Death Magnetic is a hit

I recently got a chance to listen to Metallica’s new Death Magnetic before the official release date.  I can now say that the band is back and that this album is a worthy successor to 1991’s The Black Album.  Given the long time between these two albums, it’s amazing anyone remembers the band. I am, of course, ignoring the commercial albums Metallica put out that pushed me away from the band: Load, ReLoad, Garage Inc (1st disk), S&M, and the ugly cap to it all, St Anger.  Prior to that, they had put forth the milestone albums Kill Em All, Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets (Best Album Ever), The $5.98 E.P.: Garage Days Re-Revisited, And Justice for All.  Somewhere around the time of The Black Album, things began to derail.  I remember that album being the first one where I started to skip songs in the album because they seemed like they were a little too commercial for me.  I turned to heavy songs form bands like Korn, System of a Down, Black Label Society, and Machine Head to fill the gap.

St Anger was so bad that I finally wrote the band off for good.  So why am I here listening to another Metallica album, giving them another chance?  This album is the polar opposite of St. Anger!  I heard “The Day that Never Comes” on the radio and thought “wow, they’re back.”  This is the first album with Robert Trujillo on bass, and his playing keeps up with the Metallica of old.  The Metallica of Cliff Burton.  Thankfully it is also without Lars Ulrich’s empty oil cans for drums, and  marks the return of guitar solos.  Here is the song breakdown and short impressions for each.

1. That Was Just Your Life – Starts out slow and ominous, and quickly gets traction.  I hear legendary things reminiscent of Battery and Blackened in the beginning of this one.
2. The End Of The Line – Sounds a bit like Harvester of Sorrow here.  Is this a Puppets retake?  Hard hitting.
3. Broken, Beat & Scarred – Sounds a bit like Shortest Straw at the start.  At first I thought this seemed like a left over from St Anger, but it’s grown on me.
4. The Day That Never Comes – This is the big radio play hit.  It sounds like they were aiming for a ballad at the start with a bit of a commercial feel, but it quickly picks up into a mosh pit frenzy.
5. All Nightmare Long – For me, this is the star of the album.  It starts out with a really grooving baseline and then just picks up until the end of the song without quitting.  This feels closer in theme and sound to Damage Inc.
6. Cyanide – This song is pretty iffy.  Seems like a bit of standard metal filler.  Sometimes I feel like skipping this one.
7. The Unforgiven III – This is the ballad of the album.  Still not sure how I feel about it.  It’s catchy, but the title seems a link to things I’d rather forget.  Maybe that’s just it, though.  I’ll keep it on my iPhone until I get a feeling either way.
8. The Judas Kiss – I started out really not liking this one.  For me it falls into a class of average plodding Metallica songs like And Justice for All, Eye of the Beholder, The Shortest Straw, Harvester of Sorrow, The Frayed Ends of Sanity.  But on their best days, a lot of bands can’t live up to Metallica’s average days, so it stays.
9. Suicide & Redemption – An instrumental!  Hey, it’s no Orion, Call of Ktulu, or To Live is To Die, but it’s still a very nice piece!  The guitar solos are back, and this one, although a bit repetitive, is a keeper.
10. My Apocalypse – It really wants to be a Damage Inc or Dyer’s Eve, but it’s not really in that league.  I like it, but Damage Inc happens to be one of the heaviest songs, one of the best ways to finish an album I’ve ever heard, and one of my absolute metal favorites.  Still, a good end to the album.

Overall, it seems like this album wants to be Puppets, Justice, or the Black album by following the same familiar formula that those albums metal masterpieces.  The band’s recent admission that their lifestyle of riding around in helicopters all the time makes it impossible to get into the mindset they were in when they wrong those old albums, is at least more honest than other bands that end up having material written for them.  They know what’s wrong, and that’s part of getting to a solution.  The lyrics are not stellar, but the playing has come back to what I love and that’s another step in the right direction.  The next album, maybe 5 years from now, will either be another winner or revert back to the commercial line of thought they were runnnig to.  They seem to have come up with a winner here, and Death Magnetic will be going into heavy rotation on my iPhone.  Thanks boys!


2 thoughts on “Death Magnetic is a hit

  1. I heard it somewhere on the net. It really did sound much better.That Dublin tour date really sounds hot – wish I could fly over for it.

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