Death Magnetic



by FearOfTheDuck USER (18 Reviews)
April 5th, 2011 | 18 replies

Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Rumours of Metallica's demise have been greatly exaggerated.

When Metallica released their seminal “Black” self-titled album in 1991, they may have become the biggest band in metal, but they also gave themselves an Everest-sized mountain to climb. Their fifth opus was so huge, so important in the development of heavy music, that nothing the band could do from then on would be good enough. The “Load” and “Reload” double whammy were dismissed by fans of the band as too far removed from the thrashing metal of the past, while “St. Anger” was, quite frankly embarrassing. So while the band retained their pretty much untouchable status as the kings of heavy metal, they also had something to prove here.

Following another lengthy gestation period (which had become commonplace for Metallica albums following the self-titled), “Death Magnetic” had been billed as a return to the band’s complex, instrument-centric thrash metal of their early albums. In that respect, this album is a partial success, for the most accurate description of its sound would be “and Justice for All...” fed through the “Black Album” production machine. Though “Magnetic” doesn’t quite resurrect the brilliance of their mid 80s output, it certainly comes close in parts.

We kick off with “That Was Just Your Life”, a song that opens with some haunting guitar effects before ploughing straight into out-and-out thrash. While James Hetfield has never been the best singer, his snarling vocal style suits the aggressiveness of the material, while Kirk Hammett’s lead guitar work is the best he’s done in years, and one of the highlights of “...Your Life”, and other songs, is his incendiary soloing- wah-wah screaming out proudly. “The End of the Line” follows up strongly, riding a Pantera-esque groove before dropping into a wonderfully low-key bridge section.

On the opposite end is “My Apocalypse”, a runaway freight-train of a track packed with thunderous riffs and venomous hooks that stand as a throwback to the intensity of “Ride the Lightning”. There are many moments of brilliance on “Death Magnetic”, from the blistering instrumental outro of “The Day That Never Comes”, through the bouncing bass-driven riffs of “Cyanide” and on to the magnificent chorus of “The Judas Kiss”. But there also numerous problems with this album, and it’s these complications that prevent the album from reaching classic status.

There are of course, the typical Metallica complaints- Lars Ulrich continues his attempts to be the worst drummer in metal, while once again we get some lyrics so shockingly bad not even Fred Durst would consider them. And, like on St. Anger, the production of this album is sickeningly rough and, at times, down-right unlistenable. But another, more immediate concern is that “Magnetic” has failed to learn another lesson from its much maligned predecessor.

Quite simply, it’s too damn long. 10 tracks in 76 minutes comes out at an average song length of over 7 and a half minutes, and while sometimes the labyrinthine nature of the songs is justified, repeatedly across “Magnetic” do songs go on for far too long. “Broken, Beat and Scarred”, “The Judas Kiss” and instrumental piece “Suicide and Redemption” would all be significantly better if the band had just decided to cut about two minutes off of each one. The most boring moments are when the band drop the heaviness and try to resurrect the “Load” era soft rock. “The Unforgiven III” could easily be dropped from the album without much detrimental effect on the whole thing.

But when it’s good, “Death Magnetic” is very, very good. “All Nightmare Long” is a seven and a half minute track, not dissimilar to any of the other songs here. The difference is that “All Nightmare Long” is a bona-fide classic. For seven and a half glorious minutes, the band unleash riff after killer riff, never losing momentum, never dropping the ball. So brilliant is this song, it could sit on the band’s milestone classic album “Master of Puppets” quite confidently, and match up to any of the tracks on there. And if you can look past the hideously compressed production levels and unnecessarily mammoth song lengths, “Death Magnetic” is a fine release from a band who have finally rediscovered themselves.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is justice for all.

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user ratings (4776)
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...

    Thor (3.5)
    Metallica fuses Master of Puppets with The Black Album and finally starts kicking ass agai...

    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....

    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...

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

  • 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 
April 5th 2011



April 5th 2011


these guys should've quit while they were ahead a long time ago

April 5th 2011


Album Rating: 3.0

cuz this sure needed another review

April 5th 2011


Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

At least it's better than that stupid zipzop review.

April 5th 2011


This is even worse than radiohead.

Digging: Summoning - With Doom We Come

April 5th 2011


Album Rating: 4.0

Guy can review whatever he likes, so can anyone else

April 5th 2011


Album Rating: 4.0

Recently bumped all my Metallica ratings down by .5

This is a fantastic album. I just don't enjoy Metallica as much as i did about 2-3 years ago.

April 5th 2011


Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Love this album - great review makes good flowing reading.

April 5th 2011


Sure, in the same way that anyone can go jump off of a cliff, doesn't mean you should though

April 5th 2011


Album Rating: 4.0

Except reviewing whatever you like is neither maniacally suicidal nor incredibly retarded

I can't believe how much I have to say this, but here we go again: nobody has the right to be the reviews police. If it's well-written then who should give a flying fuck how many times the album's been reviewed? If it were wrong to write another review, there'd be some system in place which blocks any newer reviews after a certain amount has been written.

April 5th 2011


Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

It's equally pointless to be the review police police imo

April 5th 2011


Album Rating: 4.0

Broken Beat and Scarred rules.

April 5th 2011


here we go, wall of text rant alert

April 5th 2011


Album Rating: 2.5

hell yeah needz moar reviews

April 5th 2011


Album Rating: 3.0

"Rumours of Metallica's demise have been greatly exaggerated."

Nice touch there with the Rise Against reference.

Staff Reviewer
April 6th 2011


Album Rating: 3.5

I believe you mean Mark Twain.

Staff Reviewer
April 6th 2011


Think you'll find that Rise Against pre-dates MT Irving

Staff Reviewer
April 6th 2011


Album Rating: 3.5

Sigh. You remind me how my soon-to-be four years of university clearly hasn't taught me anything.

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