James Hetfield and friends return with their ninth studio album, the second to feature bassist Rob Trujillo, and the first release since 2003’s St Anger. The previous album’s stripped-down style and bizarre co-operative songwriting didn’t go down well with either critics or fans.
So, what will Metallica’s notoriously critical fans think of their latest effort? First of all, they appear to have returned to their thrash-metal roots as the album is covered in high-speed picking, double-kick drumming and shouty vocals. The first track, “That Was Just Your Life”, opens with a heartbeat and builds up with a military drum beat and eerie “Enter Sandman”-style guitar before launching straight into some old-school thrashing. Lovely.
However, the lads haven’t just made a whole album in this vein . The lead single, “The Day That Never Comes”, starts off with melodic clean guitar before the lead joins in with its own distorted melody, reminiscent of the classic “Fade To Black”. Unfortunately, the sub-par guitar solo lets this track down as it sounds like far too many of the older solos.
The album also features a near ten minute long instrumental track called “Suicide and Redemption”. This tune sounds like it was written through the medium of random jamming and unfortunately gets a bit boring.
Despite a few flops, all in all, it’s a pretty good album. Grumpy old Metallica fans will particularly enjoy the eighties thrash goodness, but some more melodic and rhythmic tunes give it variety. The only real downsides to Death Magnetic are Hetfield’s voice and Hammett’s solos.
Good old James just doesn’t seem to have the voice for it anymore and the vocals lack anything in the way of tune or range, while Hammet’s over-use of Wah-wah and his age-old hammer-on style could really do with a bit of a change.