Friday, December 19, 2008

Metallica - Death Magnetic

(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.


JimLotFP said...

hehe, this is perhaps the last album I expected to see reviewed. :D

I haven't even heard a full Metallica album since the 1991 s/t so I can't argue much about modern Metallica, but I have heard a little bit from each album since then, and my recent roommates love Metallica and played this constantly.

Cursory listening gives me the impression that this is probably the best album they've done since 1991, not that that's saying much at all, and they totally screwed up that Iron Maiden cover they did... but that's not on the album, is it? Was that just for Metal Hammer?

It is completely unforgivable that a band with Metallica's resources has produced a sonically flawed album though (compositional issues aside)... AGAIN.

Matt said...

How can a review of this album, especially at this late date, fail to mention its well-reported sonic issues? And how can one discuss Death Magnetic without raising the issue of James's spent voice? That this is their most "thrash" album since ...And Justice for All is known to everyone, but does that fact by itself somehow justify this album's existence? Is there a SINGLE song on this album that you would rank as better than ANY song on AJfA, or any previous Metallica album? Can you imagine yourself, facing the Metallica block of your CD collection and grabbing this and not one of their classic albums? I don't quite understand people's burning need for Metallica to be back, so I can't fathom the mental gymnastics required to polish this turd or to forgive the obvious swindle that it represents. Who could possibly see this album as an earnest effort at making art and not money, and what critic, in good conscience, could fail to address this question in appraising Death Magnetic? I expect more from a LotFP review, and I say that before even considering the vast stylistic and even grammatical shortcomings in this piece.

Chgowiz said...

I gave a listen to this album and about halfway through, it dawned on me what bugged me about this album. This is a band wanting to sound like Metallica. They try to shove in all the cliched Metallica "trademarks". Listen to Ride or Masters - those songs "flowed" - here, it's a bunch of covered riffs and sounds and Metallica-isms shoved together as if to say "See! We're still Metallica! Weee!"

Nope. Sorry. It may make me feel nostalgic, but it's not the Metallica that really knew how to thrash and rock.

Victim of Deception said...

Thanks for the criticisms and comments.

Kindjal said...

I looked up the LotFP review after I saw BW&BK made this album their "Brave" pick of 2008. I was shocked at that (maybe I shouldn't have been), and I was disappointed in this review. I second Matt's comments. "Better than Loads and St. Anger" does not mean "Good". In this case, this is a slightly less shitty Metallica album, and just continues to show how this legendary band has fallen 20 years behind their peers.

To be sure, James still has some riffery left in him. But Bob Rock polluted him with the false notion that being a bad singer is better than being a great growler. The lyrics are sophomoric at best. I think Lars is terrifically overrated, and the dry drum recording leaves him nothing to hide behind. He sounds like a very average metal drummer. Probably below average. Kirk's solos are almost entirely shit, and that fucking wah pedal poisoned him. Oh yeah, they have a bass player. Again you'd never know it by this album.

This album has 10 minutes of decent material buried under 72 minutes of shit, and poorly produced to boot. And the 10 minutes of "decent" is still decades behind their contemporaries.

I don't think the band members are making a "money grab". I mean, it's not like they have other skills. This is what they do, they're in a band. In my opinion, they're writing what they feel, writing honest material. It's just that it happens to be honestly bad.

I don't know why I felt compelled to write these comments. I love LotFP. I hate Metallica apologists.