by / September 17th, 2008 /

Metallica – Death Magnetic

 3/5 Rating

(Warner Bros)

Metallica are a band used to dealing with crisis points. The departure of Dave Mustaine, the death of Cliff Burton, Jason Newsted, Napster, James Hetfield disappearing into rehab – what hasn’t killed this band has only made them stronger. Their own music has presented them with a few problems too. Since the Metallica album launched them to megastar status they have seemed unsure where to go next. There have been recordings with orchestras, a lot of compilations, remixes and the experimentation too far of the Load album; none of which left them in an invincible situation. That they manage to record St Anger at all was a miracle, yet it was hardly a triumph in anyone’s terms.

Yet still we flock back to Metallica, like we do to Oasis, hoping that this time they’ll get it right again. Tellingly, they have looked backwards to move forward, revisiting the thrash metal sound of their youth. Not a bad idea, but one that throws them up against other extreme young bucks such as Slipknot. And while it can’t be denied that they can still play hard and fast for a bunch of 45 year olds, it does feel as though they’re backing themselves back into exactly the same corner that Load was designed to break them out of. At their height – ‘Ride The Lightning’, ‘Master Of Puppets’ – Metallica were able to combine brutal power with a sense of melody. In short they wrote great songs and then fucked them up. Too often Death Magnetic sounds like a collection of riffs, solos, drum fills and not a lot else.

Exactly like the last album it’s a record to admire rather than one to love, no disaster certainly and nothing to threaten their status. Yet neither will it enhance it a whole lot. It’s good, it’s fine but that’s it.

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  • Too often Death Magnetic sounds like a collection of riffs, solos, drum fills and not a lot else.

    I couldn’t disagree more. St. Anger too often sounded like a song with a bunch of riffs and tempo changes tacked on to make it sound progressive; Death Magnetic is probably closer to the Black Album in terms of sound (i.e. a bit neutered), but the riffs actually sound like they lead into one another now.

    3.5/5

  • Comparing Death Magnetic and St. Anger is like comparing fruit and faeces; and the faeces have been smushed up into a big pile by lots of boots. The band benefit so much from Rick Rubin’s production and it’s really audible – no more overly sluggish effects, or drums that sound like a sack of screwdrivers being thrown under a Luas.

    The album is Metallica getting back to their very best, and as a long time dis-mogul of this band, I have no issue in saying it’s ambitious, energetic, fresh and instantly likable. Yes, it’s not a huge departure from their early sound, but considering the last decade of output, I would argue that that departure was never a good idea in the first place.

  • “Yet still we flock back to Metallica, like we do to Oasis”

    !

  • dan johnson

    yeah that’s a stupid comparison. This album is their fourth best in my opinion, after their 80’s albums. It’s just a great Metallica record.

    St Anger wasn’t a good record. And this is a great record. It seems like the person who wrote this review decided what they were going to write before they even listened to the album.

    Death Magnetic gets better and better everytime I hear it.

  • Death Magnetic is simply brilliant, much better than we could reasonably have hoped for. Stuffed with classic Metallica but still fresh sounding.

  • Mal

    ‘..but one that throws them up against other extreme young bucks such as Slipknot…’
    Err… Slipknot are all in their mid to late 30’s (oldest is 39!). Mid 40’s is hardly old. If a new band put out an album like DM (or even St Anger), the press would be raving about how incredible it was. It’s simply become the fashion for reviewers to slag off Metallica; they could put out a masterpiece and it’d still be ripped to shreds. Death Magnetic is an amazing record from an incredible band. No ther metal band compares.