If someone was to tell me a few years ago that Kirk Hammett would once again pick up his guitar and be the legendary guitar hero he once was, I would chuckle in disbelief. If someone was to tell me that the new Metallica album would sound like this, com’on! Are you for real?
Blasting Death Magnetic on our way home, Cynthia and I were screaming out loud punching fists in the air. At first listen! I only managed to get into St. Anger after 250 times of album repeat (no kidding, I used to have a count in my computer and it is hard to decipher the seemingly random patterns). Gosh! Are we living in an alternative reality or what?! Kirk Hammett has finally come to his senses and hammers out some real cool and original guitar solo tracks. Check out the signature snare smashing double bass by Lars Ulrich. Not just double-time, or quadruple-time, but octuple-time double bass. You wouldn’t have thought someone in the mid-forties, hospitalized in 2004 having to miss the tour, still able to pull this sort of act off. The new bassist Robert Trujillo who was recruited into the band during the St. Anger era (that scene of one million cash proposal on the table together with an equal share as seen in the video Some Kind of Monster is hard to forget) plays brilliantly in this album. Certainly my favorite Metallica bassist of all time. Hopefully, Metallica Inc. is going to keep this one. James Hetfield’s voice is in top form, sounds confident (consider how far gone he was with the alcoholism and rehabilitation), and his lyrics reflect just that, “You rise, you fall, you’re down then you rise again. What don’t kill ya make ya more strong”. Isn’t it more positive than “Shoot me again I ain’t dead yet”? Not to forget to mention the mad guitar riffing of the opening track, these two guitarists have rescaled the difficulty spectrum of thrash metal up a few notches.
Approach any Metallica fan and we all have our favorite eras. Rarely you find someone (like me) who loves everything from Kill ‘Em All (1983) to St. Anger (2003) including that S&M live with the San Francisco Symphony. Purists would love the pre-Black Album era of songs like “The Four Horseman”, “Ride The Lightning”, “Master of Puppets”, and “… And Justice For All”. These are great tracks, no doubt. I still remember learning the riffs of songs from that era. Then came the 15 times platinum selling Black Album that most fans would acknowledge its significance. Some say the Load and ReLoad eras are sell-out, way too commercialized to the hardcore fans’ liking. Well, I happen to enjoy being indulged in those amid slower, but somewhat memorable melodies. And as a defender of St. Anger, I find myself having to explain to people my philosophy of why St. Anger – despite lacking in Kirk’s solo – was ahead of its time. If you listen to Death Magnetic closely, you may be able to recognize the bits and pieces originating from the chaos within St. Anger (read: If there was no St. Anger, there wouldn’t have been a Death Magnetic).
What the new producer Rick Rubin has done is amazing. There is an overarching structure yet there are elements of jamming within; there are familiar melodic phrases yet the singing of “Sad But True” and the earlier work keeps ringing in my head; there are modern guitar effects yet the pure metal essence of the “Master of Puppets” lives inside Death Magnetic; there is even an instrumental track “Suicide & Redemption” that rivals “Orion”. Death Magnetic is a consolidation of all that Metallica has offered in the last 25 years. It is a unifying platform for all the Metallica fans out there to rejoice.
Related Site: Metallica TV on YouTube