Death Magnetic



by Thor USER (73 Reviews)
September 12th, 2008 | 175 replies

Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Metallica fuses Master of Puppets with The Black Album and finally starts kicking ass again.

Metallica has become just as much of a punchline as a band name over the past decade. The band’s incredibly loyal fans have sat back and watched the band sabotage itself for well over fifteen years. Sure, it made their older material seem like classics in comparison, but I’m just making lemonade out of lemons here. The Load/Reload cycle was an unwelcomed fusion of blues and gut-busting rock and roll, and St. Anger has been said by many to be one of the worst albums ever released in the metal genre. I’m not about to disagree with any of these claims.

It’s about time Metallica released something worthwhile. With the exception of songs like “Bleeding Me”, “The Unforgiven II” and “Fuel”, Metallica has truly been in the ***ter. While Death Magnetic isn’t the band returning to full form, it certainly comes damn close.

There really aren’t that many tricks to this album; it’s for the most part the typical Metallica thrash-metal and hard rock hybrid that we heard on The Black Album. The riffs are just as furious as ever, as you’ll hear on the album’s particularly fast and occasionally groovy first song, “That Was Just Your Life”. This song is for the most a very accurate representation of what you’ll be hearing for the rest of the album: thrashy verses fused with catchy choruses that I’m sure will become fan favorites at the band’s upcoming live shows.

James Hetfield is really at the top of his game here and is by far the most interesting and entertaining member of Metallica. His vocals have mostly lost that “yeah-hah!” sound that has become just as hilarious as they are annoying, though you’ll still hear them in small doses. James’ voice carries plenty of melody while having plenty of attack. I’m pretty confident and saying it’s his best vocal performance to date. While the lyrics aren’t exactly great, I challenge you to not sing along to the chorus of “All Nightmare Long”, which has now become one of my all time favorite Metallica songs.

But where Metallica has always shined is the riffs. Flat out entertaining riffs. With an album that’s over seventy minutes long, you’ll get more than enough to keep you entertained for weeks. They’re nothing incredibly different from what you’ve heard on past Metallica records, though there are a few new tricks here and there. There’s plenty of thrash riffs to please all the diehard Burton-era fans as well as a good helping of mid-tempo groove reminiscent of songs like “Sad But True” and “My Friend of Misery”. Every once in a while you’ll be treated to either really catchy or flat out strange harmonization (Cyanide and The End of the Line, respectively). But perhaps the greatest example of riff mastery is the band’s instrumental, “Suicide and Redemption”. While it’s no “The Call of Ktulu”, that doesn’t mean it’s not fat out fun to listen to. There’s a great main groove going on throughout, a great bass line, as well as a solo by Hammett that’s easy to listen to! It’s one of this year’s choice cuts and worth any metal fan’s attention.

This album is certainly deserving of praise, but it’s not without its obvious flaws, like the overly long songs. Many of the songs could stand to be a minute or two shorter. And yes, we all know Lars Ulrich’s drumming is boring and Kirk Hammett dry humps his wah pedal whenever he takes a solo. These are the things that it’s easy to point out whenever you listen to Metallica, but these things seem to always be downplayed on here. The drumming is rarely ever the focus of any of Death Magnetic’s ten tracks, so it’s more than easy to ignore. Lars basically just keeps the song moving and nothing more, and I’m not complaining. Hammett’s solos are usually a nuisance, but the riffs behind them are usually very solid and just as easy to focus on. Trujilo’s bass, when you can hear it, is always crunchy and thick, but it’d be nicer to hear it much more often.

What really makes Death Magnetic shine is that it’s very familiar, but it always keeps you guessing. Metallica uses essentially the same album format that they had on albums like Master of Puppets and Ride the Lightning: opening with thrash, then a slow song, more thrash, an epic instrumental, and then a scorching closer. “The Day That Never Comes” definitely conjures up memories of “One”, while still having that hard-rock sound found on Reload. “My Apocalypse” essentially Metallica trying to give us another “Damage, Inc.” and it’s pretty obvious what “The Unforgiven III” reminds everyone about.

Metallica’s back, that’s for sure. Hetfield shows that he’s still got plenty of potential to write quality metal songs and not the drop-c, tin can snare garbage that was released five years back. There aren’t that many tricks to Death Magnetic, it’s just flat out fun to listen to. It’s a quality fusion of Master of Puppets and The Black Album that every past fan of Metallica can enjoy. In conclusion, Death Magnetic is one of the most surprising and entertaining listens of the year.

Suggested Listening:
All Nightmare Long
Suicide and Redemption
That Was Just Your Life
The Judas Kiss

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user ratings (4805)
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Dave de Sylvia STAFF (3.5)
    A fine album from a heavy metal juggernaut that might just be kicking back into gear....

    MarvellousG (4.5)
    Whilst often heralded as Metallica's return to form, Death Magnetic is a fantastic album i...

