Before this album came out, people were really anticipating it. They were thinking it would be back to the roots of old Metallica, with the thrash, speed metal kind of stuff. In a way, it is. It many more ways, it isn't.
The CD comes in nice paper packaging with the CD, the bonus DVD (of them rehearsing every track), the booklet (which contains all lyrics and a picture of the band), and a slip of paper which gives you access to more Metallica music online.
The music is very heavy, no doubt metal, but I think they tried too hard when they were making it. They were trying to make it sound raw, agressive, and angry. But they ended up with raw, agressive, angry, and uninspired music. They simply overdid it. However this doesn't mean it's all bad.
What I like:
Instrumentals - Even though the production is horrible (which I'll get to later), I like the guitar riffs, and the drumming. It is very fitting for this kind of music, and Lars does a good job with the double bass.
Concept - They wanted heavier, more agressive thrash, and they tried. They deserve credit for that.
What I don't like:
Production - (or lack of). Cmon guys, you could have made this sound so much better if the production was good. The tin-can sound of the snare annoys the hell out of me. The guitars sound horrible in terms of production. They are low, and muddy while the drums are trebly and ringy. I read somewhere that Protools was used to copy and paste things within the music. Well, why? The songs sound choppy and repetetive because of that and the lack of content.
Hetfield's singing - I noticed that in several songs James tries to get to a note with his voice that he is simply unable to. Sometimes, I cringe because it feels like his voice is about to crack. Also, it is off-key a lot, and that doesn't help. Make the singing match to the instrumentals and it will sound so much better.
Lack of Solos - The lack of a guitar solo in a song does not automatically irritate me. I like many bands that solo very little and a song can still be wonderful without a solo. But on this album, I noticed many spots that could have been filled with a nice guitar solo, and it is such a shame that they weren't.
Once in a while, I will listen to this album. But, it is very hard to listen to the whole songs. They get boring, and choppy. If they improved the production, added a solo here and there, and told Hetfield to sing in key to match with the music all the time, it would have been an enjoyable record to listen to. It is only those specific things that make this album bad.
Favorite songs: All Within My Hands, Some Kind of Monster, Shoot Me Again