Metallica
Death Magnetic


3.0
good

Review

by Daniel Smith USER (21 Reviews)
September 14th, 2008 | 24 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A successful rebound effort from a band seemingly doomed to dwell forever in the realm of mediocrity.

“And when you see me strut, remind me of what left this outlaw torn,” vocalist James Hetfield howled on the closing track of Metallica’s 1996 album, Load. After a brief venture into the kingdom of mediocrity with 1997’s ReLoad, which suffered from more than blatantly-unoriginal album title, Metallica upped the ante by usurping the throne of their newfound dwelling place. Sworn into office with 2003’s St. Anger, Metallica crafted the quintessential example of a legendary band becoming slaves to their own apices. No doubt the last decade or so has been absolutely disastrous for the heavy metal band, following their infamous conflict with file-sharing network Napster, the critical failure of their recent studio efforts, and the perception among music fans that Metallica is a band to love to hate. That Metallica had the guts to release their ninth studio album, Death Magnetic, five years after the ridiculous St. Anger is a strut at its most obvious. A band’s got to be mighty proud to release new material in the wake of such failure.

However, Death Magnetic is not the comedy album of the year as some would have believed. Metallica’s ninth album is a thunderous rebound from their previous two attempts. Using a meticulously-prepared formula of tightly-constructed songs, thrashier riffs, pretension, and a departure from the lo-fi garage-band sound, Hetfield and Co. have attempted to recapture the sound scope of Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, and …And Justice for All while retaining a hint of the alternative direction they took in their 1991 self-titled record. In short, Metallica is trying with Death Magnetic to draw in both older fans and a newer audience at the same time. Perhaps this record is an attempt to start a clean slate on the band’s scratched and abused blackboard, and the thing is, the album isn’t terrible.

A lonely heartbeat opens the album with the abrasive “That Was Just Your Life,” and the song suddenly bursts into a furious festival of heavy riffing and drumming. The listener immediately realizes how clean and polished Metallica’s sound is compared to their previous album, and then Hetfield enters with some forgettable lyrics, a recurring occasion throughout the record’s mammoth 74-minute length. “That Was Just Your Life” features Hetfield delivering some half-baked similes and a chorus that is catchy because of the tune, not the words. The return of guitar solos is also marked in Death Magnetic’s thrashy opener, a return which is most welcome after St. Anger’s complete lack of solos. At seven minutes, “That Was Just Your Life” is a very listenable and tight song, and is a perfect indication of how the album sounds as a whole.

Besides Hetfield’s apparent lack of lyrical inspiration, Death Magnetic’s most notable flaw is in its singles. Excluding album closer “My Apocalypse,” which stands at a still-solid 5-minute length, all of the album’s singles are simply too long…way too long. Lead single “The Day That Never Comes” clocks in at nearly eight minutes, “The Judas Kiss” is eight minutes, and the ever-repetitive “Cyanide” is nearly seven minutes. Of the four singles, “My Apocalypse” is the best, and for good reason. Not only is it the shortest single (and also the shortest track on the entire album), but it is the most cohesive single. “The Day That Never Comes” is crippled by the fact that the song seems to be a deliberate parody of previous Metallica ballads, and it features Hetfield’s worst lyrics to date as well as a drawn-out, boring outro. “Cyanide” is a bland, repetitive track that is redeemed only by a slick bassline and memorable chorus. “The Judas Kiss” is just too long and uninteresting (except for the guitar solo), and fails to stand out among Death Magnetic’s other tracks.

The album’s strengths lie in non-single cuts “The End of The Line,” a quasi-funk-metal song with some captivating guitar work, “All Nightmare Long,” the best example of an ‘80’s Metallica track since, well, the ‘80’s, and “Suicide and Redemption,” the band’s first instrumental in many, many years. While these tracks are good, full of churning, chugging, and frantic guitars and Lars Ulrich’s best drumming since Metallica, they’re also all very similar in style. Indeed, a majority of this album focuses on a return to heavy metal, and, as a result, there is very little diversity in Death Magnetic.

