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.
2 months ago