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DEATH MAGNETIC

Metallica

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Metallica Death Magnetic album cover
3.38 | 288 ratings | 29 reviews | 10% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 2008

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. That Was Just Your Life (7:08)
2. The End Of The Line (7:52)
3. Broken, Beat & Scarred (6:25)
4. The Day That Never Comes (7:56)
5. All Nightmare Long (7:57)
6. Cyanide (6:39)
7. The Unforgiven III (7:46)
8. The Judas Kiss (8:00)
9. Suicide & Redemption (9:57)
10. My Apocalypse (5:02)

Total Time 74:42

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- James Hetfield / vocals, guitar
- Lars Ulrich / drums
- Kirk Hammett / lead guitars
- Robert Trujillo / bass

Releases information

CD Elektra Records (2008)

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METALLICA Death Magnetic ratings distribution


3.38
(288 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(10%)
10%
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(35%)
35%
Good, but non-essential (27%)
27%
Collectors/fans only (17%)
17%
Poor. Only for completionists (11%)
11%

METALLICA Death Magnetic reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Welcome Home

To me, Death Magnetic is, silly title apart, what Metallica should have released in the early 1990s - this is the album that is in every way the rightful successor to the incredible ...And Justice For All.

This is an album that is more progressive in a real sense, and in the traditional sense of what Prog Rock is than almost any Progressive Metal album I've reviewed, particularly the tracks All Nightmare Long and The Judas Kiss, which I recommend to all Proggers.

I see there are a couple of spiteful Poor ratings already - don't be put off by those, there are sub-standard moments on this album for sure, but there's bona fide real Prog and a couple of great moments too. Even if you didn't like this album, you would have to grudginly admit that it's not poor, in any sense of the word - unless you blanket hate heavy metal as an entity or Metallica as a band.

This is none of your I've got a Mellotron so I sound a bit Like Pink Floyd, none of your quiet/loud = Prog nonsense, and none of your crowbar in the silly time signatures, use a mode no-one except a rabid musicologist can detect, then play a simple song and call it Prog - this is genre-defining progressive metal music.

For Metallica and their fans, who probably don't care if it's progressive or not, this album is a very welcome return to form, but a bit late, as sadly, the music overall sounds dated, and, while there is Progressive writing a-plenty in these grooves, most of the writing is in the same progressive style that Metallica themselves pioneered in the late 1980s rather than Progressive per se as it was back then. It's a historical thing.

There are also the ballads to consider - although your average Barclay James Harvest album tends to be stuffed with ballads, so I suppose I really shouldn't hold that against the fearsome foursome. The Unforgiven III is actually *gulp* very good indeed.

On to the music;

The Prog connection is made immediately, in That Was Just Your Life, with the heartbeat recalling Dark Side of the Moon. The sinister guitar picking lets you know what's coming - any moment, you expect the slam... but when it comes, it's still unexpected, and throws you back in your seat in terror. Metallica tease with heavy riff portions, then career off into two more riffs that twist, turn, grow out of and feed off each other like untamed monsters in true ...Justice style.

There's little predictablilty here - the riffs change tempo and root, giving a satisfactory feeling of harmonic progression in places, while using the anchored technique to sustain dramatic tension between sections - e.g. just before the guitar solo. The solo itself isn't particularly remarkable, but a simple token because this is where a solo belongs.

Like Justice, however, it does feel over-long in places, as the riffs occasionally seem over-settled in. But the final instrumental section is a triumph of pulse-racing timing and changes with satisfying pathos.

The riffs and tempo changes are unrelenting in The End of The Line, growing ever more spiky and angular, and the song carries reminders of Metallica's earlier material, such as Creeping Death and even more Sad But True - but here Metallica experiment a little with harmonies, introducing some very creepy notes into the chords to create edgy clashes. Underneath, the riffs continue their twisting and turning, borrowing snippets from each other, building layers, creating an overall texture that only gives up its little secrets over time - repeated listening is ESSENTIAL to get the most out of material this dense in creativity.

Kirk really turns up the Nigel Tufnel for the guitar solo - I suspect it's completely deliberate, as I get a feeling of someone laughing in an extremely disturbing way - and the opening notes are quite shocking at full volume. This is a solo of malicious intent, not the throwaway Wah-Wah over-indulgence it first appears to be.

The song drops very unexpectedly into a more mellow section that sounds almost unlike anything Metallica have ever done before, and Hetfield uses the phrase The slave becomes the master as a carry-over into the next section, which seems entirely built to convey the lyrics rather than hey, I've got a riff - can you fit some words to it?. This is masterful and Progressive writing fully worthy of the Prog Metal moniker.

While the songs themselves have pathos, the same can't be said for the album as a whole. Broken Beat and Scarred seems like more of the same, as it's in a similar tempo frame and key - even the riffs are similar in style, to begin with. I found it useful to take a break before listening to this track for the first few times.

The chorus is superb, the changes well-crafted, but over-repetition still manages to creep its way in - while Metallica are using the same riff-writing principles that drove the amazing trio of albums that set them on the way to world domination, the buzz is missing, which was the biggest problem with ...Justice.

Then we have the first of the ballads.

Now, I'm not against ballads per se - I adore Barclay James Harvest's epic and symphonic-sounding constructions - but I have almost without exception despised every ballad that Metallica have ever written, and The Day That Never Comes is no exception.

I can't help hearing Echo Beach (Martha and the Muffins) in the opening bars, and the overall stiltedness off the riffs and misplaced angles jar horribly against my musical sensibilities. This simply means another trip to the bar the next time I see them in concert.

I quite like the middle section, though, based around the phrase Love is a 4-letter word - all of a sudden we're no longer in horrible ballad territory, but creative and unpredictable musical territory, with some machine gun riffs and Maiden style twin lead lines making it all very interesting. Pity the bass simply follows the guitars the whole time - if it hadn't, then I'd have to say that this is the full-blown prog metal thing, right here. It's not - but it's very, very close.

A Diamond Head inspired solo, reminiscent of that in Am I Evil, and peppered with Tufnelisms makes this section longer than it really needs to be, but Metallica sound like they're having fun, and this comes across.

All Nightmare Long follows, and what an intro - Halloween, here we come! Perfect punctuation leads to rapid-fire riffs and splendid boom-tish thrash drumming guaranteed to put a grin on your face. Again, the riff ideas split into a cosmos of fragments around your head until it becomes very difficult to focus on a single idea - this is excatly what I was hoping for from Metallica... back in 1991 - but nevertheless makes a nice change - a piece of metal music that's unpredictable and inventive for the sake of expressing the nightmare inherent in the musical logic and lyrics, rather than complexity for its own sake.

For this is an almost hideously complex piece - and I'm loving every second of it. On an album absolutely stuffed with 7- minute plus tracks, this one feels too short, clocking in at a mere 7:58.

My favourite song is, sadly, the least progressive (but it still contains very progressive writing): Cyanide opens with a riff so infectious it should be illegal, and pans out to changes so satisfyingly headbangable and scream alongable that it's an instant classic, putting Enter Sandman and One into the shade. The bridge features an over-Antaresed Hetfield over some brain-scrambling riff flurries and mellow picked sections which seamlessly feed into each other, and the multi- part instrumental section puts other Prog Metal bands to shame, inventing its own logic, which it rabidly persues all the way back to the final vocal section.

Metallica then do the unthinkable. I should really hate The Unforgiven III - I hated the first one and the second one, and I can hear the musical links - the melody hearkens back to its predecessors, but this is no carbon copy - and it's not a bad song either. OK, it gave me goosebumps on my first listen, despite myself - I really, really wanted to hate this like I do the other Metallica ballads. But it's really good. Damn their eyes.

Prog Metal fans - fill your boots. This single track puts Opeth's entire Watershed album to shame. Hetfield may not be the greatest singer ever, but his unmistakable tones are really put through their paces. Hammett may not be the greatest lead guitarist, but he squeezes emotion like a tube of squeeze cheese into the heart of his solo. The same can be said of the other two guys - you feel like every band member is playing this piece of music, not simply their little bit in their own little universe, and the elusive fifth member appears - the song itself.

