Release date: September 10, 2008
Genre: Thrash metal, Heavy metal
Label: Warner Bros., Vertigo, Mercury, Universal Music Japan
Before I start this review, let me tell you a couple of things about me so you can understand how I felt when listening to Death Magnetic. My first contact with Metallica was in 2003 during the Summer Sanitarium Tour. My main reason for going there was to see Linkin Park live for the first time ever. I was a big fan of LP since Hybrid Theory came out when One Step Closer was a sleeper hit on MTV2 and the band hadn't made its way to TRL and mainstream audiences yet. Anyways, the tour had an impressive line-up with Deftones, Mudvayne, Limp Bizkit (who could still rock out a crowd even though their popularity was fading), Linkin Park, and of course Metallica. During this summer, their lead single for St. Anger (also titled St. Anger) was getting heavy rotations on TV stations and the radio. Needless to say, after that show, I was instantly hooked. I couldn't understand why people hated St. Anger so much until I was tired of listening to it, and started to look for other bands. Then, I discovered Rammstein whose albums were a lot more up-tempo than St. Anger. A European friend of mine told me that Rammstein was the Germany's equivalent of Metallica. With that in mind, I got myself all of Metallica's old albums up until ...And Justice For All. It was then that I understood what Metallica was all about. Kill 'Em All, Ride The Lightning, and ...And Justice For All quickly became some of my favorite albums (Metallica a.k.a The Black Album and Master Of Puppets are great too but I prefer the rawness of Kill 'Em All and Ride The Lightning). When I heard that they were going back to their roots for Death Magnetic, I was both ecstatic and skeptic. Could they really become that band that became icons more than twenty years ago? Well, the answer is a resounding YES, and here's why.
When That Was Just Your Life started with heartbeats in the background along with a melody, I was a bit apprehensive at first. The opening notes sounded more of the same until the track hit the 1:35 mark. Then, the crazy instrumental suddenly appeared and I was at peace. Not only were they back to their high-tempo style, but the great solos also returned, each song having its own moment of brilliance.
The End Of The Line picks up the great instrumental bit and simply runs away with it. This song had crazy guitars, I counted at least four different guitar melodies on it. Of course, the 7:51 length probably helped in that regard. They could vary and spread out the riffs without having the song feeling like a bunch of riffs cut and paste together. At first listen, the track sounded familiar and that was very distracting for me because I couldn't quite put my finger on why it sounded like that. After racking up my brain, trying to remember all the Metallica songs, it dawned on me. The riff during chorus sounds a bit like Some Kind Of Monster's fifth verse where the tempo quickened a bit (the part where Hetfield sings “This is the cloud that swallows trust / This is the black that uncolors us / This is the face that you hide from / This the mask that comes undone").
Broken, Beat & Scarred is the kind of song you can use in a sports drink/apparel commercial with lyrics like "You rise, you fall, you're down then you rise again / What don't kill you makes you more strong." It's easy to see this song becoming an anthem for a professional team and/or to hear it get played in stadiums across the country.
I really liked the main guitar riff on The Day That Never Comes which is the album's first single. It's a slow song; there are two of those on the album – this one and The Unforgiven III. I don't know why but every time I listen to it, shades of Nothing Else Matters come to mind. Half the song is only instrumental with the lyrics ending at 4:45. They're probably making up for all the wasted minutes of St. Anger.
All Nightmare Long is straight up original Metallica. It's fresh, it's raw, it's fast, and it's hard. Once again, it feels like there's more instrumental than lyrics. To give you and idea of what it sounds like, picture their first album Kill 'Em All with a more sophisticated sound.
Cyanide is probably the most underrated song on this album. The lyrics are depressing, but the song is well-structured; a great track.
Where Cyanide is underrated, The Unforgiven III is an instant classic. This time around, they've added a piano, strings (violin, cello), and even some wind instruments to the mix to create a great song.
Hetfield's singing on The Judas Kiss sounds a bit like his work on Some Kind Of Monster. I feel like I'm repeating myself here, but, once again, great instrumental.
Suicide & Redemption is a ten-minute instrumental which rises in intensity in the beginning. You know, if the other tracks weren't as good as they are, I'd still give a perfect score to this album, just for this instrumental. Redemption... they got the title right.
Finally, the album ends with My Apocalypse. Again, the instrumental is vaguely familiar. It reminded me of Fight Fire With Fire, the first track on Ride The Lightning. It's a up-tempo song that ends the album on a high note. You'll replay the whole album again as soon as you're done.
I gave it away when talking about Suicide & Redemption, Death Magnetic deserves a perfect score – 5/5, 10/10, whatever... This is the kind of record that you'll play over and over again. I've already listened to it four times and memorized most of the choruses. It's also the kind of record that makes you want to pick up a guitar and play the songs. The metal gods are definitely back on the map. I can't wait for their tour to stop in Montreal.
On another note, I have no idea what to review next week. So, if anyone has a suggestion, just send me a comment below.
Download: Metallica - Death Magnetic 2008 mp3