(Warner Bros. Records, 10 tracks, Total playing time 74 minutes 42 seconds, Reviewed by Adam McAuley)
This album was quite a astounding in that it made up for the rather bitter efforts of recent material from St. Anger and others which didn't stir up attention as well as the new work. I found it to be excellent in its crunchy new riff-laden approach. It may not measure up to efforts like …And Justice for All in its metallic character and thrashy stylings, even though it has a brash enough standpoint on its own. Death Magnetic features the usual array of slightly more aggressive songs surrounded by a couple of ballads, though there are less distinctive qualities of heaviness to be found here.
The playing on this album is restrained enough for great clarity, but at the same time heavy enough to make one headbang like during the early days did. Instead of featuring a lazy radio-driven type of standpoint as was seen on the Loads to St. Anger, we can see the album take on a decidedly more heavy metal standpoint overall. This facet of the album is a bright spot for the band as we want want to welcome them back into the world of metal steadily again.
Standout cuts on the album include track 4 and 5. The latter, "All Nightmare Long" contains a rousing chorus with some of the better singing we’ve seen from Hetfield altogether and manages to set your mind on fire to some extent. "The Day That Never Comes", the earlier track, is a winding ballad that enraptures you to almost as great an extent as songs like "Fade to Black" did in the past. These songs are memorable and carry enough momentum to win you over.
How does this album compare to recent works by the likes of Testament for example? We can see a greater presence here as compared to recent works by Metallica, but the album still lacks the licks newer material by bands like Testament can provide as this is no The Gathering, for example. As thus it makes itself out to be more like a quality heavy metal album rather than a thrash album at times.
Thus, on the whole, Death Magnetic shows huge improvement from their last couple of efforts and most importantly displays that the spirit of metal is wanting to find itself re-injected into its core. Death Magnetic manages to be the perfect blend of abrasive songs with more infecting ballad-types into a nice blend of addictiveness and asserts itself to be the band’s best work since the classic …And Justice From All from their early stages.