The Judas Kiss is up next, and here the riffs get crazy - at first, it seems like it's for the sake of doing something complicated, but the sense comes with repeated listens, and the feeling of polyrhythms, crazy time signatures and dense complex modal harmonies pervades.

The instrumental section is a real tour de force, although I can sympathise with those who get fed up with Kirk's over- use of the Wah-wah as a vehicle of expression - and I do wish he'd learn a few more chops.

There are all manner of surprises in this piece - and there's no doubt in my mind at all that this IS Progressive Metal of the best quality.

I won't cover the last two pieces, as the overall style is more of the same - but that's not to say that it's the same music over and over, because Metallica play with the textures, twist riffs inside out, back to front, upside down and inside out - and THAT IS WHAT PROG IS ALL ABOUT.

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Send comments to Certif1ed (BETA) | Report this review (#185838) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Well, yeah . definitely I am not the right person to review any Metallica album because I am actually not a fan at all even though I do not hate the music. It's basically most of my friends are metalheads as compared to proghead. That's one of the ways to keep young, isn't it? So why I am finally getting into Metallica? Simple: influence from friends plus my deep love with Dream Theater's "Stream of Consciousness" (Train of Thought) where most of my metalhead friends told me that this album of Dream Theater is very Metallica. Whenever I spin Train of Thought I always stuck with Stream of Consciousness due to its crispy melody, heavy riffs and solid composition. Then I was recommended by friends of mine to spin "And Justice For All" that unfortunately I did not like the drumming on the opening track "Blackened". So, I did not play the other tracks of that album. Later I tried black album and I do enjoy some tracks especially "Enter Sandman".

But, when I listened to "Death Magnetic" where my colleague Hardiansyah Rizal introduced me the album through "All Nightmare Long" track, it blew me away with ist excellent composition. I said to Rizal right away that the song is really "prog" because it has changing tempo and style throughout the song. And then I tried to spin the whole album and I found joy in listening to it in its entirety.

.and let me try to give my views on this album.

Like it or not, I have seen two international magazines (Classic Rock & Rolling Stone) and some local magazines had their cover story for this new album by Metallica. There are many reviews already on the net about this album. There is no need to justify how the album has influenced metal and rock scene all over the world. With my minimum knowledge about previous albums of Metallica, let me try to write my own words about this album.

The album starts "That Was Just Your Life" with an ambient effects that reminds me to Jethro Tull's "A Passion Play" ambient, followed by simple guitar fills that reminds me to Dream Theater's "Pull Me Under". Of course, they are all not the same because Metallica's music is nothing to do with Jethro Tull and Metallica is older than Dream Theater. What follows is a dynamic drumwork and heavy guitar riffs supporting vocal line in fast tempo. It's a so energetic track. The track is truly heavy and fast, and I do enjoy it very much. There are tempo and style changes that indicate a sense of prog. "The End of the Line" (7:52) has some flavor of Rush music style, performed faster with stunning riffs and melody. I like the way how double guitar play riffs and melody combined with dynamic bass guitar as well as drum work. The guitar solo at 4:44 is truly stunning even though it's quite short. The song tones down at the ending part of the track "The slave becomes The Master ." and returns back to high energy music.

"Broken, Beat & Scarred" (6:25) starts with excellent combination of guitar riffs and drum which do not sound like straight rock music. Metallica has made the music not truly sound like typical straight heavy metal music. The music runs faster at 3:46 followed with truly rockin' guitar solo in fast speed. "The Day That Never Comes" (7:56) brings the music down with catchy guitar fills followed with soft guitar riffs and drumwork. The vocal line sounds differently with blues tinge. Keep praying / Just keep waiting. Waiting for the one / The day that never comes / When you stand up and feel the warmth / But the son shine never comes, no .. It's a nice song which only peaks up with heavy music at minute 3:59. The speed then moves faster featuring guitar solo. The part at 5:44 on guitar notes are truly stunning! It's an excellent composition. I believe Dream Theater members will be amazed by this album.

Luck. Runs. Out.

"All Nightmare Long" (7:57) starts with a music with similar style like Dream Theater's "Pull Me Under" with heavy drumwork, followed by very fast and heavy music. The intro part has stimulated my adrenalin to run faster due to its beautiful and solid composition. Oh man .. I really love this track and I keep repeating this track because I love the way the vocal line is handle. So powerful! Luck. Runs. Out. Structurally, this is a progressive track as it has many tempo and style changes. This is the first track I listened to from this album and made me amazed with the dynamics of the song. Oh .. I love this kind of metal music. It's truly progressive metal tune.

"Cyanide" (6:39) is another excellent follow-up with great riffs. At minute 3:12 the music changes into different style. The guitar solo is stunning especially backed with excellent combination of dynamic drums and heavy guitar riffs. I feel like I am playing Dream Theater now..

The music tones down into nice piano touches and string section as intro of "The Unforgiven III" (7:46). Hmm .. I cannot believe this is Metallica as it's so sweet and mellow. What follows is a nice guitar fills in repeated style supported by drum. I never imagine that I truly love this melodic song and I cannot believe that this is composed by Metallica - a band that connotes to something truly happy. It reminds me to their "Nothing Else Matters" of Black album. The guitar solo that starts at 5:36 is really great and it reminds me to vintage rock music in the 70s. Metallica rules! The music brings back to "The Judas Kiss" (8:00) which also another excellent one.

Another favorite of mine is "Suicide & Redemption" (9:57) which starts brilliantly with powerful bass lines followed by stunning guitar riffs. There are riffs (minute 1:35) that remind me to Black Sabbath's "Hole In The Sky" (of "Sabotage" album) even though they a not alike. But this is truly an excellent track that satisfies me. Structurally, this is not a straightforward track at all. Suicide & Redemption is Metallica's answer to Dream Theater's Stream of Consciousness! Well, Dream Theater has to face it that this long and prog instrumental track is killing. I am totally "nggeblak!" with this track man .! Fantastic! The album concludes nicely with "My Apocalypse" (5:02).

I cannot help it ..This is a masterpiece work!

Having spun this album for more than five times with no dissatisfaction at all, I have to say straight to the point that this is a masterpiece progressive metal music. This album is definitely not a "prog related" music because in every single track there are significant characteristics that categorize this album as a progressive metal album. The only drawback of this album is the production, which is not quite good. I don't know why Rick Rubin does it this way. By saying that this is a masterpiece work, you might challenge my proggy-ness .but, I am sorry my friends, I have to tell you frankly that I admire this album. I will definitely have to trace back their previous albums. Any recommendation which one to start first? - Keep on proggin' ..!!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW (i-Rock! Music Community)

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#185839) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Review by el böthy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars So Metallica is in the archives... meh...

5 years have passed since Metallica delivered one of the worst albums in the history of not only metal, but music! Iīm talking of course about St. Anger. An album with the most horrible drum sound ever, no interesting riff, pretty mediocre lyrics, boring long same-y passages which could be seen as the instrumental sections of the songs and not one solo, fill nor harmonic desplay from Kirk Hammett. The album was absolute [&*!#] and no MTV awards, TV specials or Rolling Stone review (4 stars...) can tell me otherwise, this was pure and utter [%*!#]ing [&*!#]!

