Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Death Magnetic: Can Metallica Rise from the Dead?

If the first song on this album isn't a reference to the fact that this is an effort to bring back the Metallica that died in the early 90s, then I'll eat my shorts. The organic sounds of a heartbeat, followed by what I like to call a "classic" Metallica intro (a slow, warbly rich guitar tone and the dum, da-da dum, dum of Lars's drumkit), is like breathing new life back into a band that I had all but given up for dead. Followed by—and excuse the expression—a fucking awesome drive and an almost natural (gasp!) evolution into a decent metal song strong with ripped riffs, the first track has me completely convinced that Metallica has come home, and it isn't even my favorite from the album. This isn't to say that they don't lose their way at some points in throughout album, because they do—I mean, seriously, can they just NOT have a bass player and save Robert Trujillo the indignity??—but that all takes a backseat to what I find the most satisfying part of this album: Kirk Hammett's solo extravaganza.

I stopped listening to Metallica after the Black Album. I liked the Black Album, but also note that when it came out, I was an 11-year-old girl stuck in Southern Suburbia—not the typical Metallica fan at that point. The Black Album was my induction into the earlier works they had produced that helped created the thrash metal craze. As I worked my way through Kill 'Em All, Master of Puppets, and the truly incredible ...And Justice for All, I understood why people had felt they had gone so far off course. (I can't name anything produced after 1991, because little metalheads everywhere lose their goathorns when anyone mentions those...disasters.) So in truth, Death Magnetic is rising from the grave for Metallica and their fans everywhere, and I hope they ride the lighting as far as it will go.

The album has its highs and lows, but for the most part it is a strong work that evokes "vintage Metallica": Solid riffs, breakneck tempos, long instrumental interludes and clean, crisp guitar solos (All Nightmare Long, the 5th track of the album, is a testament to how far they have come while retaining their Metallica-ness, and it is a headbanger's wet dream). But the lows are typical Metallica-bashing fodder: No hint of allowing the bass to come through (really, what is it about these guys and bass players?), the drumwork is decent at best, temporary lapses into a prog rock genre that they never really grasped, and lyrics that are bordering childish in their "metalness" ("catatonic overload," "slave becomes the master," and "tainted miser-AY" are just a few of the lyrical gems). But if you can look past those few foibles, you are really going to enjoy the ride. The songs are 7, 8, and 9 minutes long, there is a great blend of new sound contained within their classic 80s metal style, and the production is truly fucking amazing; I mean, seriously, this sound is fucking STACKED. For the first time in a long, long time, it feels like Metallica is going somewhere.

All Nightmare Long, from Metallica's Death Magnetic (2008)

Overall, I give Death Magnetic 4 out of 5 goats. Not too shabby for a metal band I had committed to the grave over 15 years ago.


Anonymous said...

You forgot Ride The Lightning.

rayray said...

I was really really really hesitant about this album. I don't like the first release either, but then I heard "Broken, Beat, and Scarred." It still sounds too much like a throwback to their 80s heyday, but I can really jam to that song.

I used to be in the Metallica fan club. I've seen them in concert twice. I own all of their albums. The first song I learned how to play on the guitar was "Fade to Black." I am an avowed fan.

And I absolutely loved Load and ReLoad.

I said it. Great hard rock albums. Especially Load. "Bleeding Me" is possibly their best written song, in terms of lyrics, tempo, and just the overall product.

But yeah, Metallica is back. Now we can forget St. Anger ever even existed.

The Kilted Yaksman said...

Much like there is only ONE Highlander movie, Metallica stopped releasing albums after Master of Puppets. I wonder where they've been all these years...

Duane said...

But what make you of the coffin vagina gracing the cover?

MelodyLane said...

Rayray, I will defend Load. I have issues defending ReLoad. Load really was not that bad, at least until you happened upon Avril Lavigne "singing" "Fuel" from that album.

My intro to Metallica was "One" from ...And Justice For All. That song remains my absolute favorite. I loved everything until the abysmal Garage Inc. Then came Metallica therapy session, St. Anger, which I think made the Dark Prince himself cry, and all that along with the Napster debacle and the ridiculously pathetic attempt at a promo for their concert stop here, I can't forgive them. Not yet.

Boo, fabulous post, but Metallica remains on my "Artists whom I no longer acknowledge" list.

