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Review

Metallica attempts to compensate for previous album

September 18, 2008

Almost half a decade after a disastrous release in Metallica’s eighth studio album, “St. Anger,” the Los Angeles thrashers are back with their ninth album, an attempt to regain those fans who failed to remain faithful listeners after what many though was a huge disappointment. The new album is entitled “Death Magnetic.”

James Hetfield (Lead Vocalist/Rhythm Guitar), on the title of this album, stated, “Death Magnetic,” at least the title, to me started out as kind of a tribute to people that have fallen in our business, like Layne Staley and a lot of the people that have died, basically rock and roll martyrs of sorts. And then it kind of grew from there, thinking about death, some people are drawn towards it, and just like a magnet, and other people are afraid of it and push away.

Interestingly enough, this is the first Metallica album in which each member of the band contributed to each song on the album. The band began writing the album in 2004, shortly after the release of “St. Anger.” Hetfield revealed to the music world that the band had actually written approximately 18 songs which were unreleased, but he did comment that they would most likely be reworked in the future. Prior to completing the record, many critics felt that without a complete band, they could not achieve their previous stardom. In a documentary, current and ex-members of the band stated that “St. Anger” will long be remembered for it’s empty-headed aggression and undoing everything Metallica had come to be during their nearly 25 year career.

After regrouping and snatching up former Suicidal Tendencies and Ozzy Osbourne bass player, Robert Trujillo, the band went into a hiatus to begin working on an album more similar to their older works.

I consider myself to be a well-rounded listener when it comes to music. Concerning Metallica, I’ve listened to it all multiple times. This summer, I had time to become re-affiliated with what I loved so much about this band in the first place. I was fortunate enough to come across their live album, “S&M,” which was recorded with the San Francisco Symphony in 1999. This live compilation captured the high points of the band’s twenty-five year career and then some.

With a summer long refresher course behind me, the countdown began to Sept. 10, 2008. That day has come and gone. Since that point, I have become intrigued and fascinated with the progression and positive regression of “Death Magnetic’s” style. The album caught me off guard, as it wasn’t straight up thrash and burn, but more of an equilibrium between aggression and pure musical brilliance. The first track on the album, “That Was Just Your Life,” sent a shivering reminder up my spine – the first couple cords were nearly identical to that of “One.” It slowly progresses into the familiarity of typicality that we know as old school Metallica. To be honest, throughout the first two tracks it seemed as if the percussion was a bit off, but maybe that can be attributed to production problems.

From then on, the album slides into a slew of rip-roaring chords and melodies with a plethora of double bass kicks pounding your cochlea. The song “All Nightmare Long” is my personal favorite thus far. It reminds me of a jumble of old and new. The track starts slow, but with much anticipation it rips off into almost a rocker’s dream anthem. The album doesn’t really have a weak point, although the song “The Unforgiven III” is a bit lengthy. It is more of a melodic power ballad and doesn’t really fit with the fast paced insanity in the rest of the record. Listen after listen, I consider myself convinced Metallica have put themselves back on the map after the disaster known as “St. Anger.” I thought that album buried these rock juggernauts. I wouldn’t say “Death Magnetic” is absolutely perfect, but I do believe it was good enough to pull these guys out of their sad sap of a mid rockers crisis! They have definitely redefined modern day metal.