And now Death Magnetic is out. And itīs way, way better than St. Anger... but 75 min of sound check makes a better album than St. Anger, so there is no credit in what Iīve just said. But one thing is for sure: Metallica, the Metallica we all love, is back. Why? Trash metal is back! So we can all be happy and rest our heads while these 7 min songs blast out of our loudspeakers, always with a smile in our lips... right? Wrong! Death Magnetic might see Metallica being Metallica again, but itīs a pretty mediocre Metallica for that matter. No song really can hold ground against... pretty much any of their ī80 material, not even with The Black Album. Yes, it might be their best since the former mentioned Black Album, some might even say itīs their best since ...And justice for all īcause it is with the Black Album Metallica started to slip (still I would go as far as saying itīs one of their very best)... and this may be true, but, again, thatīs only īcause they have delivering crap after crap, with the culmination of the already mentioned St. Anger. At first look though we are pleasently surprised. Hey, there are some long intros! Hey, there are a lot of tempo changes! Hey, there are SOLOS! Hey, this even qualifies as Prog metal! And then you listen to it again... and itīs not that perfect, but pretty close to what they once were. And then you listen to it a third time, a fourth time... and... itīs not that good. Hetfield has forgotten how to sing metal, he seems to be singing a louder version of Lynyrd Skynyrd which does not meet with the music at all. His lyrics are just plain out stupid; "What donīt kill ya makes ya most strong" is barked repeatedly ...I must say I think I heard Power metal bands with better lyrics than these. The music is really not that exciting either, I donīt hear any lick, riff or "idea" behind these songs that really makes me think twice before writting this. The production and mixing is pretty awful too. Completly pale, what you see (4 musicians) is what you get. There is no real use of all the elements the studio can provide. The sound is not raw nor is it polished. Itīs totally pale, no substance, no "wall of sound", nothing... But I have left the worst for last: Lars Ulrichīs playing. My God, this must be not only one of the most overrated drummers in metal (with this I donīt mean he is mentioned as the best that much... but just to mention him once among the best is already too much), he is down right one of their worst, and this seems to be his "swan song" in suckyness. He down right ruins the (very little) feeling a song might have, perhaps the best example of this is the intro of "The Day That Never Comes" which just has to be heard to be belived. He really seems to want to [%*!#] it up, and man does he succeed!

But with all said and done I must, again, point out that the old Metallica is back, not in the greatest of form, but they are back none the less. Some fans even seem to really like this album, in the archives for example, there are quite a few who think of it as a great comeback. I for one can think without such fanatism and write this review not because of my love for Metallica, but for the respect I once had for the band, the true Metallica, the ī80 Metallica. And maybe they are back with this one, but meanwhiles we get this pretty mediocre album... but Metallica has gotten me used to them.

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Send comments to el böthy (BETA) | Report this review (#185857) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Review by russellk
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars METALLICA becomes METALLICA again - unfortunately.

This will not be a pleasant review. Despite being a huge BLACK SABBATH fan, I must make clear I never took to METALLICA. I detested this band in the 1980s, considering them bereft of any real musical merit, and this album does nothing to change my mind. I'm extremely disappointed in myself. I pride myself on pastoring a broad musical church, and I usually find something to love in any honest effort, irrespective of genre.

Not here, despite a desperate and thorough search.

I've tried very hard to think about why I find this album so very disappointing, and what follows is as close as I can get to the hollow emptiness this record induces in me. My sincere apologies to those who love this band: I am not setting out to offend. There's no spite in this review, and I do not object to this band being included in ProgArchives as 'Prog Related', for the way they defined their genre in the 1980s.

The root of my problem with this album is the narrowness of the music. The trouble with using such a limited palette as this to create music is that the end product is almost always monotonous. I use that word advisedly: mono-tone. The guitar tone hardly ever varies, and this leaves the only trick to be played a speeding up of the pace - hence 'thrash'. So fast are the riffs that the guitar becomes a de facto percussion instrument. This further limits any melodic or tonal quality of the music.

Song after song on this album utilises the same narrow tonal palette. With the vast breadth of sound available to musicians, I have a great deal of trouble considering a band innovative if they limit themselves to such a small portion of the vast breadth of sound available. Unless, of course, they create something intriguing with it. Fact is, these lads simply aren't talented enough to deny themselves 95% of the aural gamut.

Listening to this album is like scaling a cliff and discovering an endless plateau. All the drama is contained in the first minute of the record, and after that it's all dead level. OPETH have it right: if your tonal palette is limited, then employ dynamics (variation in volume) and diverse instrumentation (acoustic guitar, keyboard, growls and sung vocals) to give the music depth. Use guest singers, Incorporate other genres, like psychedelica. This METALLICA album, by contrast, is about as shallow as music gets.

The production doesn't help. The volume is pushed well into the red, leaving the music nowhere to go. So we get loud, loud or loud, and all the finer aspects of the music (I'm assuming there were some) are lost in the mix.

Here's METALLICA for the deaf. Guitar: ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch. Drums: boom-cha-boom-cha-boom-cha-boom-cha. Bass: * silence * (Do they actually have a bassist? And to think Les Claypool tried out for this band - and was rejected!) Vocals: la-la-la-la-la-laaa.

Whee.

And could someone tell me if LARS ULRICH is really as bad a drummer as he sounds? Couldn't he get a young session musician in to play for him? I hear RINGO STARR is looking for work. And why, oh why, is he mixed so high?

Any semblance of 'progressiveness' comes from the frantic attempts to add variations to this restrictive formula. Nonsensical chord changes and tempo shifts are the equivalent of change-ups in baseball: get a slow or fast one past the batter as he's likely gone to sleep. If you're a one-trick pony, you've got to learn to do something different or it's out of the circus and down to the knacker's yard. This one comes straight from the glue factory.

At least there are solos to relieve the monotony of the percussion-like riffing. Well, I suppose they are solos. They sound like desperate, out of control shredfests, again employing a limited range, purposeless, unmemorable. They are not prepared for (PINK FLOYD does this best, leading the listener into a solo), nor are they given any context. They could appear anywhere in any of the songs and make as much - or little - sense as they do currently. Not a single solo is in any way necessary in the structure of the song.

And this is the single biggest tragedy. METALLICA is about the sound of the music, not the structure of the music. People are impressed by the speed and volume of the sound, but (a few 1980s efforts excepted) the results are unmemorable. These 'mini-epics' would benefit from a good dose of compositional values. They have no shape. The progressive listener derives no pleasure from the form the sound takes.

I have in front of me the Official METALLICA Song Building Kit. I'll just put aside the t-shirt, and let's have a look at what's in the box. Hmmm. Here's the contents sheet. Verse (x3). Chorus (x2). Instrumental jam (x2). Guitar solo. Instructions: select elements at random. How easy is that?

And the lyrics. Are you kidding me? 'Venom of a life insane/Bites into your fragile vein' might be considered meaningful by the MANOWAR crowd, but such asinine stuff is not really suitable for adults. I suppose I'm a better person for surviving the lyrics: after all, as Hetfield says, 'What don't kill ya makes ya more strong'. What an original and innovative lyric. Urk.

Try this at home. Take any METALLICA lyric from any song on any album, and insert it into any other song on any other album. Do it randomly. Guess what: it fits! Now, ask yourself the question: why is that?

I thought this band's 1980s albums were rather poor, but honest (if limited) work like 'Ride the Lightning' and 'Master of Puppets' are veritable feasts of sonic bliss compared to this. Perhaps 'Death Magnetic' is not the worst thing METALLICA have ever done; I don't know. I've never listened to 'St. Anger', and I'm dreading the exercise.

Professional reviews of this album are largely positive, but largely consist of variations on the theme of "hearing Metallica sound like Metallica again" (AllMusic.com). So far is this band from the progressive spirit, reviewers who panned every 90s attempt to break free from their monolithical 80s sound now rejoice at this regressive album. "Just like the 80s! Best thing since '.And Justice For All'!" This, fellow proggers, ought to send you a clear message. METALLICA is not a progressive band in any sense of the word.

Best song is the instrumental 'Suicide and Redemption'. The first two minutes of 'All Nightmare Long' is rather tasty, until the thrash reappears. Sounds like I don't like thrash, eh. The odd thing is, I adore DREAM THEATER's take on METALLICA ('Train of Thought'). This is because the thrash is set in a far more meaningful context, and the music has true dynamic range. Makes this stuff sound very poor indeed, as if it needed any help.

Irrelevant and one-dimensional music that serves only one purpose: as a revenue-gathering exercise. Run a mile.

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Send comments to russellk (BETA) | Report this review (#186098) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, October 17, 2008

Review by mystic fred
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Monster Magnetic!

