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Metallica - "Death Magnetic" (CD)

Metallica - "Death Magnetic" CD cover image

"Death Magnetic" track listing:

1. That Was Just Your Life
2. The End Of The Line
3. Broke, Beat & Scarred
4. The Day That Never Comes
5. All Nightmare Long
6. Cyanide
7. The Unforgiven III
8. The Judas Kiss
9. Suicide & redemption
10. My Apocalypse

Reviewed by on January 22, 2009

"'Death Magnetic' is the answer to the question 'Why are Metallica considered part of the founding fathers of heavy metal?'"

The first thing listeners will notice when they pop in “Death Magnetic” is how loud it is. It’s obvious that every amp in the studio was cranked past ten, which is usually a good thing in metal, but in the case of “Death Magnetic,” results in some unfortunate distortion of the guitars. Sound quality aside, “Death Magnetic” is the album Metallica fans wished for after “And Justice For All.”

Carpal-tunnel inducing guitar solos are found in “The Day That Never Comes,” “The Judas Kiss,” and the nearly ten-minute long instrumental track “Suicide & Redemption.” “Suicide & Redemption” begins with a sleaze metal opening with snatches of funk that build up slowly to an incredible thrashing guitar solo. The solo is so awesome that it deflects from the lack of vocals, and nearly makes up for the excessive length of the track.

Lead singer James Hetfield’s famous thrash vocals return on “My Apocalypse” and “The Judas Kiss,” though a few songs like “The Day That Never Comes” are surprisingly mellow. “Broken, Beat & Scarred” also boasts lighter vocals, more in line with today’s hard rock music. The lighter vocals work for Hetfield, though the repetitive instrumental riff in “Broken, Beat & Scarred” that lasts virtually the entire first minute of the song does not.

A few tracks come off as enigmas, such as “Cyanide,” with its angry lyrics but more melodic vocals. “The Unforgiven III,” perhaps the most unique piece on the album, opens with a classical piano and even a trumpet added to the mix, but this segues into interludes of violent guitar riffs that prevent the track from becoming too dramatic.

Metallica’s metal roots shine through on “The End of the Line” and “My Apocalypse,” a track very reminiscent of the band’s Grammy nominated “And Justice For All.”

The one blight on “Death Magnetic,” which comes as no great surprise, is Lars Ulrich’s drumming. His timing gets so bad in “That Was Just Your Life” that some listeners may wonder if Ulrich was playing a different song from the rest of the band. Despite many missed opportunities for Ulrich to show his stuff, there is a nice drum solo in “All Nightmare Long,” though Ulrich’s moment of fame is short-lived.

“Death Magnetic” is a solid album that helps redeem Metallica after less than stellar response to “St. Anger.” It is in part a return to their classic metal and thrash roots, but with some melodic variety thrown in. It is the answer to the question “Why are Metallica considered part of the founding fathers of heavy metal?”

Highs: Mind shattering thrash guitar solos in “The Day That Never Comes” and “The Judas Kiss,” and masterful classical elements in “The Unforgiven III.”

Lows: Over-amped guitars and most of Ulrich’s drumming.

Bottom line: A really good choice for metal fans and those who may have given up on Metallica after “St. Anger.”

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

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)