There is always that one band that you get excited about whenever they are about to release a new CD. For some it's the band that got them into music and for others it's the band that brings back memories from days or years ago. Metallica is that band for me and I cannot say that this review is unbiased... because it is.
With that in mind here is what I (Randy, host of The Metal Show) think of Death Magnetic after letting it sink in over many listens.
The album opens with the sound of a heartbeat on the first track That Was Just Your Life. Perhaps it's Metallica's way of pumping the listener up for the album. Then come the guitars sounding like something right off And Justice For All.... Then a heavy riff and Jame's Hetfield's vocals come in, sounding more pissed off than he has in a long time.
I don't think any Metallica fan could resist a smile after hearing this song. It reminded me of why I fell in love with metal music and the band in the first place.
The second song is entitled The End of the Line. It opens strong and is followed by one of the grooviest monster riffs Metallica has ever written in their career.
By this point I realized that the bass really got turned down low in the mix again, which is a shame because Rob Trujillo is an amazing bass player (check out his work with Suicidal Tendencies if you disagree).
If you listen closely you can hear that Trujillo is actually throwing in some heavy and intricate bass lines. Hopefully his presence on the songs will be realized in the live setting.
The End of The Line also has a mellow breakdown reminiscent of Load era Metallica. It is good to see the band didn't abandon that last 10 years of work completely.
Next up is Broken, Beat and Scarred which has yet another solid groove and some of my favorite lyrics on the album. Catchy as hell too.
Kirk and James work together on this album to come up with awesome riffs and harmonies. You can really see the Thin Lizzy influence in the harmonies on this album.
The Day That Never Comes, the first single, is next on the CD and I think after listening to it more, it is a good song. Just not exactly what I hoped the first single would be.
All Nightmare Long kicks things back into gear with an aggressive riff that puts all the Metallica naysayers to shame.
Cyanide and the Unforgiven III have been called out as the weakest links on the CD. They definitely aren't bad songs, but yeah they do feel a bit disjointed and lacking somehow.
Cyanide is structured sort of like the Frankenstein monster. It has lots of good sections, but that doesn't mean they flow together well in the finished product.
Unforgiven III is very different from the first two. I actually enjoyed it my first listen through, but it definitely could have been shortened from its 8 minute running time.
The Judas Kiss is another solid song, but not the best on the CD in my opinion like so many other reviewers seem to say (I reserve that title for the first 3 songs on the album).
Suicide & Redemption is the first instrumental that Metallica has written since To Live is To Die. It doesn't send chills down your spine like previous instrumentals and goes on for too long, but it is still cool and it seems like the guys really had fun with this one.
The album closes with My Apocalypse, which is the shortest song on the album, clocking in at a little over 5 minutes. It is another good song, maybe not great, but I thought of Kill em' All while listening to it. Which is a good thing!
Death Magnetic is by no means a perfect CD. Several of the songs go on for longer than they should, but the standout solos by Kirk Hammet help to atone for this and add some much needed variety from the solo-less St. Anger.
The drums are too loud in the mix. The bass too low. And some of the guitars and vocals can sound a bit over-distorted at times.
However, I still think the production is much better than St. Anger and even And Justice For All....
Lets hope for the next CD Metallica will get a new producer. I think it would be awesome to hear someone like Roy Z produce the album. Although who knows when a new CD will come out...
Overall Death Magnetic falls right around the likes of Kill em' All, And Justice for All... and The Black Album for me (Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets being the best in my opinion).
Metallica did more than what most people probably thought they would. I can't wait to hear the new songs live.
Go buy this CD if you haven't yet. It's more inspired than the new Testament, Megadeth or Slayer albums (and those aren't bad albums!).
Final Score: 8 out of 10