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Released: 2008, Warner Brothers
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com Staff
Lord of the Wasteland's Review | Rating 4/5
So, the release of Metallica’s ninth studio full-length, DEATH MAGNETIC, is upon us and it will undoubtedly face the most scrutiny of ANY heavy metal release this year and perhaps even the band’s career. Coming off 2003’s god-awful ST. ANGER, there really was nowhere to go but up, however the new album finds Metallica making a serious stab at a return to form. Granted, this is not MASTER OF PUPPETS, KILL ‘EM ALL or even the self-titled record. If anything, DEATH MAGNETIC is the album that best sums up the last twenty years of Metallica’s career. With hook-filled choruses behind dark melodies that wouldn’t be out of place on LOAD and RELOAD, “The Day That Never Comes” and “Cyanide” crackle with an immediate catchiness powered by James Hetfield’s mighty riffing. The head-bobbing, straight-ahead grooves found on the fanbase-dividing METALLICA appear on “The End of The Line” and “The Judas Kiss,” whose main riff jumps out of the speakers like an Olympic sprinter. Unlike its predecessors “Orion” and “The Call of Ktulu,” a too-long instrumental (“Suicide & Redemption”) really drags down the last third of the album but to the band’s credit, the tempo shifts and Kirk Hammett’s progressive noodling make parts of it interesting. For the unfathomable latecomers to the ball who think RELOAD’s “Fuel” was Metallica’s stab at speed metal need look no further than the brilliant “My Apocalypse,” the closest the band has come to a mosh-ready neck-snapper since “Damage, Inc.” first sent high-tops flying. Many fans will also welcome the return of Hammett’s guitar solos, something sadly missing from ST. ANGER. Hammett rips out whammy-diving solos on “The Day That Never Comes” and “Cyanide” that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with some his finest shredding and fretboard wizardry. It must also be noted that with songwriting credit on each of DEATH MAGNETIC’s ten tracks, bassist Robert Trujillo accomplished something his predecessor, Jason Newsted, never did in a dozen years with the band and that is to crack the stronghold of the James Hetfield/Lars Ulrich writing team. Whether or not Trujillo brings more to the table than Newsted did musically remains to be proven but it is an odd coincidence that the only two tracks Newsted had a hand in writing—“Where The Wild Things Are” and “My Friend of Misery”—are also among Metallica’s worst. Unfortunately, some of the ST. ANGER-isms still rear their head, especially in the growled vocal style that Hetfield has now adopted and while not as profound as on the much-maligned previous album, Ulrich’s passive drumming style sounds flat and lacking punch. That being said, Ulrich and Hetfield do play off each other well musically and when they lock in with Trujillo on “Broken, Beat & Scarred,” the pedal-to-the-metal rhythm is irresistible. The songs on DEATH MAGNETIC are also long—REAL long, in fact, averaging over seven minutes apiece—and one could argue that some fat could be trimmed but besides the aforementioned “Suicide & Redemption” and a totally unnecessary third entry in “The Unforgiven” series, the album doesn’t drag. In fact, DEATH MAGNETIC motors along pretty nicely and with some careful programming of your favourite media player, the dead weight can be easily alleviated. Much like Slayer’s CHRIST ILLUSION did in 2006, DEATH MAGNETIC will give long-time Metallica fans who gave up on the band years ago something to get excited about again. Of course, there will always be the cynics who dismiss anything the band has done post-MASTER OF PUPPETS, but the fact remains Metallica is the biggest metal band in the world for a reason and there are a lot of moments found here to justify that title.
KILLER KUTS: “That Was Just Your Life,” “The End of The Line,” “Broken, Beat & Scarred,” “The Day That Never Comes,” “Cyanide,” “The Judas Kiss,” “My Apocalypse”
EvilG's Review | Rating 4/5
The new Metallica album, DEATH MAGNETIC dropped today, September the 12th. Some of you, like some of our staff, will likely question why we should bother covering the CD at all seeing as how this band has turned it's back on heavy metal for a long time. However, some of us were willing to give them a chance and share our thoughts on the album. For me, it is the band's ground breaking metal released in the 80's that reshaped the metal landscape as we know it that had me willing to give the album a listen. When reports emerged that the new Metallica was actually going to me a metal album, and one that wasn't shit, I ignored it as the hype machine around them has been anything but accurate. I ignored all the mission Metallica stuff, the live clips of the “new song” that people were talking about etc. To me, the band that existed in the 80's, the one that for several years I called my favorite band, was DEAD. So along comes DEATH MAGNETIC. I was told to check it out and with no expectations of anything good coming out of it, I took a listen to see if they would still suck as they have for the past ~20 years. When the first song played I felt quite weird. Guitar solos, real ones, heavy drumming, thrashy riffing....from...Metallica? Huh? It feels so alien to actually not hate what they are playing. As the CD unfolded, the amazement that this album doesn't suck was overwhelming. Even now after several more spins I am still more amazed that this doesn't suck than I am amazed at how good it is. Let's put DEATH MAGNETIC in perspective, it's nowhere near as godlike as the band's 80's era but to these ears it's easily the best album since AND JUSTICE FOR ALL. It also not like it's way above what Metallica's peers have been doing or what other bands have done in their absence from the realm of relevant metal. For fans who haven't heard hardly a new band since 1990, they are probably gonna lose their minds over this album. For those of us who've moved on, I think most will be happy about Metallica's return, but the jaded side of me sometimes over thinks and says “too little too late”. Even though I wish the album was full of songs like “All Nightmare Long”, “My Apocalypse”, and "Broken Beat & Scarred" and that there are some unfortunate modern Metallica sounds poking through, I'm gonna take this for what it is...a decent Metallica album, and that in and of itself is surprising. Welcome back to the land of metal Metallica...we missed you, even if we got on fine without you.