I will also argue that the S&M double disc album is a their best work post the Black album.

kamp said...

I am overjoyed that metallica finally got over their huge mistake of having Bob Rock at the helm for so many years.
Rick Rubin is probably one of the best choices in music today but I cant help but have some seriously violent wet dreams about the Curcio/Zazula production team of the Kill 'em All days!

And if James could only write lyrics like those in 'shortest straw' from ...justice. 'live in infamy, rub you raw, witchhunt riding through, shortest straw... This shortest straw has been pulled for you.

Great review boo. You hit the proverbial nail on the fuckin head. RIP Cliff Burton and old metallica. Long live at least the idea of sounding like old metallics. It does work.

TK said...

I agree, after listening to this... it's pretty damn good. However, I have to re-state my opinion that Justice is far from their best album (IMO). For me, the order will always go:

Master of Puppets
Kill 'Em All
Ride the Lightning
And Justice For All
Death Magnetic

Everything else never existed, as far as I'm concerned - other than Garage Days, which is just fun.

Boo said...

anonymous: Wow. I did, didn't I.

rayray: I, too, was hesitant, but listening to this album over and over to write the review totally solidified it for me. You're right about Load being a decent hard rock album, but that isn't what I look for from Metallica. St. Anger WHO? I'm sorry, I couldn't hear that last thing you said...

yaksman: Ok, you really outed yourself with the Highlander movie reference there, bud. Much respect and love from Boo Corner.

duane: HA ha ha! That would be one scary-ass vagina. I like my 'ginas with plenty of curtains, thankyouverymuch.

melodylane: The S&M disc saved them for me. Because I was about two whiskeys away from shooting Lars myself after that Napster debacle. But what can you expect from a fucking failed tennis player? All 5 feet of him. (I'm clearly not a Lars fan, even though my friend Bill says he is a very nice chap.)

kamp: Totally agree with the Rick Rubin sentiments. Sometimes you can't blame it all on the musicians.

TK: Nice order there, buddy. I can't really order my favorites, because it is totally dependent on my current musical mood. But, yeah, it is a pleasant surprise that they could come out with this album now. Long time a-coming, oh lord.

Jez said...

I second TKs list. Although I haven't heard this new one and probably won't. They peaked at "Puppets." I think I might have to post my own "history of Metallic" post (yeah, I left off the 'a'), since I actually was in 9th grade when "Kill 'Em All" came out, and I owned it then. Yeah, that's right, I'm an old man.

Anonymous said...

Metallica - Death Magnetic (2008)

Track listing

1. "That Was Just Your Life" 7:08
2. "The End of the Line" 7:52
3. "Broken, Beat & Scarred" 6:25
4. "The Day That Never Comes" 7:56
5. "All Nightmare Long" 7:57
6. "Cyanide" 6:39
7. "The Unforgiven III" 7:46
8. "The Judas Kiss" 8:00
9. "Suicide & Redemption" 9:57
10. "My Apocalypse" 5:01


Genuine 320kbps mp3 download from Mission Metallica


The following was ripped from my own CD, purchased 09-12-08

mp3@192kbps CBR rip


FLAC (Lossless) rip


Guitar Hero III verison ripped from the video game

Track listing

1. "That Was Just Your Life" 7:06
2. "The End of the Line" 7:57
3. "Broken, Beat & Scarred" 6:28
4. "The Day That Never Comes" 7:55
5. "All Nightmare Long" 7:55
6. "Cyanide" 6:36
7. "The Unforgiven III" 7:47
8. "The Judas Kiss" 7:58
9. "Suicide & Redemption" 9:53
10. "My Apocalypse" 4:57
11. "Suicide & Redemption" [James Herfield Solo Version][*] 9:52
12. "Suicide & Redemption" [Kirk Hammett Solo Version][*] 9:53

mp3@320kbps CBR


Metallica - Demo Magnetic (2008)

Track listing

01. Hi Guy (That Was Just Your Life)
02. Neinteen (The End Of The Line)
03. Black Squirrel (Broken, Beaten & Scarred)
04. Casper (The Day That Never Comes)
05. Flamingo (All Nightmare Long)
06. German Soup (Cyanide)
07. UN3 (The Unforgiven III)
08. Gymbag (The Judas Kiss)
09. K2LU (Suicide & Redemption)
10. Ten (My Apocalypse)

ripped to mp3@320kbps CBR