themes develop, he integrates melodic flourishes, bends, and chords until Lars joins in the mix. At that moment, the song kicks into overdrive with flurries of notes, technically difficult riffs, register jumps, and screeching effects.
Metallica – Anesthesia—Pulling Teeth
“You don’t burn out from going too fast. You burn out from going too slow and getting bored.” – Cliff Burton