Metallica are back in top form - after all the hype our patience has been richly rewarded with a monster of an album, the band racing on all eight cylinders, the battery as powerful as ever. All the new songs here are good, The Day That Never Comes and The Unforgiven III will be live classics, the former being the best song I have heard from them since the And Justice/Black album era. The band have slightly moved away from their Prog influences here (I believe "...And Justice" and "Black" albums to be their most Progressive) , but this album would sit happily next to Prog metal bands like Opeth. Considering the negative reviews on the sound quality, there does seem to be something of a grainy digital edge to the music but no loss in sheer ball-breaking power, there are a lot worse sounding albums out there believe me - I agree some remastering would be in order but I write this review from the CD, the vinyl may give better results when it eventually arrives... Amazing comeback for the Kings of Metal, long may they reign!

Prog rating 4/5 Metallic Melodic Music Mayhem rating 5/5

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Send comments to mystic fred (BETA) | Report this review (#186459) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, October 20, 2008

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
4 stars The highly anticipated Metallica's 'Death Magnetic' is a welcome return to form after the appalling 'St Anger'.

The only way was up of course but this new effort really lifts to new heights and works as a type of sequel to 'And Justice For All' with lengthy tracks and hammer smashed face guitar riffs. There are also quieter moments to balance the tracks with some beautiful acoustic work, piano and strings. Overall this is the one the fans were waiting for. It is a return to the roots of what made Metallica great in the 80s and yet they reinvent their trademark style with some innovative melodies and highly original structures in each track. The new bassist, Trujillo, is particularly good and compliments the Metallica sound as Cliff Burton did in the early 80s era. I am already a fan of this album and have only heard it a few times. It tends to grow on you the more you listen to it and it is easy to identify the highlights being the first three tracks and tracks number 7 and 9. I read some reviews here who detested Metallica returning to the same old thrash style of the 80s but that is Metallica. If you don not like that style listen to Tool or Opeth. Metallica should be all out thrash becasue that is what they are all about. I am glad that they have returned to the old school style becasue when they do other stuff they sound way off kilter and it is a poor quality album (St Anger, Load, Reload). But when they hit the heights with killer riffs and breakneck speed rhythms, mixed with ballads and instrumentals, they are unbeatable (Masters Of Puppets, Ride the Lightning, And Justice For all and now Death Magnetic). Here is a breakdown of each song.

'That Was Just Your Life' is an excellent opening track that sets the pace for the shredding to come. It begins with the Pink Floydian heartbeat and then it breaks out through the wall and grinds up the silence with driving ferocity. I was amazed at the intensity and the time signature changes, and Hetfield is spot on in his vocal performance. Destined to become a Metallica classic.

'The End of the Line' has some of the best riffs churned out of the Metallica machine - on a par with 'Masters of Puppets' tracks in fact. Running for almost 8 minutes, it storms along with blistering speed. Hammet's soloing is incredible and a bit like Spinal Tap I guess, one of the bands favourite films. It sounds alot like 'Creeping Death' in places, but that is not a bad thing as that is perhaps one of their best songs.

'Broken, Beat & Scarred' is another one of the best tracks from the album featuring awesome lead breaks and crunching killer riffs to dazzle the senses. The lyrics are wonderful too.

'The Day That Never Comes' slows the pace down for a while and is beautifully performed. I absolutely love the intro and was hooked from the moment I first heard it.

'All Nightmare Long' is as good as Metallica gets with bludgeoning guitar riffing and soaring lead solos, though it does not work for me lyrically.

'Cyanide' is one of the weaker tracks but still thrashes along at a nice pace.

'The Unforgiven III' is another instalment to the vague 'Unforgiven' saga and it is absolutely brilliant. Terrific melody sung with melancholy ease and with great lyrics. One of the finest Metallica tracks and may become a fan favourite sooner that you might expect.

'The Judas Kiss' is another track I don't particularly go for both in terms of lyrics and style. But it still smashes anything on 'St Anger'!

Suicide & Redemption' is a very long guitar filled prog instrumental and absolutely one of the best Metallica instrumentals in the catalogue. I love this the more I listen to it.

'My Apocalypse' ends it all with a 'Whiplash' style speed and it all comes to a grinding halt. Immediately I put the album on and listened to it again and it was even better. At almost 76 minutes, this is an excellent quality album worthy of the Metallica canon - not quite 5 stars but good enough!

This is highly recommended and perhaps is Metallica's proggiest album ever. Absolutely one of the best CDs of 2008.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#189847) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Review by ProgBagel
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Metallica - 'Death Magnetic' 3.5 stars

I was surprised to say the least.

If you are a fan of old Metallica, or the '.And Justice for All' album, you will be very pleased to hear this. This album is, by far, their most progressive effort. The line between Metallica and prog is a little steep in my opinion, but the amount of riffs they pack into one song meets some kind of qualification. The massive amounts of riffs are tied into each other pretty well, assuring smooth transitions. There are some sure standouts, but the other songs keep up just as well.

Recommend this to Metallica fans and those who are scarred from the waist down by the likes of 'Load', 'Reload' and 'St. Anger'.

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Send comments to ProgBagel (BETA) | Report this review (#190562) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Review by J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Finally, the long awaited comeback of classic Metallica. In case you don't know much about Metallica, they stopped making decent and progressive albums from The Black Album onward. This was their awesome comeback. They released the awful St. Anger prior to this, and this is arguably their best album in my mind. Every song is from 5-10 minutes, so it is also relatively progressive.

The opening THAT WAS JUST YOUR LIFE is a very progressive song with a great prog-metal type opening and an awesome riff. THE END OF THE LINE has a similar song layout, and is also very strong. BROKEN, BEAT, AND SCARRED is more of a straightforward metal song, but is great nonetheless. THE DAY THAT NEVER COMES starts out slow, and slowly progresses into a metal section, and is arguably the best song here. ALL NIGHTMARE LONG is another more metal song with a nice chord progression. CYANIDE is a shorter song here, and the highlight is really the lyrics. THE UNFORGIVEN III is a continuation of an epic placed on previous albums. It has a classical type opening and progresses into a wicked guitar solo. The most progressive and best song on the album. THE JUDAS KISS has a really cool riff, and I particularly like the sound of the guitar here. SUICIDE & REDEMPTION is a 10-minute instrumental that is really awesome. The skill of the band is showing the most here. MY APOCALYPSE is a great closer to a superb album, and is so good that occasionally I listen to the album twice in a row because of it.

In case you didn't get this from reading the review so far, this is a superb album in every way, shape, and form. This is a must own for any metal, Metallica, prog metal, or even regular prog fan. If you aren't going to check this out because of the previous St. Anger, don't let it fool you. This is nothing like St. Anger.

Final Score: 5/5.

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Send comments to J-Man (BETA) | Report this review (#194534) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, December 20, 2008

Review by Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars An admirable attempt at returning to their glory years.

The opener tells you immediately that this is not the Metallica of the 90s nor St. Anger. The first minute is influenced by prog, having two distinct creepy motifs playing in harmony and then having two new bone-crushing riffs on top. Best introduction I ever heard on a Metallica album and the song itself is fast-paced, complex, unpredictable, and with a sense of musicality and melody. This song is a classic, almost as good as their best songs from the 80s.

Unfortunately, this is the best song here, but most of the songs here keep the complex song structures and should please Metallica fans. You can notice Hetfield returning to his roots, Hammett playing solos and trash riffs again. The closer "My Apocalypse" should please almost everyone: a brutal tune with excellent guitars and a very fine performance by Hetfield.

Some of their weaknesses come back tho: the inaudible bass *sigh*, and Ulrich sounding mediocre, especially in the second half of the One-inspired "The Day that Never Comes" where he plays a boring beat for almost four minutes. Also, there is not a lot of variation in the album, but I can say the same thing for any of the classic-era albums. You'll also notice atrocious production where it really seems like they played really loudly then tried to compress and compress. I know it's supposed to sound raw, but with a bit of polishing and common sense, you can make the album sound meaner, darker, heavier, without losing the rawness.

