Sunday, June 10, 2012

Metallica- Death Magnetic (2008)

An Impressive Return to Form
Metallica- Death Magnetic (2008)
Rating: 70%

Metallica’s newest record, Death Magnetic, is a rip-roaring return to classic form, and re-establishes the band as the reighning kings of commercial Heavy Metal. Impressive guitar work, progressive song structures, and lyrics dealing with themes of death and redemption are elements that echo the late 80’s ‘golden’ era of Metallica. Specifically the progressive thrash classic ‘…And Justice For All”.
Since their landmark commercial smash “The Black Album” in 1991, Metallica have been caught in a creative and popular decline that has lasted over a decade. This trend reached its climax with the disastrous St. Anger in 2003 and the release of an all- too revealing documentary titled ‘Some Kind Of Monster’ in 2004.

 In the years since, old school metal has experienced a major resurgence in popularity. This can be attributed to the appeal of bands such as Avenged Sevenfold and Trivium, both of whom consider Metallica to be their biggest influence. Another factor in this phenomenon are the video games Guitar Hero and Rock Band, who introduce hordes of new fans to the music of hard rock and metal bands everyday.

The public’s newfound interest in heavy metal prompted Metallica to dig themselves out of the creative grave and redeem themselves with a record that brings new life to the monster.  In September 2008, they released the incredible ‘Death Magnetic’. Tracks such as ‘That Was Just Your Life’, The Judas Kiss’, and the album’s frantic closer ‘My Apocalypse’ are all evidence that Metallica still possess the thrash metal chops that made their first three albums masterpieces within the genre. ‘Cyanide’ and ‘The End Of The Line’ are a bit more mellow and rocking songs, but are just as effective and memorable, having melodic and fluid verses that flow into catchy choruses that sound larger than life.

Perhaps the greatest song on the album is the incredible ballad ‘The Day That Never Comes’. Beginning with a touching vocal line and lyrics dealing with lead singer and guitarist James Hetfield’s troubled youth, the song picks up near the end, before evolving into an all out assault complete with an impressive guitar solo from lead Guitarist Kirk Hammet. The song is similar to their grammy award winning epic ‘one’, which appeared on ”..And Justice For All”.

The album isn’t without its flaws though. ‘The Unforgiven III’, while not a terrible song, doesn’t quite live up to the power and beauty of its predecessors, ‘Unforgiven’ and ‘Unforgiven II’. ‘Suicide and Redemption’ is a ten-minute long instrumental that seems overlong and plodding in some areas, but still features marvelous guitar playing from James and Kirk.

 Redemption plays an important part in the lyrical and musical themes of this record. The advertisements promised Death Magnetic to be ‘The Return Of Metallica’, the record that would rescue Metallica from the grave they dug themselves into over the years. That’s exactly what this record represents, the redemption of Metallica, the rebirth of their creativity, and the hope for new life and music to continue in the future.

Overall, Death Magnetic is an exhilarating dose of Metal that seems custom fit for the changing culture of the new millennium. It is the true return to form the fans have been waiting for, complete with thoughtful lyrics, riffs, and actual guitar solos. With a running time of 75 minutes, this record reveals new secrets with every listen, and never grows dull or old. With a North American tour planned for this winter, the future seems bright for Metallica, fans can only hope it doesn’t take another five years to produce a follow up.

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