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Metallica - "Beyond Magnetic" (CD/EP)

Metallica - "Beyond Magnetic" CD/EP cover image

"Beyond Magnetic" track listing:

1. Hate Train
2. Just A Bullet Away
3. Hell And Back
4. Rebel Of Babylon

Reviewed by on February 18, 2012

"Like 'Death Magnetic,' the album they were originally written for, the four tracks on Metallica's 'Beyond Magnetic' are a more-than-pleasant reminder that the biggest band in metal is still capable of the thrash fury of its early years."

Like "Death Magnetic," the album they were originally written for, the four tracks on Metallica's "Beyond Magnetic" are a more-than-pleasant reminder that the biggest band in metal is still capable of the thrash fury of its early years. At least two of the tracks ("Hate Train" and "Rebel Of Babylon") are at least the equal of anything on the album they were culled from, and the sound quality of these supposedly "rough" mixes feels a little more natural as well.

After the solo-free experience that was "St. Anger," guitarist Kirk Hammett cut loose quite splendidly on "Death Magnetic," and that naturally carries over here, with "Hate Train" especially featuring some inspired lead guitar work, along with a Motorhead-style speedy rhythm line from James Hetfield.

The eight-minute "Rebel Of Babylon" features a variety of styles, ranging from the opening with its clean electric guitar tones, to blitzkrieg thrash that slows to Sabbath speeds in the chorus. It's also the best showing for Hetfield's vocals on the disc.

"Hell And Back" is a decent mid-tempo rocker that wouldn't feel too out of place amid the better tracks on "Load" and "ReLoad." "Just A Bullet Away," on the other hand, flirts a little too much with "St. Anger" territory both in terms of its self-loathing subject matter, and in feeling pretty severely under produced (thank goodness for the lack of "pinging" drums from Lars Ulrich, though). Granted, there's a decent solo, but the song feels a little incoherent when it slows down in the middle.

Yes, the mixes on these songs are a bit rough (a nasty bit of feedback on "Just A Bullet Away" doesn't feel like it was intentionally put there), but not so much as to detract overly much from the experience. It does sometimes seem that Hetfield's vocals are mixed a shade too high, making them feel a little too separate from the rest of the band.

Still — and especially after the disaster that was "Lulu" (reviewed here) — it's nice to be reminded that Metallica hasn't forgotten how to create the music that earned them their early accolades. Yes, "Beyond Magnetic" is merely a trip into the vaults to bide fans' time until the next full-length album, but it's an enjoyable trip, nonetheless.

Highs: "Hate Train" and "Rebel Of Babylon"

Lows: "Just A Bullet Away"

Bottom line: If you liked the band's return to form on "Death Magnetic," you'll enjoy these tracks from those sessions.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)