In Summary:

The excellent: "That was Just Your Life"

The very good: "My Apocalypse"

The good: "The End of the Line", "The Day That Never Comes", "Cyanide", "The Judas Kiss"

The decent: "Broken Beat and Scarred", "Unforgiven 3", "All Nightmare Long", "Suicide and Redemption".

It is a flawed album, but this is still a step in the right direction for Metallica and trash-metal fans should try it.

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Send comments to Zitro (BETA) | Report this review (#223986) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Death Magnetic" is the 9th full-length studio album by American heavy metal/ thrash metal act Metallica. The album was released in September 2008 by Warner Bros. Itīs been five years since the release of the disappointing "St. Anger (2003)" and new bassist Robert Trujillo (Suicidal Tendencies, Ozzy Osbourne...etc) has now had the time to become a full contributing member of the band. Iīve read interviews with Robert Trujillo from around the time when he joined Metallica and he often stated in those interviews that he loved the old Metallica albums and that he enjoyed playing the old songs more than anything. Iīm not sure Robert Trujillo should have all the credit for the sound on "Death Magnetic", as Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield are still the main songwriters, but this is very much a back to the thrash metal roots album. More importantly though the album is a much appreciated return to form after three relatively weak and for most fans disappointing albums. "Metal Up Your Ass baby!"

As mentioned above there are plenty back to the roots thrash metal elements in the music on Death Magnetic. The music is not only retro old school eighties thrash metal though as Metallica wisely utilizes some of the melodic elements they introduced on "Metallica (1991)" which means that the music on "Death Magnetic" sounds contemporary and fresh. What is most important about the songs on "Death Magnetic" though is the fact that they are all memorable and powerful which is something that canīt be said about most of the material on the last three studio albums by the band. If you ever need a soundtrack to do the toxic waltz "Death Magnetic" certainly applies. Another thing I greatly enjoy about the music on "Death Magnetic" is that the style is now again what I would call REAL metal and not watered down metalized hard rock/ heavy rock as on "Load (1996)" and "Reload (1997)" or the disastrous attempt at sounding contemporary and experimental as on "St. Anger".

There are ten tracks on the album and most of them are pretty long which means that the total playing time is 74:42 minutes. I had my fears that such a long album would be a bit too much and that there would be filler material on the album. Fortunately thatīs not true at all. All ten compositions are excellent, memorable and powerful. Take a listen to songs like "All Nightmare Long", "The Judas Kiss" (try and imagine Chucky Billy singing on this track and it would almost sound like Testament) or the really fast-paced closer "My Apocalypse". Strong and powerful thrash metal tunes that greatly impress me everytime I listen to them. But the album doesnīt lack variation either which the almost progressively structured "The Day That Never Comes", The slightly orchestrated "The Unforgiven III" and the heavy instrumental "Suicide & Redemption" proves. The album is filled to the brim with heavy riffs, aggressive yet melodic vocals, powerful rythms, enjoyable guitar solos (well... they sound like they always have, so nothing new there) and the return of what I see as a trademark Metallica feature: The multilayered guitar harmonies. I just love when they appear. It sounds so epic. In many ways "Death Magnetic" is the missing link between the powerful and technical thrash metal of "...And Justice For All (1988)" and the melodic heavy metal of "Metallica".

The production by Rick Rubin (Beastie Boys, Slayer, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Johnny Cash...etc.) definitely deserves a mention too as it brings so much to Metallicaīs sound on "Death Magnetic". While the album has a powerful and metallic sound it also features lots of warmth and debth. Rick Rubin is in a league of his own and who else could help re-ignite a seemingly tired Metallica in such a succesful way?

After listening to "Death Magnetic" I Suddenly remember that I used to be a passionate fan of a band called Metallica 15-20 years ago. All those intermediate years of disappointing albums had really made me totally indifferent towards the band but I guess my fan days arenīt completely over because with the release of "Death Magnetic" I have high hopes that Metallica have now gotten their act together and will start releasing quality heavy metal/ thrash metal again. "Death Magnetic" certainly qualifies as being just that and a 4 star rating is fully deserved. Itīs like the return of a long lost child. Welcome back!

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#236213) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Whenever there is not heavy metal site, it's nothing strange in big amount of very positive and very negative reviews of this Metallica album.For sure, there are few reasons why people like or hate this music. But quite often the main reason is if you tolerate trash/speed metal, or not.

In my opinion, speaking about heavy metal in total,Metallica is BEST world heavy metal group for a present moment. For sure, their role in progresive music is absolutely different.

I liked their early works, starting from fast'n'eavy Thunder and Lighting. After "Black Album"they had some strange period, but returned back in form right now.

Heavy drum passages, cold guitar pulsation ( no solos, no way!), some melodic lines, epic songs, few acoustic intros - all you waiting from any strong Metallica album.

The day that never come is well known because of perfect video ( VH1 is full of it month after month). Some speed elements included in usual guitar sound.

Traditionally, another version of Unforgiven. Everyone knows this melody, but I like to listen re- newed version again and again.

To be honest, the album nas two weak points only: 1) it isn't prog at all ( for me it isn't weak point, but because of site specific it should be counted as weak point), and 2) many songs are technically perfect, but melodically faceless.

In total, absolutely perfect heavy metal album, but because of site specific should be awarded just of 4,5 stars.

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#239883) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, September 18, 2009

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
2 stars I don't like back-to-roots albums. I need to make that clear before starting to assess the actual music here. As soon as a band starts to shout they've gone back to their roots, they will only be met with double scorn from me. My first reaction being "So, you guys do think as well that your previous albums where rubbish!", and my second "So, you admit you don't have the creativity nor imagination to pull off something new!". Sad, really sad.

Besides, most of these back to roots aren't good anyway and only makes one nostalgic for the days the band was really exciting. There are a few exceptions though, to stay in the thrash scene, both Testament's recent Formation of Damnation and this year's Endgame from Megadeth are good albums. But Metallica's Death Magnetic doesn't come near.

First of all I have to mention the production again, or the mastering if you like. It's been discussed to death already so I'll keep it short and simple: this album is compressed too much, resulting in a non-dynamic sound that makes your ears ring after 20 minutes.

On occasion. strong pieces like the opener That Was Just Your Life almost make the old glory come back, but generally every track is at least 2 or even 3 minutes too long. The End Of TheLine has some potential but at 8 minutes? C'mon, this gets weary after 5.

On top of that, most of the material is devoid of good hooks and melodies, Broken, Beat & Scarred tries to be exiting for 6 full minutes but ends up being as bland and faceless as any track on St Anger. The Day That Never Comes is a disaster. How can anyone listen to this and not want to play One or even Nothing Else Matters instead? It ends in One fashion with fast parts and solos but it's completely derivative and stale.

All Nightmare long is the only track with some merit here next to the opener. It's way too long again and it has trite vocals. Essentially this is no Metallica but Slayer, but still it is enjoyable once in a while. Cyanide however is a boring blues stomp that is completely devoid of good riffs and melodies. And it's not that I only like music with good riffs or melodies, butthis is heavy metal, a genre that has to survive on hooks and catchy leads. None to be found here though.

Well I've made my point by now. This album is as bad as St Anger. But if you can ignore the loud mastering you may find a few interesting moments. Nothing special, ok for a few spins. Fans like it though so that is where I'll put it. 2 stars.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#255585) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, December 11, 2009

Review by poslednijat_colobar
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars ...And Justice for All part II. The unexpected return to form.

Congratulations to Metallica, again! Again, but twenty years later. It's incredibly how they returned from trash to thrash. I think the most important about this record is Metallica is back. It's the same old band. Metallica are again creating music in the genre they are able to: thrash metal. And this is wonderful! They are made for thrash metal, not for country, blues, alternative music or noise. It's popular they failed when they try to create different kind of music. Just look at Load, Reload and especially St. Anger... But not it's all in the past and Metallica are going to save their honour. In fact, they have already saved it - with Death Magnetic!

