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Death Magnetic is the ninth studio album from heavy metaltitans Metallica, who link up with producer Rick Rubin (Beastie Boys, Slayer) for the first time. Epic guitar solos from Kirk Hammett, constant speed changes and multiple riffs per song make the follow-up to 2003's St. Anger a throwback to the band's pre-1990s style. James Hetfield's vocals and the pounding rhythms of Lars Ulrich are as powerful as ever, while Bass player Rob Trujillo appears on a studio recording with the band for the first time
It begins with a heartbeat...it could very well be the heartbeat of your average Metallica fan, scared to death, not by the spooky coffin made of iron filings on the cover (see what they did there?) but by the thought that this supposed 'return to form' by the world's once-greatest thrash metal merchants will be lame. Well worry not. After the solo-free St Anger way back in 2003 this is, well, most outstanding.
Never let it be said that Metallica aren't a band of the people, just not the people who file share their back catalogue. You can imagine Death Magnetic blasting out of some tank's soundsystem in the middle east. The closest thing to a ballad is single, The Day That Never Comes, though after a few minutes it descends back into the abyss of raw power. And the only low point comes with the penultimate instrumental, Suicide And Redemption which meanders and has a 'sensitive' solo line at its core that's at odds with the brutality on offer elsewhere.
James Hetfield's lyrics now seem to have become the channel of his post-therapy angst. More cyphers than actual narratives, they come direct from the big book of heavy metal words. Take this example from The End Of The Line, "Need..more and more/Tainted misery/Bleed...battlescars/Chemical affinity/Reign...legacy/Innocence corrode/Stain...rot away/Catatonic overload/Choke...asphyxia/Snuff reality/Scorch...kill the light/Incinerate celebrity/Reaper... butchery/Karma amputee". You get the idea.
But words aren't the major force at work here. It's the irresistible maelstrom of guitars. Kirk Hammett's back to shredding triplets or chiming with Hetfield in Thin Lizzy-esque duels. Balancing vertiginous prog time shifts with chugging power chords, it's amazing how raw and hungry producer Rick Rubin (himself, a thrash connoiseur with Slayer and Wolfsbane albums under his belt) has made the band sound. His greatest contribution is in bringing out the crunch in 'new' boy. Robert Trujillo's bass. On Cyanide he's unstoppable. And, of course, leading the changes is the mighty Lars Ulrich. Possibly the single most erudite expression of metal's paradoxical mix of intelligence matched with dumb, awesome power. If there's a nagging sensation that the drums sound weird, it's because they're REAL. Say what you will about their psychodramas or political leanings, but this is a band that really can play.
Death Magnetic is the sound of a band giving both themselves and their fans exactly what they need. And nothing else matters... --Chris Jones
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Top Customer Reviews
4 stars goes to both the album itself as well as the set. While Death Magnetic pales in comparison to the first decade of their career, it's easily the best thing they've done since ill trodden attempts at blues rock and garagey nu-metal.
Production wise it's good but poor mastering means there is some distortion in unnecessary places, but this is not the band's fault and unfortunately a lot of new albums and remasters are like this. Yet it still doesn't take away the power of the riffage that is a combo of their cult and mainstream years. Hetfield may sound more like an angry teacher than a Sergeant and Lars' beats lack 80's creativity, but they do their best here. And as for Kirk - an explosion of solos is natural after being tied up for the last album. Unfortunately, despite the full band writing effort, Rob is still only a little audible, but that said I think too much bass at the forefront would have diluted the songs. Don't put him up front just because he's 'new' (at least they didn't bury him like Jason on AJFA).
The coffin box itself is white, sturdy and about arm's length in size. The CD included is the limited edition Digipak version which looks better than the Super Jewel box version, but it's only drawback is that like the St. Anger case, the cardboard is prone to easy wear and peeling on your shelf. The concentric hole through the pages also obscures the lyrics.
Then there is a 'Demo Magnetic' CD which is fairly late stage demos of all the album songs with original working titles. Many songs sound very similar to the final versions, most changes being lyrics or arrangement ideas.Read more ›
- The music: 4.5 out of 5. Wow, this album is amazing, a true return to the Metallica thrash roots that got them to where they are in the first place mixed in with their crunchier post Black album sound. Don't get me wrong; I like a lot of their post Black album work, but it was a newer and calmer chapter of the Metallica story that left the anger of youth behind for a more mature "I've bought a nice house by the beach" sort of sound. I'm not going to judge whether that's a good or bad thing as I do like both `sounds'. "Death Magnet" sounds like a decent combination of both. I really really like it.
- The audio quality: 1.5 out of 5. Well done to the decision makers in doing their best to making a carefully crafted £3000 music system sound like a £50 Argos midi hifi system from the 90s when playing this CD. I don't know who made the actual mixing and mastering decisions here so I won't point fingers, but you've taken something awesome and taken a dump all over it. If you were given a beautiful Aston Martin DB9, I assume you'd repaint it florescent pink, hacksaw the wheel arches off so you can stick oversized gold rims on it and a huge spoiler on the back with flame graphics stuck on. Shame on you, buck up your ideas or leave the music industry now. We, the people, DO NOT WANT YOU AROUND.
There's 0.5 out of five over the lowest possible Amazon score for this as it could have been slightly worse, you could add a screaming baby track on repeat all the way through, but you didn't. A macho heavy metal high five for not doing that.
If you bring out a well crafted remix in the future this will be one of my all time favourite Metallica albums. Well done Metallica for creating this music, shame on you secret audio destroyers for screwing that music up so badly somewhere between your mixing desk and my speakers.
(Edited to correct a couple of spelling errors)
The problems of St Anger have been erased; the lyrics are far less self loathing and repetitive, the arrangements are more varied and technical, the drums sound like drums, the bass is once again the holding player in midfield and the solos are back in style. This album showcases Hammett's most emotive & powerful lead work in over a decade! And there is also the small matter of some of the band's best riffs since 1986!
Hetfield is more 'in control' than on the 2003 misfire, and the production while not in the Black album sphere, is clear and powerful. Personally I would prefer a slightly fuller snare & less clicky bass drum but the guitars and bass are really strong. Had my doubts over Trujillo - not as a player, but more if he was suitable, but I have to say I'm really impressed.
There is much for all here; from the symphonic orchestration on Unforgiven 3 (STUNNING lead break) to the all out Thrash Metal of My Apocalypse and the epic The Day That Never Comes (similiar to One but better. Really!).
That Was Just Your Life is a corker of an opener and is reminiscent of the St Anger days but with better quality.
Instrumental track Suicide & Redemption has a real groove with some seriously crunchy riffs, and tasty leads. Not as good as Orion or the S&M version of Call Of Ktulu but more engaging than the plodding To Live Is To Die from 1988's AJFA.
What strikes me here is how clear the influences shine through; the rhythm of Zeppelin, the riffs of Sabbath, the swagger of Motorhead. Even the odd hint of Maiden & Priest.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The product arrived on time. Good price for new, what more can you ask?
Really happy with it
I have to give this 5 stars because in the context of modern day metal albums that are being released, this is top notch, heavy, full of riffs, solos, melodic in places. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Nglaws
st anger showed signs of what was to come. and this don't disappoint... if you was a bit gutted at the radio rock of the black album and the others up until st anger... buy this.. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Mrbungle