By Justin Stockton
After Metallica released the extremely controversial “St. Anger”, they definitely divided fans I think more than ever. The album still sold well, very well and earned a Grammy as well. However, after all the pompous rock star news and everything with Napster and all that, fans were very unsure if Metallica would ever return to the roots and the concepts that made them as big as they are. After a long five year wait and inclusion of bassist Robert Trujillo, Metallica released “Death Magnetic” on September 12th, 2008. Would this album mark another weird era for the band or was a it a true return to form?
1.That was Just Your Life-Opening with some very gloomy clean guitars and honestly the opening reminds me very much “...And Justice For All”. The main meat of the song in that main riff and the almost punk like chorus are really catchy and show Metallica really returning to their thrash roots but with more of a modern sense to it. The production is quite crisp as well and honestly this opening song is I think how, when everyone heard it, including myself, Metallica should sound in the 21st century. What a great opener and a real return to form.
2.The End Of The Line- The riffs in this song I always thought were some of the most memorable on the album and the groove was always pretty solid as well. There are more thrashy elements here as well, with James singing better than he had I feel on the past few albums with more of a gruff sound to his voice than the hard rock vibe I got from at least their nineties material. The quieter parts that bring the song back through to the chorus as well are very well done and flow very organically. A catchy and very heavy number.
3.Broken, Beat and Scarred- This song has a pretty good mid tempo groove to it through mainly the verse and some of the progressive feeling elements from “...And Justice” as well with a very heavy and again catchy chorus as well. I like the faster tempo points of the song as well it fits together well. This is easily one of the most memorable songs off the album.
4.The Day That Never Comes- Ahh, a return to the epic ballad-like song akin to tracks like “Fade To Black: and “Welcome Home Sanitarium” but completely original and different sounding than those songs. It definitely is it's own thing and has a very serious tone to it. This was the first song I heard of the album eight years ago and it still floors me like it did then. It has good emotion, build up and a nice heavy pay off with a very solid jam between Kirk and James at the end. Definitely my favorite song off the album still.
5.All Nightmare Long- This album is straight up thrash metal. Or at least how Metallica does thrash metal and James still proves to be one of the most solid down picking guitar players out there. The main riff is really frantic and I always dug it even if it is albeit a bit simple. The chorus is basically hooks aplenty and I always find myself singing to it as well. Definitely quite possibly the fastest song on the album and boasts one of my favorite solos Kirk played since his solo in “Blackened”.
6.Cyanide- I remember hearing this song on the radio constantly when the album first hit and I always liked some of the rhythm parts but overall the song just never really struck a big chord with me. I always just felt like it never fit as much as the last few songs and the bridge to the chorus always just felt so out of place. I tend to usually skip this one unless I haven't heard it in awhile just to see if I could grow more on it but unfortunately that hasn't happened to me and it has become one of the more stale tracks to me.
7.The Unforgiven III- I have always loved the opening to this song and is up there with the Unforgiven II with having some very well done arrangements. I always found the verses very catchy as well with almost sing along riffs to go along with it. Definitely another highlight on the album.
8.The Judas Kiss- Another one of my favorites on the album with a lot of good riffs akin to again “...And Justice For All” within it's core DNA and this track also sports one of the best Choruses Metallica have ever written since the early days, it is just golden. The solo is pretty damn infectious as well and I think Kirks soloing on the album really peaks with this track.
9.Suicide And Redemption-A full on instrumental and with some cool bass riffing in the beginning but the main riff always just sounded a bit boring to me. I don't know why but the mid-tempo feeling of it doesn't give the same kind of epic feeling like “Orion” did. It is an okay instrumental but sounds more like a jam to me.
10.My Apocalypse- Closing with a straight up thrash tune. I always really liked how the band performed this song with such a frantic nature. The lyrics have always been really damn catchy as well with a heavy almost jam like chorus as well. What a way to close the album with the band firing on all cylinders.
Overall, I give Death Magnetic a 7.5 out of 10. I don't agree that the album is as good as their first four albums. However, I do agree that every song on here passes the last four in terms of how the songs are crafted, the musicianship that went into it and the charisma between the whole band. If Metallica were a band that broke up after “...And Justice and For All” and came back twenty years later to make this album, it would be a great return for them and I still feel that is how many view this album, as if the nineties and early two thousands didn't happen. Death Magnetic marked a good return to form for Metallica and I feel reestablished a lot of their fanbase. Metallica would embark on yet another extremely massive and quite possibly their biggest tour ever. This marked the bands true comeback with the inclusion of the historic Big 4 shows throughout 2010 and '11. However, Metallica still had one very interesting and again very polarizing trick up their sleeve. Finally, before we unveil the full rundown of Metallica's upcoming, highly anticipated album “Hardwired...To Self Destruct” we are going to dive right into their collaboration with Lou Reed entitled “LuLu”.
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