It’s no secret that Metallica needed a good slap in the face after their failed 2003 release, St. Anger. If the “Some Kind of Monster” documentary about the recording of the album did anything, it proved that egotistical whining and group therapy sessions can’t create a solid record, or anything close to it.
So it comes as no surprise that Death Magnetic, the band’s ninth studio release, is a hard-fought attempt at a comeback with one goal: To regain respect from fans of late ‘80s Metallica.
And that’s exactly what Death Magnetic is – a shot at the past. They’ve re-adapted their long instrumental segments, almost entirely E-minor tuning and actual guitar solos, dropping longtime producer Bob Rock and enlisting Rick Rubin in the process. For the most part, lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist James Hetfield’s vocals stay within his non-melodic limitations – something he really should have done in previous releases throughout the past 20 years. In the traditional Metallica method, the album’s numerous instrumental segments put a lot of distance between Hetfield’s lyrics.Death Magnetic doesn’t reach very far in terms of depth and creativity. Hetfield’s riffs aren’t as creatively impressive as they are fast, and lead guitarist Kirk Hammett’s solos, as usual, are somewhat uninspiring. Ironically, the entire album can be downloaded and played on Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.
But overall, most lacking is any sense of finesse from drummer Lars Ulrich. While his playing isn’t as annoyingly tinny as it was on St. Anger, every drum track feels sloppy and dull.
“The Day That Never Comes” runs like a cheaply pieced-together ballad, with an even cheaper mini-instrumental jam tacked on at the end. Meg White could have recorded a better drum track for the song.
They’ve turned around, but they’re still diving in the shallow end. Just like old times.
Give these tracks a listen:
“The End Of The Line“
“The Day That Never Comes“
For fans of:
– Justin T. Ho