In my opinion Death Magnetic is direct successor to the best Metallica album - ...And Justice for All in terms of everything. It has been made with the philosophy and the tradition of 80's Metallica, without being repulsively commercial as Metallica have been the last twenty years. It's again based on complex sutructures and ideas, and nicely-heavy tunes in thrash manner. There is demo version of the album, before the release as it has been until ...And Justice for All album. Death Magnetic have been recorded in E tuning, as they did on their first five studio album. The band had previously played in E flat during the recordings of Load and ReLoad, and dropped C on St. Anger. That's indicative of the return to old days, too! All that helps Death Megnetic to become a new reason of pride for the band. But the return to old style is not the only necessary element for a pleasant album. There are more...

The previous paragraph in my review shows one thing - This album is the missing link, between ...And Justice for All and Metallica. Moreover, directly, it's the best Metallica album in twenty years. It's the logical sequel to ...And Justice for All. They continue from where they have stopped in the late 80s. Death Magnetic is very close to ...And Justice for All in terms of style, so the title of my review is ...And Justice for All part II. If we look back to Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets, they are little different type of thrash metal, than ...And Justice for All and Death Magnetic. As whole, each of them is a logical sequel to the previous one.

I thought whether to review all songs one by one or not. At the end I decided not to review them one by one, because they all carry the spirit of the album as a hole. The impression is as an album just like it should be! This doesn't mean the songs aren't memorable, contrary. There aren't weak songs here. All of them are catchy and interesting, complex and full of surprises (this wasn't happening for about fifteen years), as well as very long. The drumming style of Lars Ulrich is highly addictive, the solos by Kirk Hammett are very fast and completed, the vocals by James Hetfield are charming. The album is full of rhythm guitars which took partly the role of bass player - Robert Trujillo, who appears as a debutant on a Metallica studio album. Bass guitar is very low tuned and often sits at the background of the performance, but it's usual for Metallica.

As whole Death Magnetic is very dynamic and energetic album with superb musicianship and ingenious songwriting with little number of non-thrash metal elements. There is one exception and it is The Unforgiven III. It's a sequel ballad to The Unforgiven series (I and II), which I consider as perfect song. It shows high level of human maturity, in my opinion. It's the best Unforgiven song I think. The Unforgiven III is one of the two dramatical pieces on the album; it contains fresh dramatical balance between ballad and heavy rocking song. The other dramatical piece on Death Magnetic is the first single of the album - The Day That Never Comes. Its structure reminds directly to One, the breakthrough single by Metallica from ...And Justice for All album. It begins as a ballad and gradually convert to more and more dramatical piece until its culmination like thrash monster. The other resemblance is their number on their respective albums - 4. This makes The Day That Never Comes direct reference to One and Death Magnetic direct reference to ...And Justice for All.

Highly addictive, the most progressive album by Metallica , Death Magnetic - 3 3/4 stars!!!

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Send comments to poslednijat_colobar (BETA) | Report this review (#262064) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, January 23, 2010

Review by jampa17
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The best comeback of the decade.

I have never been fan of Metallica in general and during all my teen years I grow hearing the boring albums of them in the 90's. After St. Anger I really wished they split because was enough road downhill... but a friend showed me this album and I didn't expect it. Right from the start you know they really were back. Incredible how they spent more than 10 years doing bad music and suddenly decided that they really wanted to do music again? so, let's see about the album:

The album has everything Metallica is known of. Heavy and creative riffing courtesy of the best riff guitar player of metal, mr. Hetfield, tight and fast solos by Hammet at top form, even Ulrich sound like he is a great drummer (he is the most overrated average drummer, but he really plays loud on this) and a lot of instrumental sections, switching time signatures and the best Trash metal you can get as well as moody melancholic songs. All in all, this album has everything you want if you are a Metallica or are Metal fan in general.

Highlights of the album: Broken, Beat & Scarred, The End of the Line, All Nightmare Long and Unforgiven III (with a nice piano that is always welcome between a too metal mix) but in general all the songs are heavy, tight and somewhat creative, for a metal measure, of course.

The bads: a totally subjective for me, Hetfield's voice is not that great and I don't like it too much and sometimes it really bores me but the music was good enough to keep me interested. The instrumental song (Suicide and Redemption) is a little too metal and is not that great as the rest of the album but it's still good, especially for metalheads. The lyrics are stupid, but they have never been known by their brilliance in the lyric themes, but is not that bad to not appreciate the music.

Maybe is not essential to a prog collection but it's a metal most have without doubt. 4 stars because of the contribution of Metallica to the genre and it's a great album which could matches well with some of the heaviest prog-metal highlights (I feel like this album is a human Train of Thought, not as crazy as DT but in the same vibe). Especially recommended to those who have loose faith in the masters? Metallica is certainly back.

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Send comments to jampa17 (BETA) | Report this review (#262560) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Review by JJLehto
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Metallica, one the best metal bands there ever was, died in 1991. I thought they'd stay that way forever, but one day the metal gods decided they could not deny us loyalists any more, so they revived them! Yeah, being silly and dramatic but as a die hard early Metallica fan/rabid hater of their post AJFA stuff it really was like a godsend. The name "Death Magnetic" almost made me sick, it was that bad a name though.

Whatever, this is a good album. Not anything proggy, but for any prog-metal fan, (or any progger that has a very tolerable palette) should give this a try. For the latter people, this album is metal but certainly not anything to intense.

"Death Magnetic" is indeed a throwback to the thrashy days of Metallica. While it does have that, and some moments are certainly thrashy!, it is not too bad overall. The song "My Apocalypse" is the thrashiest song, and a great way to end the album.

There is no real bad song on this album. The weakest is "The Unforgiven III" but even this one is not terrible. The best songs are "The Day that Never Comes", "Suicide and Redemption" the nearly ten instrumental, and a great one at that, and "My Apocalypse". This album has a lot of really great riffs, some awesome rhythm guitar work from Mr. Hetfield, (who is the better musician IMO), some thrash, some melodicism, some heavy, some mellow. Good variety on the album. There are some pretty good solos, and they actually sound kind of unique, (one of Kirk's criticism I've heard were solos that all sounded the same). And perhaps the biggest musical improvement is the drumming!

I have made no secret that I think Lars is a mediocre drummer, but really St. Anger was abysmal. With "Death Magnetic" Lars seems to have relearned the absolute basic of drumming, keeping a beat. Yeah, he can keep a thrash beat on tempo! OK, I will be polite and give him the benefit of the doubt, MAYBE possibly on St. Anger he was trying to drum off beat like some of my drumming hero's. If so, he failed miserably. Nicely done on DM, Lars.

One major downside is the sound quality. This is usually not an issue with me, so when I bring it up we have a problem. Apparently, running this album through a sound program shows all the volumes are just pumped to the max. I don't know about all that, but this album is of pretty poor quality considering the band involved. There's a lot of static. Some parts, (I noticed it real bad on The Day that Never Comes) are just awful. My brother gave me the Guitar Version, (the whole album was uploaded for a guitar hero game). The quality is MUCH better! If you can somehow get your hands on this, it is a huge upgrade. Also, this version has 2 different versions of Suicide and Redemption. One with a Hammett solo, and one with a Hetfield solo. I think they mixed the two together for the album. I prefer Hetfields! Anyway, that is not this album, per se.

A good album. Lots of really damn good riffs, good song compositions, solo's, just everything. Sure, like a lot of Metallica some parts drag, but it's not too big an issue. The sound quality is pretty poor, but it wasn't enough to stop me the first time I listened. Good for any metal fan, and you proggers with some taste for less intense metal. However, not prog of course. I'd say four stars myself, but for this site...

Three Stars

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Send comments to JJLehto (BETA) | Report this review (#285189) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, June 06, 2010

Review by CCVP
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Master, (re)load the justice for all the saint's anger: ride and kill them all

Oh yes, Death Magnetic. This album is, or was, one of the most hyped and overblown news of 2008. If you were waiting for something as bad as the last 15 years of the band have been, well, for the first time (in a long time) you were wrong. This time there IS something different from the cheesy riffs and songs the band has put out in the last decade and a half: the band has come up with a new sound (which is 99% inspired on their old sound + 1% from their new post-1989 approach on heavy metal, by the way). Could it be really true?

