[first listen] New Metallica track "Hate Train," unreleased from the Death Magnetic sessions

Last night kicked off the first of four METALLICA shows -- open only to members of the band's fan club selected in a lottery -- at San Francisco's Fillmore to celebrate the Bay Area metal gods' 30th anniversary.

Performing one of the sickest sets of their career, hooking back up with estranged bassist Jason Newsted, welcoming members of Saxon, Diamond Head, and Apocolyptica (and even the tech crew and a fan) to join in on songs showed precisely why the group can do a universally-panned shitfest with Lou Reed and still come out looking cool. And almost as a big middle finger to Lulu detractors (i.e. everyone with a set of working ears on the planet) ol' Met also dropped a never heard before song into the mix.

E-mailed to fan club members today and scheduled for an iTunes release next week, the seven-minute "Hate Train" was originally pulled from the sessions to 2008's Death Magnetic. And it's baffling that it didn't make the record in favor of something like "The Unforgiven III."

Before James Hetfield even unleashes his growl around the one minute mark, there's a chugging riff reminiscent of "Fuel" and a ridiculous solo by guitarist Kirk Hammett; quite a far cry from the banned solo days of the St. Anger era.

Echoes of "The Day that Never Comes" appear when things get all languid during a mid-point simmer, but another guitar solo brings it back on track, along with an Iron Maiden-esque dual six-string assault that delves into a sludgy avalanche which grinds to a crawl before speeding to an end.

Hetfield continues making the mistake of shooting for those notes he'll never reach, some questionable lyrics pop up ("Rage is a flame/Creates a touch to boil the seas") and for fans who complained of the oft-maligned Death Magnetic mix with its overly-compressed production, this isn't going to ignite a love affair.

Still, it shows that Metallica hasn't forgotten how to give its loyalists a bone to chew on when things are at their most-bleak. Rumor has it they're not done yet; three more anniversary shows could yield up to three more unreleased songs, or at the very least, the long hoped for live performance of "Frayed Ends of Sanity," from ...And Justice for All, in its entirety.

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