    Beauville88 (4)
    After being largely irrelevant for the past decade, Metallica returns with their best orig...

    kabster (3)
    A somewhat convincing return from a band that many had long since written off....

  • Drsmith4 (3)
    A successful rebound effort from a band seemingly doomed to dwell forever in the realm of ...

    ReturnToRock (3.5)
    Better than anyone dared to expect, but by no means a classic....

    TF141Soldier (3)
    The band's best album ever since ...And Justice For All....

    FearOfTheDuck (3.5)
    Rumours of Metallica's demise have been greatly exaggerated....

  • doomsdaym (4)
    What took the Metal Gods so long??...

    Zipzop5565 (5)
    The year is 1983. One man, a bitter, broken, beat, scarred, shamed, lifeless shell of what...

    BadgerX (3.5)
    Is it as good as Master of Puppets? Maybe, maybe not. Is it any good? It's great....

    Altmer (2)
    Metallica have improved from the last record. Instead of excruciatingly terrible, they are...

  • Dishpan (4.5)
    They are well and truly back....

    mark1991 (2.5)
    Not the final nail in the band's coffin...That comes later...

    skeletorissatan (2.5)
    An album that never strives to go anywhere and feels too mixed...

    gingerfish (3.5)
    Metallica isn't back just yet, but they're on their way....

  • pogostick1 (3)
    There is life in the old dogs yet. But how much is yet to be determined......

    SeanOnFire (4)
    Metallica definately deliver the goods with a triumphant near return to old glory...

    matthew36 (4)
    Back in the fold again....

    BassPlaya008 (3)
    Metallica is back. Somewhat....

  • MetallicaRTL7214 (3.5)

    HollywoodConstantine (3)
    Metallica is back to their roots. The record sounds like a combination of "...And Justice...

Comments:Add a Comment 
September 12th 2008


Album Rating: 4.5

Strange how come this isn't showing on the metallica page.

Good review.

September 12th 2008


Great review..brilliant album..production isn't too great though...the snare distorts a lot

EDIT: I must add that "That Was Just Your Life" is amazingThis Message Edited On 09.12.08

September 12th 2008


Album Rating: 3.0

Album artwork isn't showing up and it's also not showing up on the band's page. Help mods?

Digging: Portal - ION

September 12th 2008


I'll get to this eventually, nice review though. Metallica as a whole never really caught on with me as much as Maiden and Danzig did.This Message Edited On 09.12.08

Digging: Negative Gemini - Body Work

September 12th 2008


Excellent review,may or may not write one myself,I still have to listen through it once or twice more.But it is definitely something of a return to form,but i doubt we'll ever get another MoP.However,Metallica have aged gracefully and I do hope they make another album or two,because:

1.I really think having heard songs like Suicide and Redemption and All Nightmare Long,they still have it in them to write some great songs and

2.Metallica will always be one of my all-time favourite bands.

While not musical perfection,Death Magnetic is definitely what most fans have been waiting for,and is certainly a contender for album of the year and countless other awards to come.Fair play to the boys,they still have it!

September 12th 2008


This album would be a lot better imo if the songs had been shortened down. A lot of them go on too long for what they offer. Also, I think Kirk should be let go. His solos are atrocious. Every one of them.

September 12th 2008


^^ No...but i think he should back off the Wah a bit

September 12th 2008


Album Rating: 2.0

Great review, but I thought this album was rather boring.

September 12th 2008


Good fair review. I'm really enjoying this album, as you said, very fun to listen to.

September 12th 2008


Album Rating: 4.5

awesome album!! best album of theirs since AJFA. And yeah, I put up the album art and stuff on the metallica homepage and its gone, please put it back up? lol nice review also, That Was Just Your Life is my favourite song off DM.

September 12th 2008


That Was Just Your Life is my favourite song off DM.

Same its just so awesome...BTW Rust in Peace has 666 votes :O

September 12th 2008


Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

this album has a lullaby character

September 12th 2008


Album Rating: 1.0

I saw this at Best Buy today and I just walked right by it and said meh lol.

September 12th 2008


I've already played suicide and redemption on guitar hero 4 times. Awesome song.

September 12th 2008


Album Rating: 3.5

Definitely the best Metallica album in the last 20 years. Lot of fun to listen to. "All Nightmare Long" effing smokes.

September 12th 2008


looks like this is getting a very polarized reception

September 12th 2008


Album Rating: 3.5

above my expectations

September 12th 2008


Anyone else think Lars's drumming is pretty solid on this CD

September 12th 2008


Album Rating: 3.5

you summed it up pretty much perfectly. Its just fun to listen to, and as atrocious as the lyrics are sometimes, I just cant help but find myself singing them to my self.

Low point of course is lars' drumming. That guy needs some lessons, or something... So boring to listen to!This Message Edited On 09.12.08

September 12th 2008


Anyone else think Lars's drumming is pretty solid on this CD

Lars is a bad drummer, and this album is just more proof of it.

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