Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Back to basics: Metallica- Death Magnetic review

Like most folks who give And Justice for All or even the Black album a spin every now and then, I’ve spent the past six years trying to forget the abysmal St. Anger released by Metallica in 2002.

The album was almost bad enough to warrant adopting a puppy, naming it Metallica, and then abandoning it somewhere in the middle of the desert with no hope of rescue.

So, yeah, I kind of hated St. Anger…A lot.

That being said, I was nearly unwilling to give Metallica even a passing glance once Death Magnetic, the first proper album since St. Anger, was announced.

Perhaps goaded by early reviews, perhaps wanting to believe Metallica could be good again, I eventually caved and plopped down my ten bucks to pick up their latest effort.

I’m glad I did.

I like to envision everyone in Metallica arguing through a band meeting, at which point one of the guys stands up, throws a chair across the room and says, “For the life of me, I can’t understand why I even started playing music in the first place…Can you guys?” Everyone gives this a little thought, realization dawns brightly on each of their faces and a collective “Ooooh yeeeah,” fills the room. Thus, Death Magnetic is born.

Put simply, Death Magnetic is a great addition to the Metallica library and one of the better old school rock albums I’ve heard in a while.

Reminiscent of the good old days with enough new stuff thrown in to keep it from sounding like that was what the band was desperately going for, Metallica has once again made a believer out of me.

The sound is strong and often moving--even if the production is a bit uneven--and the subject matter is dark, desperate, personal and ultimately uplifting. On offer are ten massive tracks exceeding the five minute mark and even a ten minute instrumental break come track nine. The hooks are memorable and will have you singing out loud, the solos are blistering and-- damnitall--it’s just a nice breath of fresh air after more than 15 years of WTF out of the group.

Don’t go in expecting the raw, overly heavy sound of Kill Em All or the brain numbing madness of St. Anger. Metallica is at neither their best nor their worst here, but the quality is high enough to be well worth your attention.

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