With a new album on the horizon and a couple of fantastic singles, the legendary Metallica sound like their heading back to form comparable to their glory days over twenty years ago. With the new single "Moth To Flame" it sounds as if the bands inspiration is without reflection to previous standards, allowing them to move forward in a new genuine direction. And that's what we thought of Death Magnetic eight years ago. I binged this record and caught Metallica playing live several times in the year but then eight years strolled by and I realized Ive never listened to it again. The reason why? Well having dug this one out again its become quiet apparent where its short comings are.
Two big factors stand in the way of this albums potential, one is production and the other is song structure. I remember at the time there was a lot of emphasis on long songs during the promo and each song is six or seven minutes with one ten minute song amounting to well over an hour long record. The problem is a lot of this length is needless repetition. Not all riffs are fantastic but there are definitely belters in here but they come between the drawn out song structures that make a meal out of appetizers. There is simply not as much core material for the length and so the record feels tiresome despite being genuinely energetic and interesting in the beginning stages.
Its second short coming highlights a problem that's cursed a couple of other records, ...And Justice For All's toy drum kit and baseless production has haunted what was a brilliant record and in someway comparable to this one with some needlessly lengthy songs and complex song structures. The other is St.Anger and its clanger snare and dense thudding base kicks. They went for a garage sound and certainly got that. So Death Magnetic joins them with its horribly over loud and over compressed production. Anyone could see this by taking a glance at the EQ with constant peaking across wide ranges. It sucks the craft and texture into a blunt aggression as the guitar texture competes with the crashing snare and drum kit in general. The fast guitar picking sounds fluttery and most instruments suffer from this poor production choice, tiring the listener with a constantly difficult distortions from peaking.
Underneath it there's some great music and memorable riffs in the albums opening songs, however as it stretches on either the music isn't as good or the tolerance for its aesthetic starts to hamper the listening experience. "Cyanide" its a rather weak song and that's where Death Magnetic never picks up steam again. "Unforgiven III" is a pretty lousy third part that bares little resemblance to the original. Its got its strengths but overall id say the record was a disappointment however it has its moments which were pretty exciting back when it was released.
Favorite Songs: That Was Just Your Life, The End Of The Line, The Day That Never Comes, All Nightmare Long