Hanntu's Review | Rating 4/5
I refused to listen to any promo tracks, leaked releases or promos, official or unofficial, I even refused to read any of the build-ups on the forums and the WWW. Fresh ears. And these fresh ears are telling me that Metallica, to all intents and purposes, are back playing metal again. Yes, after that angsty hardcore-ish self-indulgent abomination that was ST ANGER (*spit), DEATH MAGNETIC will be lauded as the best of post-1990 Metallica. I’d even rank it above BLACK, although this may be because BLACK followed four great thrash albums, and DEATH MAGNETIC follows…a string of pop-rock, country-rock, covers, symphonic dalliances, and pure crap. Some quick thoughts on DEATH MAGNETIC, since this is a staff review:
1. Most of the songs are way too long. They’re not instantly memorable, although give me some time and I’m pretty sure they’ll stick. Still too long and flabby.
2. Solos are back, although Kirk is still the serial wah abuser.
3. James sounds okay, although I still don’t like the southern-rock style he’s adopted around the LOAD era onwards. On ‘Unforgiven III’ he even sounds slightly emo.
What can I say? Everyone will have his/her own opinion on it. For me, Metallica got me into metal and that will always count for something. DEATH MAGNETIC, if you listen to it with an open mind, is a good metal album that most bands would be proud to have in their back catalog.
Luxi's Review | Rating 3.5/5
I stopped listening to Metallica right after their controversial self-titled album (AKA BLACK ALBUM). In my opinion, LOAD was, to put it bluntly, a pile of shit - not even mentioning their RELOAD album that followed a year afterwards. Metallica was officially over to me - having sacrificed themselves at the altar of musical commercialism, selling the band´s metallic soul for a good amount of $$$ - and completely forgetting all those true metalheads that had brought the band to the limelight because of what Metallica once was on their past albums: Metal!
Metallica desperately tried a “comeback” with ST. ANGER in 2003 to win some of their old fans back but truth be told, it was the same shit but in a different package.
In 2008, Metallica releases their ninth studio album, titled DEATH MAGNETIC, which is supposed to be the band’s shot at another comeback and a return to a more metal sound. Surprising many including myself, one of those abandoned Metallica fans, the band sounds like they should have sounded some seventeen years ago. I think it´s completely justified to ask whether their at least partial return to that classic sound they had become known for on albums like MASTER OF PUPPETS and ... AND JUSTICE FOR ALL comes just a bit too late?
Whatever the answer may be, I wouldn’t have ever guessed I would bother to check out another new album from Shi..., I mean, Metallica but since the hype about DEATH MAGNETIC was something unheard of—and in a surprisingly positive way—I couldn’t resist the temptation, no matter how hard I tried.
Much to my suprise, DEATH MAGNETIC sounds actually much better than I could have ever expected. It sounds like the guys have been driven to write some decent-sounding metal songs again rather than betray and disappoint legions of old Metallica fans for selling one more load of shitty songs and earning another pocketful of millions.
I haven’t made my mind up yet whether I should really believe Metallica are actually “back” and aiming to please their fans with the good old-fashioned Metallica vibe that they have managed to capture for their songs on DEATH MAGNETIC. But damn, I cannot deny the fact that such songs as “That Was Just Your Life”, “The End of the Line”, “Broken Beat & Scarred”, “All Nightmare Long” and “My Apocalypse” all sound good to me (did anyone else notice James sounds a bit like Tom Araya in the latter?). This is the sound of the one and only true Metallica that I have honestly been missing for the last seventeen years. James hasn´t sung this well for many years and some of his riffs even have a real tastefully done, thrashy feel to them. Most of Kirk´s solos on DEATH MAGNETIC are really nicely executed, so I sincerely need to tip my hat for his achievements with his soloing stuff on the album, too.
However, the main problem Metallica faces is they write songs that are way too long when they could easily be cut to four or five minutes, tightening the overall impact for listeners. The album´s only instrumental song, “Suicide & Redemption”, reaches almost ten-minutes in length, which is totally ridiculous and unnecessary. “The Unforgiven III” should have been totally left out from DEATH MAGNETIC, as the song doesn’t go anywhere and it just reeks of lifelessness.
I’ve still been listening to the new Metallica album (actually this is my fourth day in a row) and while it’s such a strange thing to say that I’m enjoying DEATH MAGNETIC even this much, I think it’s worth at least 3.5 out of 5 maximum points. Maybe there’s still some hope left for Metallica - who knows? Time will surely tell...
1. That Was Just Your Life
2. The End Of The Line
3. Broken, Beat & Scarred
4. The Day That Never Comes
5. All Nightmare Long
7. The Unforgiven III
8. The Judas Kiss
9. Suicide & Redemption (Instrumental)
10. My Apocalypse
James Hetfield - Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Kirk Hammett - Lead Guitar
Robert Trujillo - Bass
Lars Ulrich - Drums