Metallica – Back on Track!
Poor old Metallica. They’re damned if they do and damned if they dont.
Generally bands, when they make it big, are faced with two options; either keep churning out the same old sound until the critics hate you and only the die-hard fans are still listening, or get to a point where you decide to start experimenting with the bands sound and dynamic, bewildering critics and alienating die-hard fans. It would seem Metallica took the latter option.
At some point during their self-titled black album, Metallica softened and changed direction from the migrane inducingly great machine-gun music of their previous efforts. Death Magnetic, their new album, sounds like it should’ve come just after ‘…And Justice for All’ and before the black album and their descent away from ‘heavy’ metal.
Don’t get me wrong though. Death Magnetic is a good album.
It has a riff driven heaviness that their fans have been screaming out for for some time, but there are moments where the crazy new Metallica raises its fan repulsing head. The rumour goes that producer Rick Rubin asked the band to write the (theoretical) songs that didn’t make it onto ‘Master of Puppets.’
In one regard, the experiment is a success – there are tracks that eminate Metallica’s 80’s vibe, but on the other hand – its easy to see why they (theoretically) didn’t make it onto ‘Puppets.’
There was a collective groan of expectant disappointment when we all discovered that one of the new tracks was ‘Unforgiven III,’ the sequel to the sequel that probably should never have been made. It is definitely the weak point on ‘Death,’ not beacuse it’s a terrible song, but because it sounds nothing like anything else on the album.
There are times when songs are going gangbusters and you’re thinking ‘fuck yeah – this is Metallica’ and then without warning, the song delves into some sort of Weiland sounding STP rip-off. And other times, the guitar solo is cranking, and then Kirk Hammet hits a pedal and the sound becomes ‘Metallabilly’ – a bastard child of a The Living End cover band trying to thrash out some Metallica solos on a rickenbacker. And while I actually enjoy bands from the ‘-abilly’ persuasion, it kinda doesn’t suit Metallica.
For me, Judas Kiss is definitely a high point, and reason enough to believe that Metallica can be great once again. But as another reviewer has written, Metallica trying to recapture the sound they made in their 20’s is essentially the musical equivelent of a mid-age crisis.
Don’t let that dissuade you though – I highly recommend Death Magnetic, it’s probably the best thing they’ve done since the black album.
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