Yes, it can. After disappointing their fans (and the whole world, actually) time and time again with (way) below-the-average releases for almost two decades, Metallica has finally come to its senses and decided to go back to was worked and what gave them their fame: awesome thrash metal. Although it is somewhat questionable for some the fact that they are playing thrash again, mostly for the tr00 kvlt and frostbitten headbangers, one thing is clear as water for most people: their latest album displays a well deserved and MUCH needed return to form, on the most literal of meanings, making the band go back in time 19-21 years in time. In spite of not being as good as the albums it was inspired (according to Lars Ulrich, band owner and spokesman, the album was highly inspired by ...And Justice for All and Master of Puppets), it is obvious that the Magnetic Death is light-years away from the less-than-desirable St. Anger.

The resemblance between those two classics and Death Magnetic, despite not being obvious at the first sight (or listening) sure is there. All three albums have long, well worked and have quite complex songs (especially Justice and Magnetic). Hell, they even made an especial instrumental epic for the album, just like good ol' times. Death magnetic, however, gets closer to ...And Justice for All in most ways, to the point that the disposition and style of the songs in both albums are similar.

The response to this was as positive as it was obvious that Metallica was not doing the right thing in the studios between 1996 and 2003: the sales went through the roof, making Death Magnetic the best charted album of the band since their 1996 album Load, and that even though the album leaked before the official release date and the huge amount if illegal downloads. It won the acclaim of the specialized media, as well as a number of awards, including 5 Grammys. Some even went as far as saying that Metallica finally sounded like Metallica again.

As most good things, Death magnetic did not was free from criticism and negative feedback. Those who admired the band's direction in Load, Reload and St. Anger (and they are not few) and their more alternative oriented sound, were obviously disappointed with their latest output, exactly because it is a return-to-form album.

Another criticism about the album is the loud production Rick Rubin gave Death Magnetic. Instead of keeping the music's normal dynamics, the famous metal producer decided to surrender himself to the loudness war and maximized the sound or the music recorded, generating clipping and audible distortion.

Despite the fan-effort to make the band release a normal not-loud album, but I don't think they would really do that. I mean, ...And Justice for All is 20+ years old and they still didn't released an album version of it that has clearly audible bass lines.

Let's also not forget the Lars Ulrich's everlasting struggle to play a rhythmic instrument on the right time, even though he is in a studio and has all that human and technological support available to mankind. With almost 30 years playing in a thrash metal band, how can he still not play the drums on time?

Grade and Final Thoughts

Adding everything, it is hard not to be convinced that Death Magnetic is a pretty decent and solid release. Sure, it not as good as the ones the band had during their prime, but most people would agree that this album deserves the praise it received. It is heavy, it is somewhat proggy, it is a very decent and well worked return to form and it is a very good album by itself, despite not being some kind of masterpiece.

Because of that, the 4 stars rating would be the most fitting.

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Send comments to CCVP (BETA) | Report this review (#297910) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Review by tarkus1980
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The first decade of the 21st century was a rough one for Metallica, to say the least. First came the Napster debacle, with the band becoming public enemy number one in the music industry. Then came Jason's acrimonious split from the rest of the band. Then came all the stuff that happened during the recording of St. Anger, captured in all of its gory detail in the documentary Some Kind of Monster (a fine way to spend a couple of hours, by the way). And then, of course, was the general reaction of all but a small percentage of the band's fans to St. Anger; that it was one of the worst albums ever made by a major heavy metal band. By 2004 or so, the only things keeping the band from becoming an irredeemable joke in the eyes of most of the hard rock/heavy metal world were (a) a strong back catalogue (only through 1991 at absolute latest, of course) and (b) a great live show (mainly featuring, naturally, material recorded through 1991). It pretty much seemed like the band, as well as the majority of fans, was pretty much eager to pretend that its entire history past 1991 never happened. Consequently, it became pretty clear by this point that the only way the world was going to take a new Metallica album seriously was if the band followed the longtime wishes of a large portion of its fanbase to return to its classic sound (these wishes had been made known loudly for years, of course, but the band could afford to ignore them up to this point). Thus came Death Magnetic.

I have mixed emotions about the notion of Metallica returning so closely to its former sound on this album. The band's stated goal while recording the album was, essentially, to create the missing link between Justice and Metallica, and they certainly accomplish that task well. Now, I definitely agree with the idea that Metallica needed a significant change from the sound of St. Anger, and I say that as somebody who enjoys the album far more than other people. Whereas a lot of people seemed to assume that St. Anger reflected a significant change (for the worse) in general music philosophy for the band, I always felt that St. Anger was clearly a one-off kind of affair. More than anything, it was a fascinating look into the psyche of a middle-aged band falling apart at the seams, and it worked for me despite its many weaknessess largely because there's really nothing else like it (maybe others are similar in sound, but vibe is something else) out there. Well, and because I think a lot of the riffs are interesting, but that's another issue. Attempting to repeat that kind of sound, especially with the lack of guitar solos, wouldn't have worked out well at all.

Still, I find it a little disappointing that the band reached a point where it was so terrified of trying something new and failing that it decided to cling so tightly to a formula it hadn't used in a studio album in over 20 years. Aside from the fact that the album almost completely pretends the mid-90's and beyond never happened (apart from some slightly bluesy lines here and there), there's also the matter of the incredible level of blatant self-plagiarism, both on the general level and in specific details. The album apes the structure and form of Justice so closely in places that it even manages to resurrect that album's two greatest flaws: the hysterical undermixing of the bass guitar, and the way some of the songs feel overly stretched out and like they're a bunch of riffs cut-and- pasted together (with this problem coming through strongest in, naturally, the second track). Of course, there's a lot of aping of Lightning and Puppets as well (naturally, since Justice largely aped those albums to begin with), and some strong nods to Metallica in places too. Some fans will be thrilled to hear variations of the same old familiar ideas, but this is definitely an inferior companion to all of those great albums of yore.

Fortunately, the album has a lot of strengths to compensate for these flaws. It may be somewhat to the band's detriment that they returned so forcefully to the formula of yore, but at the same time it's really impressive that they managed it so well. The album's biggest coup is the complete rebirth of Kirk Hammett, whose soloing is more diverse and more inspired than it's been in years. There's still heavy use of the wah-wah pedal, of course, but it's mixed in well with other tones, and thus it has stronger impact in the moments when it's brought out. Hence, the band's greatest strength, its marvelous guitar interplay, shines just as well here as it ever did. I should also give credit to James' lyrics; one of the reasons I feared the band's return to thrash was that I thought that the lyrics would betray the band's rust more than any other feature, bordering on self-parody, but there aren't many moments that sound obviously awful, and that pleases me. The jury's still out for me on how I feel about James' singing on this album, though; he's got a lot of power here, as usual, and he hits the notes fine, but his usual over-emoting/hamming starts to grate on me a bit. Only a little, though.

And, of course, the songs are mostly just fine. Of the ten tracks here, only two seem obviously second rate to me. "Cyanide" has an interesting enough basic pattern to make for a good three minute track, but it gets repeated incessantly until the song becomes an almost seven minute bore. Then, of course, there's the one track that veers much closer to Metallica than to Justice: "The Unforgiven III." It's much better than "The Unforgiven II," but it's nowhere near as good as the first version, and the lengthy piano, string and horn introduction makes it feel like an overblown Guns and Roses ballad than a classic Metallica song. Plus, it doesn't really do anything well that the original version didn't do better, aside from a rather rousing build into a nice solo in the sixth minute.

The rest is quite nice, though. The opener, "This Was Just Your Life" sounds a bit too close to "Blackened" in a couple of spots for my taste (some of the vocal lines sound like they're lifted straight from that song), but it does a marvelous job of showing right away that the band had rediscovered that groove they'd left behind so long ago. The various riffs are magnificent, the vocal parts are genuinely memorable, and there's a solid solo right on schedule. "The End of the Line" reminds me a lot of the title track to Justice in some ways, but the main riff is a lot bluesier than anything from that album, and once again the other parts are done with flair. Were I in charge, I'd have shut down the song after the energetic, pounding climax with a couple of minutes to go, rather than letting the song go through a quiet bridge before returning to the main riff, but that's a relatively minor quibble.

