Review Summary: Metallica have improved from the last record. Instead of excruciatingly terrible, they are now boring. Bold progress!
Spinning the first notes of Metallica's new record Death Magnetic, there's one thing I notice: Metallica don't suck anymore! The opening song, "That Was Just Your Life", seems to have found a sense of groove that Metallica haven't shown in a long while. Sure, it is extremely reminiscent of a style Dream Theater used on their last record for "Constant Motion" (then, wasn't the complaint about that song that it sounded too much like Metallica?). It's hands down the best song they've done since anything off the Black Album, maybe even since ...And Justice For All. It thrashes instead of plods. It's got a sense of swing and timing. James (or should we call him Jaymz, like his mother asked us to) is yelling again, just like in the 1980s. Lars is still his annoying self hitting those skins with the semi-power he used to. ***, it almost sounds like we're back to Metallica making songs like "Blackened" again.
It's a ***en pity that the rest of the album isn't like that.
You heard that right. This album, like all Metallica records, suffers from that tragic half-thrash, half-metal syndrome. This is an album that plods. And plods, and plods. It's 75 minutes long, too. Metallica's art of songwriting, a trait that made the band such a revered force throughout the 80s, left for the Black Album, and has not been seen since. Yeah, there's a couple good songs on this record. But when you have cuts like "The Day That Never Comes" featuring some horribly annoying vocals from dear ol' James, riffs that put the listener straight to sleep, and the most cliche tempo-increase they've done, since, well, the one featured in every Metallica song that starts slow and ends loud, it's hard not to get completely in a snooze mood.
And it's like that for the complete duration of the album. Cool riffs and lines surface here and there, like on the kind of metal "The End of the Line", or the opening bit to "Broken, Beat & Scarred". But then in comes another riff that holds absolutely no interest, and the songs end up being far too long as a result. The Judas Kiss has a good chorus, but its runtime should have been four minutes instead of eight. Broken, Beat and Scarred suffers from a terrible second riff, following a semi-cool opening chugging midtempo barnburner. And Suicide & Redemption sure shows off lead axeman Kirk's chops, but at ten minutes it's more of a chore to listen to than "Orion" already is (and yours truly is one of those that found Orion unbearable.) It just feels like Metallica had good ideas lying around, but tried to go back to making the next Master of Puppets too eagerly and ended up with a severely bloated disc.
Vocally James is at his best, or worst, depending on how you look at it. The nice enunciation that was found on songs like "Nothing Else Matters" is nowhere to be seen, and he's gone the Tom Araya-at-45 route of spitting out vocal lines in rapid succession; yeah, he sounds gruff and kind of manly, but he just doesn't convince anymore; it's like an old dog croaking instead of a young one barking. It doesn't help that whatever James is saying lyrically is at best confusing and at worst utter trite; we don't want the band to bark out lines like "Suicide! I've already died!" You guys aren't Trivium, are you? At least in the old days, the lyrics were remotely vague or semi-cool ("For Whom The Bell Tolls" and "(Welcome Home) Sanitarium" jump to mind), but "we'll hunt you down all nightmare long" belongs in a high school band lyric sheet, and not in the booklet of a veteran metal band like Metallica are.
The truth is that most of the record isn't even that bad. Instead, it's just found a middle ground between the Black Album and Master of Puppets (or any 80s record for that matter.) The problem is that this half-tempo stuff just seems to fall in between everything. It's not really metal enough, not fast enough (as Lars' skin-thumping just doesn't have the visceral power of say, Lombardo or Hoglan), but it's also not groovy or short enough to have the songs be of sustained interest. It's got no staying power. It just hasn't got the complete overall impact. Metallica clearly tried to play it safe and reel in some of the old fanbase, and based on the overall sound they might gain some fans that they lost with St. Anger. But overall this isn't really anything to get worked up about. Yeah, it's better than the past few. Yeah, it might even be as good as the Black Album. It's not a return to form, no matter how hard the fanboys claim it might be. And even though the band have improved, they have a long way to go before (if ever) they get back to the level of ...And Justice For All. Here's hoping that the next record has more songs like "That Was Just Your Life."
It's a shitty review for a variety of reasons, not just because the album is pure gold.
The lyrics really aren't that bad, they definitely are an improvement over St. Anger and the Load-era. They are dark and very Metallica-ish.
Secondly, his vocals are excellent in most songs other than That Was Just Your Life, which honestly reminds me of a St. Anger song. The high cymbal, the mindless shredding, and the frentic vocals all remind me of St. Anger, so I don't know how that song can be one of your favorites on the album.
It's definitely metal; because if this isn't metal, then everything from the 80s thrash scene isn't metal. As usual for Metallica, it treads the water of metal and rock, and combines it in a nice progressive package.
It is a return to the 80s, despite what the critics say. After years of trying something new, everyone complains and gets their panties in a bunch. Name me an album that sounds like St. Anger, please? The album was truly original, but shat on in many aspects. So they did what the fans wanted them to do since the 80s, and now people are complaining because it's nothing new. WTF!? Metalheads are the worst kind of fans, they complain when you do and complain when you don't. Progression, anyone?
And I personally think it gets better with each listen. Most people agree with me, as well.
It is a return to the 80s, despite what the critics say. After years of trying something new, everyone complains and gets their panties in a bunch. Name me an album that sounds like St. Anger, please? The album was truly original, but shat on in many aspects. So they did what the fans wanted them to do since the 80s, and now people are complaining because it's nothing new.
Yes its orginal, its so bad no one ever got to that level of suckatude that Metallica did with that album. Orginal doesn't always = good, nor is that completely orginal. Its Metallica trying to ride a Nu-Metal trend that ended 5 years before it.