Key To Music Grades

A - You will never be whole without it
B - Highly recommended
C - Flawed, but still pretty good
D - It's your money, not mine
F - Why couldn't this have been burned in Fahrenheit 451?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Metallica - Death Magnetic (2008)

Now that I've officially gotten Metallica's three abominations under my belt, let's turn to Death Magnetic, their newest release and definitely best since the Black Album. First, the bad: the album and songs are a bit formulaic; this is partly due to Metallica pillaging their past forays for inspiration, so in a way, they can't be blamed. Or can they? Part of the problem I had when listening was the occasional over-aping of past material. Sure, it may be fine for Metallica to loot Metallica, but when is enough enough? "The Day That Never Comes" is awful, not least for it sounding like "Unforgiven," then "Orion," then "One" -- all in the same song. In fact, why does it sound more like "Unforgiven III" than the actual song on the album, also named "Unforgiven III?" Both are awful and reminiscent more of their Load-era gobbidge than the old stuff they try to imitate. I also think "Suicide & Redemption" is a sludgy, boozy drunken mess; it's a ten minute instrumental, possibly intended in a similar vein as "Call Of Ktulu" or "Orion," but it's a long aimless wankfest. Speaking of wankfest, Kirk Hammett is all over the place. I have a feeling people will love the three solos he plays in almost every song, but most of them are caroused noodling, completely jarring to the music being played, and seemingly intentionally inserted for the sake of being able to be inserted -- that and some of them you can hear coming before they actually come. I have this cassette tape of me playing the guitar as an ambitious 13-year old musical prodigy (har har har!); on it, you can hear me shredding a million arpeggiated notes in a millisecond -- and it's complete crap. Thanks, Kirk. I now feel like I could've recorded a metal album and been like you.

That said, the good: some of the solos actually work quite well (the bad ones are just indelibly bad), as do the plenitude of riffs. James Hetfield used to eat riffs for breakfast; he returns to do just that here. In some instances, riffs change as quickly as they can be digested and the intent for most of the album seemed to be: faster faster faster. For that, I tip my hat to "That Was Just Your Life," "All Nightmare Long" and "My Apocalypse" (the requisite "Damage Inc. or "Metal Militia" or "Dyer's Eve" of the album). "End Of The Line" and "Broken, Beat And Scarred" are also pretty good. Hmm, what else? Robert Trujillo is pretty non-existent; a touch of bass here and there, but it's mostly the Hetfield show. It's a less-than-average album, for sure, but in light of recent history -- say the last however many dismal years -- it's a welcome comeback, even if I expect nothing better from them ever again, since it's painfully obvious they just don't have it anymore and if they weren't appropriating from themselves, they probably would've fared worse. The intent seems genuine and earnest, but the fact is, these guys aren't angry anymore, even if they tried to master the puppets again. C-


Jeff said...

One thing that you didn't mention that I thought was a problem with this album was how it was mixed. The drums were way too high, I felt that was especially true on "My Apocalypse". I also thought the bass was practically non-existent. I want to review this album, but I'm just not feeling any motivation to...

The Mad Hatter said...

I actually thought the drums were on spot -- nothing special, but there to keep the beat. Then again, for the songs I dislike, I dislike everything, so they are probably too high. It's hard to notice much when Hetfield sings. Otherwise, I've listened to it now probably half a dozen times and the first song and "All Nightmare Long" seem to be the strong takeaways.

Starrlight said...

I refuse, fucking REFUSE, to put any more cash in Lar's wallet. The little fucktard ruined Napster and then turns around this time and WANTS this album leaked.

After that abomination of a Dr. Phil show Some Kind Of Monster aka the Midolicca Sessions I just wanted to hit Lars with a large heavy object. Nothing more off putting than a formerly fierce metal band going on and on like they have sand in the pussy. Ugh.

Starrlight said...

And I should mention, I LOVE their music. Well not that last St Anger crap :P

Jeff said...

The more I listen to this album the more I wish it was shorter. If they were to cut out a few songs here and there it would be a much stronger album. I love long songs but I don't love long albums...

The RIpple Effect said...

Pretty spot on, in my opinion. The thing I noticed was that Lars and Kirk seem to be overplaying their parts. As you mentioned, the solos are not all that disimilar to a room full of kindergarteners screaming for no freaking reason. Lars throws fills in places just to show he can, and everytime to the detriment of the overall feel of the song.

Other than that . . . I don't know. Pretty lifeless and the albums feels forced.


The Mad Hatter said...


I refused as well, which is why having friends is a good thing. No more moolah for Metallica from me.


The second half, even if listened to first, is still pretty bad. That said, halfway through and I'm tired.

Pope JTE,

Yep. The forced is why it makes it so damned hard to listen to. There's some good, but more bad than good; and yes, Kirk is criminally guilty of massive overplaying of his solos. It's annoying.