Over the past several months, I have been really hard on Metallica for the actions they have taken against fans and fellow bloggers. I managed to borrow an early copy from a friend. I was also very surprised when I read the Mashable article, forwarded to me by another buddy. We’ll see exactly how Lars and company accept the new Internet and this “par of the course” jibber jabber. Instead of rushing and writing something, I really wanted to digest the new material – a lot.
After spending time with the album, I have mixed feelings about it. I read some of the early reviews suggesting that Metallica had revived the spirit of Master of Puppets. Well, yes and no. I will say this from the get go, what a difference having a real bass player has. Death Magnetic embodies some of the spirit of their old sound from the early days, but they also mixed it with some of the more recent sounds – excluding St. Anger.
Overall, the album is good, but not their best. Unless something drastic happens, the early albums will remain the best song writing from the foursome. That said, Death Magnetic does stand up on its own. The album has a heavier sound, better riffs, and much improved melodies. I have to give kudos to James Hetfield for sounding pretty awesome throughout each of the tracks – even those I don’t care much about. The songs are more cohesively constructed, rather than sounding like material thrown together after or in between therapy sessions. Overall, a more honest album. For fans that prefer the early days, Death Magnetic will be well received. However, for newer fans that prefer the albums of the 90’s, there might be some backlash towards the new material.
There are some tracks that are solid, but are not quite awesome. “Broken, Beaten and Scarred,” “The Judas Kiss” and “The Day That Never Comes” are good tracks, but not their best. Although I do think each of these tracks have great moments, those moments do not carry the song.
So here is where album went back to the old days, they brought back an instrumental track. That said, “Suicide & Redemption” just doesn’t do it for me. I have listened to the track over and over again, but the intro is too long, and the melodies aren’t developed enough. A good instrumental requires good arranging, almost orchestral in nature, for it to work. I think “Suicide & Redemption” could have used a little more work and development. It just doesn’t compare to earlier instrumentals like “Orion” or “The Call of Ktulu.”
I am also giving poor marks for creativity just for having an “Unforgiven III.” Really?? Couldn’t they come up with something different? The song for what it is, isn’t bad, and includes an intro that uses a piano (a first the band, if memory serves me correct). Although the track is nice and pretty, I could have used a little something different. Perhaps a different title?
So far my favorites include “That was Just Your Life,” “All Nightmare Long,” “The End of the Line,” and “My Apocalypse.” These tracks bring the hard and heavy – the Metallica I love. “My Apocalypse” reminds me a bit of “Damage Inc.,” perhaps why some reviews have compared the new material to Master. At the some time, “All Nightmare Long” has a really catchy riff for an intro that sucked me in, followed with some great riffs and vocal work. “The End of the Line” simply rocks. These are the tracks that I am look forward to hearing live in performance. That will be the true test of how the they are.
The Final Take
Rick Ruben managed to bring back the essence of the “preferred” Metallica. The magical question: Should you buy it? If you are an old school fan, yes. Otherwise, borrow it from a friend. Death Magentic redeems Metallica only to a point, but the band still has much to prove to its fans that remain anguished over the hypocracy of file sharing – an activity that helped them achieve their success. Only time will tell if Metallica has embraced its early roots once again. In the meantime, take Death Magnetic for what it’s worth, an attempt to bring back the heart and soul, but fell shy from producing a masterpiece.