Just Bought: Death Magnetic

Metallica always seems to be the band to do things to spite people and critics. Even when they started. In spite of the growing trend of hair-metal bands, Metallica chose to add punk (70’s punk, not 2000’s punk) influences and play their style of metal. Then in spite of all metal bands having the long hair look, they chopped all theirs off. In spite of fans wanting “80’s sounding” Metallica, they went on to release the Black, Load, and Reload albums. In spite of being told how difficult working with a symphony would be, they released their own “greatest hits” as S&M. Music downloading was becoming increasingly popular, and Metallica sued the company that was at the forefront. Their bassist quit the band, James quit drinking, Kirk quit soloing, Lars quit keeping his mouth shut, and they released an album that went against all the sleek songwriting and production values that were in their other albums (besides ‘Justice).

Well they’ve done it again. Death Magnetic. Without Jason. Without Bob Rock. Without engineering apparently. It’s like this album is making a statement about the state of today’s recording and engineering process. If you’re not keen on the production world, its something recording engineers are calling the Loudness Wars. Each track gets heavily compressed, then the master gets heavily compressed, and then it gets compressed some more. This album is like to spite this. They pushed the compression too far. There’s clipping, distortion, and it’s loud, without much (audio) breathing room. I love most anything that Rick Rubin touches, the result is technically what he (probably) wanted, but still seems like more effort should have been put in. But, everyone has been talking/complaining about the production, lets move onto the songs…








1. That was Just Your Life – first track, starts off the CD pretty well. It’s got a nice buildup into some thrashing riffs. It’s also the track I’d say most closely resembles anything off St. Anger. There’s some similar guitar tones, and it has the same frantic feeling of St. Anger. It does have a guitar solo though (like all the tracks this time).

2. The End of the Line – reminds me of stuff off Reload. Again, in the guitar tone. It’s like Fuel, only less radio friendly, but cooler.

3. Broken, Beat & Scarred – So far, I think this is my least favorite track. But maybe it will grow on me, I’ve had only like 4 hours of exposure to this album. Not like I’m trying to make this seem like a pattern, but this one really feels like it would have fit on Load. He sings similar to Bleeding Me.

4. The Day That Never Comes – This is the song that was most everyone’s first taste to this album. I think it’s pretty damn good. It’s got a Blackened or One feel to it. And it’s definitly got a melody that sticks in my head. It ends with 3+ min guitar soloing.

5. All Nightmare Long – The song title itself throws it in a category with Enter Sandman. And yeah, it would be a good comparison musically too. Although sounding more like Of Wolf and Man. So in that league, its a good haunting track.

6. Cyanide – Probably the most unlike-other-Metallica song. It sounds like the Black album, but it trashes harder. Pretty solid drumming here from Lars. It’s a very angry sounding song too.

7. Unforgiven III – Is that piano on a Metallica track? This song definitely suffers from the production values. It needs to be softer at times, but the compression won’t let it. I wish they wouldn’t have named it so, but I can see that it sort of follows the theme from the other 2. But I think it gives itself criticism by association.

8. the Judas Kiss – So this song doesn’t fit on any particular past CD…but I did find something to compare it to – I Disappear. The intro and tone is very similar. Wins the award for angriest song on the CD. Despite being so forceful, the song is very aural too. With areas letting up, then diving back in with heavy riffs or speedy solos. “Judas lives, recite this vow, I’ve become your new God now!” – cool lyric in between solos.

9. Suicide & Redemption – The only track you’ll clearly be able to hear Robert on. Starts with a “call-answer” riff style between the bass and guitars. This is the instrumental track that has been missing from Metallica CD’s since To Live is To Die. This is classic Metallica sounding. It’s got the structure to fit in with Puppets, Lighting, or Justice, but some of the guitar riff’s have a newer distortion tone that I haven’t heard in Metallica before.

10. My Apocalypse – The last track. This track does exactly what it’s supposed to…sound like ’83-’89 years. Well, except of course that James can’t get his voice where it was when he was 20. This song speeds, thrashes and destroys on its path. 40-year-olds write this kind of music?

Overall – it hasn’t taken me long to get over the production. It’s annoying, but not the worst I’ve heard. It doesn’t exceed my expectations by any means, but it does match the hype and what I think a new Metallica CD should sound like. I think Cliff would approve. It’s loud (almost too loud, just play a different Metallica track right after to notice the difference). It’s angry (without being depressing like Load/Reload). It’s got a “garage band” sound (without being St. Anger like). And, it’s melodic (while still paying tribute to classic Metallica). The best thing about it, it contains those important guitar solos that Kirk refused to do the last time. I look forward to trying to keep up with these on Guitar Hero/Rock Band. Recommended for anyone that has liked any Metallica song at some point in time.


One Response to “Just Bought: Death Magnetic”

  1. rayninblood Says:

    I’m a huge Metallica fan, as well as 49ers fan. I listen to our local radio station and I hear people bitch about how things were with the 49ers; get out of the past. Just like the 49ers, get over what once was and look at the music for what is today. I criticize you for comparing it to past albums. Why do people do that? Get over the past dude! It’s a great album.


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