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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Metallica: Death Magnetic

Year released: 2008
Label: Vertigo Records
Official Websites: www.metallica.com, www.metclub.com


1. That Was Just Your Life [7:08]

2. The End Of The Line [7:52]

3. Broken, Beat & Scarred [6:26]

4. The Day That Never Comes [7:56]

5. All Nightmare Long [7:58]

6. Cyanide [6:40]

7. The Unforgiven III [7:47]

8. The Judas Kiss [8:01]

9. Suicide & Redemption [9:58]

10. My Apocalypse [5:01]

Californian metal giants, Metallica, comprising of James Hetfield (Vocalist), Lars Ulrich (Drummer), Kirk Hammett (Lead Guitarist), and Robert Trujillo (Bassist), are back with a new, explosive album that rages on throughout the 74 minutes or so of album time with an energy that masks their age but showcases the immortality of metal music.

True to their early thrash roots, Metallica has taken a step back in time and embraced their original beginnings, and the result is an album chocked full of earnest, head-bangin' metal songs. The album theme is as apocalyptic as ever, addressing issues like hopelessness, guilt, death, religion, most of which are typically covered by most if not all metal bands. Being one of the Big Daddies of metal, it is not surprising that Metallica would have an album theme like this as well. What sets them apart from most other young metal bands these days however, is the fact that they do not try to be someone they are not – they remain true to their sound. In fact, this album stands out for the very fact that it does not stand out, as Metallica has ironically managed to spruce up this increasingly stereotypical metal theme with the usual punishing guitar riffs, ear-pounding drum beats that do not lose out to a piledriver's, and angsty vocals; all of which were previously the standard 3-in-1 package deal that came to be associated with most thrash metal albums.

Seems like only the metal scene is tolerant of staunch, genre-abiding artistes, and it sure is a scene that has enjoyed commercial success in recent years.

The only complaints I might have about this album however, would be the length of the individual album tracks themselves. The tracks are almost as lengthy as Dream Theater's rock symphonies of songs, and being thrash and not progressive metal, hearing 5 minutes or more of tearing guitar solos and rhythmically simple drum beats tend to get boring after making your way through half of the chaotic world of Death Magnetic. Long songs are not necessarily boring, but if an artiste wish for its fans to appreciate every second of such lengthy songs, they have to inject some novelty into the instrumentals or vocals, say, like having more complicated rhythms for the drums of course. Overall, the long guitar solos that bridge sections of the titanic songs together are melodic enough (for thrash metal), but they tend to get boring too as the bridges seem a tad too long.

Rawr!: The bad-ass members of Metallica - From left to right, Kirk Hammett (Lead Guitar), James Hetfield (Vocalist), Lars Ulrich (Drums), and Robert Trujillo (Bass Guitar)

As described by music reviewer Josh Tyrangiel, “The songs fly by with the force of the world's angriest amusement-park ride.” (TIME, September 29, 2008), but after riffing and ripping for minutes and minutes on a sole track alone, much of the energy listeners felt initially would have all but diminished. Velocity and raw power alone are not going to make listeners want to listen on beyond the 3-minute mark, but they do succeed in giving listeners some additional 'music fodder', which means tracks that are listenable when you have no desire to listen to any particular song at the moment but just want to pump some air vibrations into your ear canals.

Overall, this is a good album. Death Magnetic is brilliant in that it reminds metal fans yet again why thrash metal was so popular to begin with, and it certainly does get adrenaline pumping into one's veins as the songs speed by. Apart from the lengthiness, the album is not bogged down by any other disamenities, unless you count the music purists' view of metal music as noisy, unrefined, and a jumble of sounds mixed together in the 'wrong' way.

So, if you feel like you need to hear what thrash metal is all about, this would be the perfect album of 2008 to get and start off with. Non-fans of thrash metal however, you can always still give Metallica a try as well, and perhaps try to appreciate the music of one of the metal pioneers that inspired most modern American metal bands, and even influenced peers such as Megadeth and Black Sabbath.

The two music videos above are of the nicer songs off the album, watch and enjoy!

Verdict: 8.9

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