"Broken, Beat and Scarred" is a solid mid-tempo stomper, driven by a tight groove and some nice work in the backing vocals. And, of course, there's a nice mid-song solo. The next track, then, falls squarely into the mold of "Fade to Black." I don't just mean in general similarities: I mean that the opening of "The Day That Never Comes" sounds almost EXACTLY like the opening of "Fade to Black," just with louder production, and the general flow of the song is basically a clone of that track. The track would be almost insulting, were it not for the fact that the guitar interplay in the thrashy climax is TOTALLY AWESOME. It's not quite on the perfection level of the corresponding section of "One," but it's close: there are ideas here that I've never come close to hearing from the band previously, even if I certainly recognize the general vocabulary of what they're doing. The only other track in my collection where there's quite this level of disparity between how I feel about the main song portion of a track and the extended instrumental coda would be "Every Day," from the Steve Hackett solo album Spectral Mornings. Overall, the song turns out pretty awesome.

The next track, "All Nightmare Long," starts off with another bluesy intro riff, before turning into a weird mix of the band's history. The delivery of the first vocal line is definitely reminiscient of the delivery of the first vocal line in "Wherever I May Roam," and the chord sequence in the chorus seems awfully Load-ish (the good parts, not the bad parts) to me, but the main attraction of the song is definitely the hardcore up-tempo instrumental parts (kinda reminding me of "Disposable Heroes"). It definitely sounds to me like what I'd have expected the band to sound like in the 90's had it explicitly stayed more in a thrash mode. Two tracks later, after "Cyanide" and "Unforgiven III," comes one of my two favorite tracks of the album, "The Judas Kiss." It has some of the most interesting tempo and meter changes on the album, but when it settles into a solid groove, it does that aspect as well as anything else on the album. Plus, it has some of Kirk's most varied and most interesting soloing on the album, which says quite a bit for this album. Two tracks after that comes the finale, "My Apocalypse." It won't make anybody forget "Damage Inc." or "Dyers Eve," but it's still a decent enough stab at tapping into the "angry speedy finale" part of the classic formula. James doesn't sound anywhere near as menacing as he's clearly trying to, but the riffs are ok, and that helps make the album leave a good taste in my mouth.

In a nice gesture, completing the throwback to the 80's format, the second to last track of the album is a ten-minute instrumental, "Suicide and Redemption," and I like it enough to name it as my other favorite. No, it will never surpass the three great instrumentals the band did in the 80's, as this seems a lot more like "combine a bunch of leftover riffs" than "write like we would any other track," but it's a great and varied bunch of leftover riffs, and that makes me happy. Plus, one of the sections features Kirk playing one of the loveliest lines he's played in forever, and other parts actually let the basslines shine through, a rare occurrence on this album indeed. Kudos must be given to the band for not only trying but actually succeeding in making an instrumental that (ideally) should be as much of a live staple as any of the other instrumentals.

Overall, I'd have to say that the aspects which make this album quite enjoyable are also largely the same aspects that prevent me from having any chance of really loving it. Aside from the near constant sense of "yup, I've heard this before, even if it's still kinda awesome," there's also the overly loud production, which makes the album jump out very easily but which also limits the presence of any serious contrast (a shame, because Metallica did contrast awfully well back in their hey-day). Good songs must be given their due in the end, though, and this album definitely delivers. A shorter version of the album, whether through edits to individual songs or through lopping off the two tracks I'm not really fond of, would probably make it a solid **** instead of a low one, but that doesn't really matter. I definitely recommend it for longtime fans, and if this doesn't satisfy them, I don't know what could.

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Send comments to tarkus1980 (BETA) | Report this review (#574656) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, November 24, 2011

Latest members reviews

4 stars While I was writing this review, I tried to figure out why Death Magnetic has a poorer reputation than the band's first four albums. I haven't listened to Load/Reload/St. Anger, probably because the general opinion of them is so poor. I found two primary reasons for the criticism. The first i ... (read more)

Report this review (#1059519) | Posted by thwok | Monday, October 14, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars What a shame. Death Magnetic is a return to form, Metallica's best album in twenty years, and possibly their best ever. What could have been a masterpiece is sullied by the horrible sound quality, complete lack of dynamic range and brickwalled mastering. A victim of the so-called "Loudness ... (read more)

Report this review (#921501) | Posted by coasterzombie | Saturday, March 02, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars With "Death Magnetic", Metallica heavily tried to satisfy many fans from the old days that were disappointed with the more experimental records the band had done before. This album goes back to the thrash roots of the band and could have been the successor of the band's masterpiece "?And Justice For ... (read more)

Report this review (#383256) | Posted by kluseba | Wednesday, January 19, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I'm sorry but no matter what ANYBODY tells you, Metallica is NOT a progressive band whatsoever. They are a metal band and that's it. On a website where you would expect people to know what progressive is, it astounds me that people are justifying this as prog. Note: I'm saying they shouldn't be ... (read more)

Report this review (#287583) | Posted by skihero45 | Sunday, June 20, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Metallica is not prog!Metallica is not prog!Metallica is noi prog!It's a true blasphemy to put Metallica on a progressive site!I am sorry,but definitelly,METALLICA don't have anything to do with prog music!Of course,I am not absurd to deny this band's obvious importance in the history of music ... (read more)

Report this review (#261417) | Posted by Ovidiu | Monday, January 18, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars After over a decade of being ripped apart by critics, and after the critical failure that was 'St. Anger', Metallica have finally blasted back with an album that kicks all the critics square in the face, and leaves their stamp that they are still the kings of Heavy Metal. Prior to the album's re ... (read more)

Report this review (#255491) | Posted by Valarius | Thursday, December 10, 2009 | Review Permanlink

1 stars God, Metallica were once an intresting band. The 80's was a great time for them, 4 quite great albums, good songs, they even were flirting with prog and at times classical music, making very beautiful compositions which appeased to both prog and metal fans. But what is this filth, oh my god. Wo ... (read more)

Report this review (#249417) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Monday, November 09, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Death Magnetic is an excellent edition to any prog music collection. Well obviously of course, if you can tolerate heavy metal. Which most fans of progressive rock are quite open minded, seeing the nature of the genre, so I can imagine lots of prog fans would like this. I was very excited to h ... (read more)

Report this review (#199761) | Posted by HammerOfPink | Monday, January 19, 2009 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Sometimes I don't understand what do collaborators like in an album. Actually, Death Magnetic is one of these ones. I'm not familiar with Metallica's other works, in fact, I only know the Unforgivens and S&M. When I first listened to DM, after three songs I was wondering why they put the sam ... (read more)

Report this review (#196057) | Posted by Diaby | Monday, December 29, 2008 | Review Permanlink

2 stars In mi opinion this is still a prog. related album and not a prog metal album. And is a far prog related. Here we do not listen to songs as we were in the eighties Metallica (at that time some songs were really prog metal songs). This is the same Metallica of last albums.Good pop metal son ... (read more)

Report this review (#186507) | Posted by robbob | Monday, October 20, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Okay, Metallica is not prog, certainly, but they are fairly progressive for a metal band, in fact far too progressive to be called Thrash Metal. So I think their inclusion under prog related is understandable, if a bit of a stretch. I thought this album was going to suck, as all of the Youtube f ... (read more)

Report this review (#186099) | Posted by King Crimson776 | Friday, October 17, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Just like their fellow thrashers Slayer and Exodus, the guys from Metallica have managed to return to 1000% metal form. The debut of Mr. Robert Trujillo on bass and Rick Rubin at the producer's helm, 'Death Magnetic' is the heaviest release by 'Tallica ever since 'Justice' has been brought the w ... (read more)

Report this review (#185645) | Posted by In the Flesh? | Tuesday, October 14, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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