So yeah, it’s not a bad album. It’s a good album; in fact, it’s the band’s best album since Load. However, as I said earlier, Death Magnetic is a sign of Metallica’s newfound strut. So, Metallica, let me remind you: you’re not invincible, you’re a group of prideful musicians, and this is your flaw. I see Death Magnetic as a perfect stopping-point for the band. They have redeemed themselves with this record, and it would be horrible to taint their legacy again. Welcome back to the ranks of accomplished musicians, Metallica, and tread carefully.



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user ratings (3966)
Chart.
3.2
good
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Drsmith4
September 14th 2008


1719 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Spent about two hours on this review. It's not my best writing, and definitely could use a little polishing in the next couple of days, but I think it accurately depicts my feelings towards this album.

bastard
September 14th 2008


3435 Comments


Good Work!This Message Edited On 09.14.08

ASberg
September 14th 2008


2161 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review but at this point this might just be a 4 to me, liking it more and more.

AtavanHalen
September 14th 2008


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

This review is far better than I expected it to be.

BadgerX
September 14th 2008


31 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good review, but I disagree with you on almost everything.

Willie
Moderator
September 14th 2008


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I guess I don't need to say anything else, he said it for me ^^^

Digging: Mors Principium Est - Dawn Of The 5th Era

Drsmith4
September 14th 2008


1719 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yeah, the reason for that is because I wrote the review on Word and copy/pasted it, forgetting I had to go back and space each paragraph separately. It was a minor mistake that I'll need to remember next time. But thanks for the positive feedback!This Message Edited On 09.14.08

Phantom
September 14th 2008


8930 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Lars' best drumming since Metallica


That really isn't saying much...It's still terribly mediocre.This Message Edited On 09.14.08

taylormemer
September 14th 2008


4953 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

What would any Metallica album be without boring drumming.

Phantom
September 14th 2008


8930 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Touche.

thesystemisdown
September 14th 2008


414 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Everybody talks about All Nightmare Long like it is the best song on the album or a particularly 80s-style song from these guys... I really didn't get that at all. I would call this album kind of a cross section of all the Metallica eras. My Apocalypse is kind of St. Anger-ish in the best way, while The Unforgiven III and Cyanide reflect a more Load/Reloadish sound, Judas Kiss and Broken Beaten & Scarred reminded me of And Justice For All a lot, etc. Overall the album gave me a strong AJFA/Black Album cross vibe along with some new elements, which is all I could really ask for and all the band said the album would be. Sorry for the semi sound off but I wanted to get it out there. Good review.

rasputin
September 14th 2008


14555 Comments


I never really noticed the boring drumming on earlier albums, but I guess I listened to them the most when I was 14. I can't stand the drumming on some tracks of this album.

Wizard
September 14th 2008


19641 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Lars Ulrich is one of the most overrated drummers in the history of heavy metal. Period!

Digging: Ash Borer - Cold of Ages

ninjuice
September 14th 2008


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Are you saying he doesn't have an ounce of talent because I hardly ever see people praising Lars.This Message Edited On 09.14.08

AtavanHalen
September 14th 2008


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

That roll at the end of The Day That Never Comes is a bitch to pull off.

Wizard
September 14th 2008


19641 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Are you saying he doesn't have an ounce of talent because I hardly ever see people praising Lars.

People around here sure hate him but I've met people who are constantly saying that he invented alot of the tricks of the trade...........blah blah blah exaggerate about Lars Ulrich. I think you get the point.

That roll at the end of The Day That Never Comes is a bitch to pull off.

Not really. Practice and a metronome my friend.This Message Edited On 09.14.08

AtavanHalen
September 14th 2008


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Lars' drumming just fits, it's not showy or overtly technical. But it doesn't really need to be.
And he does have his moments.

Willie
Moderator
September 14th 2008


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I really enjoy Lars' playing on ... And Justice For All. He does a really good job, it's really rhythmic and keeps the songs moving forward despite the fact that there really aren't a lot of riffs on that album.

AtavanHalen
September 14th 2008


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

That breakdown in One still rips.

Buildupnow
September 14th 2008


21 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Lars is not really overrated. Everyone knows he suck.



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