Review Summary: What took the Metal Gods so long??
Genre: ThrashHeavy Metal
Playing Time: 72:42 minutes
With every Metallica album, comes a lot of hype and expectations. With all 4 band members in their mid forties, it is more about making a successful comeback after a near end for the band. So, did the Bay area thrashers meet the expectations of metalheads of this century? The name of their album was revealed sometime in August. “Death Magnetic”…...that is cool so is the album artwork. A few songs leaked much before the official release date. Amidst all chaos, the album was finally released on the 12th of September 2008. The album is now subject to music critics and angry thrash metal fans who abandoned Metallica once they released the Black Album, Load, and Reload and to make matters worse, St. Anger. There are just 2 songs which clock less than 7 minutes. Let’s judge this album track by track.
The album opener, “That Was Just Your Life” starts with sound of the heartbeat and then plunges into groovy and thrashy riffs. The song takes you back to the days of “…And justice for all” and continues without losing speed and momentum. So, that was a good start.
The next track “The End Of The Line” is an interesting one. It has a very good intro, neo thrash riffs and a memorable chorus. James constantly picks speed and the dual guitar shredding with Kirk is awesome. At some parts, they sound like the post thrash metal bands like Pantera and Machine head. This one would sound even better when played live.
“Broken, Beat & Scarred” is another good track. It starts gently and jumps into a sequence of crushing guitars and thundering drums. James Hetfield then delivers the chorus “what don’t kill ya, make ya more strong” announcing a strong comeback from the group.
Next we get “The Day That Never Comes”, a half ballad half thrasher. It was released as the lead single of the album. The track starts very gently as James uses his clean vocals to add some melody and continues with the same tempo till the 3.5-4.0 minute mark. Then, the song blends itself into thrash riffs, fast paced guitar solos and fast drums. It easily reminds us of “One” (…And Justice for all). This one is certainly the highlight of this album and was rightly released as the lead single.
“All Nightmare Long” has an intro similar to the very popular “Enter Sandman” (The Black Album), but, even before you realize, it throws itself into a fast paced thrasher with some well written lyrics and fine vocals. The outcome is an amazing track meant for head banging and moshing.
Up next is “Cyanide”. This is easily one of their weaker tracks on this album and sounds like a rip off from “St. Anger”. The song starts off with groovy riffs which are repetitive and Lars can be easily heard on the snare drum which does no good to this track. One good thing is Rob Trujillo’s bass work can be heard unlike the other tracks. All in all, it’s an average song.
The next track has a very confusing title “The Unforgiven III”. After listening to it, one thing I can be sure about is, it’s not a rehash of the radio friendly “The Unfogiven” (The Black Album) or the “The Unforgiven II” (Reload). I must appreciate Metallica Boys for having the guts to release a track bearing the same name as its unanimously criticized predecessors. This song, although better than the previous versions, is another weak link. It certainly has a fair intro, catchy chorus and a fine solo delivered by Kirk, but somehow seems like a misfit in this album.
“The Judas Kiss” is a fine track with more elements of groove metal. It is easily the most enjoyable track and tends to stay in the listeners mind for a long time. The riffs and drums have been repeated very smartly. The best thing about this track is that, it never loses pace and at times even steps up the momentum. This one is meant to be played live.
“Suicide & Redemption” is an instrumental which crosses the 10 minute mark. I am really glad that Metallica showed some intelligence at last. It took them almost 20 long years to produce a fine instrumental track. This one isn’t as great as “Orion” (Master Of Puppets), but certainly tends to hold you till the end due to its complexity and variation throughout the track. This is one track where every individual gives his best.
“My Apocalypse” is the perfect way to finish with a bang. This one is brutal, out and out thrash song with fast guitars, blasting drums and fiery vocals and reminds me of the epic “Battery” and “Damage, Inc.” (Master Of Puppets). It just takes off from the start and gives you no time to breathe. An absolute treat for thrash metal followers.
Lars Ulrich (Drums): This is definitely one of his finest and smartest pieces of drum work after “…And Justice For All”. It’s a massive improvement over the disastrous snare drums that he used in St Anger.
James Hetfield (Guitars): He is the clear winner in this album. He sounds powerful and exceptional, although he does not sound the way he did 20 years ago. Be it his lyrics, vocals and fiery guitar riffs, he sets high standards throughout. James continues to be the dominant force of the band and Death Magnetic has him written all over it.
Kirk Hammet (Guitars): Finally the solos are back! This time he leaves no stone unturned and plays epic solos in every track as if he is seeking vengeance for the exclusion of solos from “St. Anger”. This is one of his most complex and finest performances and he once again proves that no one uses the wah wah pedal better than him. It was a treat to hear him play.
Rob Trujillo (Bass): This is his debut album with Metallica and he doesn’t disappoint. His contribution in the album is easily noticed. With due respect to Jason Newsted, I must say Rob is a better fit after the legendary Cliff Burton.
•Signs of return to thrash metal and lesser elements of mainstream hard rock music.
•Excellent thrash riffs and guitar solos.
•Top notch thrash metal lyrics.
•Fierce and barking vocals accompanied by smart drum work.
•Enter Rick Rubin, Exit Bob Rock.
•The Age factor: Lars’s age is showing on his drum work and the same shows on James’s voice.
•The production could have been a lot better.
Metallica have successfully powered themselves back into the thrash metal arena. They have proved that there is no other band that can match their stature once they get going, and the new bands emerging around them are just a bunch of jokers. “Death Magnetic” is easily their best album post “…And Justice For All” and with this, they have raised the bar. Metallica can do better and expectations for a better album have already started growing.