Ahh Metallica, the longest-running trainwreck of a metal band ever. We loved them in the 80's, hated them in the 90's, and they've been trying and mostly failing to win us back in the 2000's. All this turmoil was caused by one guy whose Canadian citizenship should be revoked: Bob Rock. Bob knows the fuck outta pop and buttrock, but he doesn't know shit about metal. Anyway, he's gone now and this review is about Metallica's new album, Death Magnetic.
First of all, how does one define the classic Metallica sound ? Fast, tight one-note staccatos, with a few slow, heavy jams at the end of the bar, then back to the shred... Kirk Hammett's ridiculously fast harmonic solos... tirelessly pounding kick/snare marathons... and some douchebag shouting about being angry or something. That's Metallica! At least that's how they were before the Black Album, the first taste of Bob Rock's atrocities upon the band.
Death Magnetic is in many ways a return to that good old thrash. You could play it for anyone, even if they're not a big fan, and they will instinctively recognize it as Metallica. They might say "was that on Master?", and you won't be insulted by their error, you'll simply respond "naw, this is the new album", and they will utter "Holy shit!". It sounds more like "Kill 'Em All", at least to me, and it sure beats anything else they've made in the last 18 years.
The mix is quite a bit cleaner than St. Anger, which sounded like it was done in a basement on a goddamned cassette recorder. Don't get me wrong, the mix is still absolute shit, and they apparently don't know how to make proper use of a compressor, but at least you can hear all the members on this one. It does lend it a bit of old-school charm, but this is one album they might consider remastering in 10-15 years for the re-release, as it takes away from the strength of the riffs and drumming.
I can't really think of any standouts, the album holds together pretty well, and while none of the songs are particularly remarkable, they are all rather satisfying and consistent. Ok, except for one: "The Unforgiven III". What the fuck ? If I wanted to hear some Evanescence, I'd play some Evanescence. I swear, if Hetfield makes a fourth one of these, I'm going to fly down to California and take a shit in his mailbox.
What are you waiting for ?
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