Metallica: James Hetfield (vocals, guitar); Kirk Hammett (guitar); Robert Trujillo (bass guitar); Lars Ulrich (drums). The world at large got a fly-on-the-wall view of the creation of Metallica's 2003 album, ST. ANGER, via the documentary SOME KIND OF … see full wiki
Cons: Turn down Lars! No real standouts other than the instrumental piece.
The Bottom Line: It was a little disappointing but still a good album. I have enjoyed it. Just don't expect the earth to shake with it.
Is it really good or just better than the last outing? Well, one thing is for sure, it has already been played much more than the thankfully almost forgotten St. Anger. But how does it stand on its own merit? That is the question about Death Magnetic that you will have to answer yourself.
By no means is this a bad album. It even has some very terrific moments. But taken on a whole, it seems to still lack the satisfying touch that earlier works had. Even with some of their best guitar work in ages, it is not enough to pull this above the ranks of just a very good piece of metal music.
Maybe I was expecting too much. After the wait and anticipation it was more of an, "is this all we get" type thing. Sure there is some scorchers on here. The opening number "That Was Just Your Life" and the following song "The End Of The Line" are both fine examples of what made this band climb to the top of the metal mountain. They will both make you remember how good the band use to be. Back from the dead also, is the guitar solo. Hammett does some very fine work that makes for some real headbanging but it is like seeing an old friend after so many years and realizing that nothing has changed. The music could be interchanged with so many other songs that they have put out.
Most of the album continues along this same path. There is many tunes that are worthy additions to the Metallica catalogue but not much that really stands out as something classic or even at the top of the Metallica heap. With a couple of exceptions. The first being a reason to buy this disc alone. It is the nearly ten minute long instrumental piece "Suicide & Redemption". This is as cool as the band has ever sounded. It also will remind you just how good that Kirk Hammett can be when given the chance. Not only does this piece take you from the heavy end of the scales to the melodic band that emerged in their later work, it demonstrates the maturity that has finally surfaced from a band that needed to grow up an album or two ago.
The other stand out is the first single off the album, "The Day That Never Comes". This is very reminiscent of the glory days of the Reload era, where metal meets melodic in a blend that is very much Metallica. It is easy to see why this was the first offering for radio consumption as it is the freshest sounding song on here, but still will appeal to the long time fans of the band.
The rest of the album delivers a combination of speed metal and thrash that we have come to expect from any good release of Metallica with "Cyanide"being the best of the rest so to speak. On this one even Lars Ulrich gets out of the "I could be replaced with a drum machine" mode. You will find that there seems to be a sameness to a lot of the album. The songs are all very good, but they tend to be interchangeable with no real standouts other than what I have already mentioned.
One of the main things that struck me on this album is a problem that this band has had to deal with from the beginning. Lars. For some reason, maybe he just threw another hissy fit, his drums are way to loud in the mix. At times he even overwhelms the guitars that should be the focus of the song. It's not like he is doing some Mike Portnoy work back there anyway.
All in all though, it is still a very good album. One that you won't use to keep the table level like St. Anger. It brings the old Metallica back but still has enough to call it a step forward. The band is back on track...almost. If they keep on this way and someone can keep a sock in Lars' mouth, all will be well in Metallicaland. At least they will are within reach of the top once again.
Track listing for Death Magnetic:
1. That Was Just Your Life 2. The End Of The Line 3. Broken, 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
The song "Unforgiven III" also should be noted as the band uses a very beautiful piano and strings intro that makes me wonder just what they could do along the road that they started down here. This is a good companion to the other two in the series and again shows that the band has grown up. It is one of the better tunes on here and helps to balance the scales in their favor on this album.
You will not go wrong with this disc as long as you don't expect too much. This is a good release from a great band. Nothing more or nothing less.