Ok, let’s hear your opinions on Metallica’s latest offering ‘Death Magnetic’.
Personally, I think it's ok, it has moments of brilliance that evoke flashes from the first four albums but it lacks the consistency of brilliance they had back in their hay day.
It's the best album since 'And Justice For All' but it is still not as good as anything prior to the Black album. If you hear people complaining about a shoddy mix and master that is total BS. They are the ones who downloaded the free pre-release tracks from the Metallica website which all had bad clipping (probably so that you had to by the cd to get a good quality copy - fair enough).
Anyway, the overall production and sound is excellent. I love the drum sound, much better than the pitiful St Anger. As far as the guitar tones go, the rhythm is very tight with a lot less scooped mids (James is now using Diesel amps). The bass fills in the low end nicely and Trujillo’s bass lines are more apparent here than on anything since Master of Puppets. The songs are up to 7 mins long for the most part and the guitar solos are back.
James' vocals are top notch, he incorporates the range he acquired from the Black album through to St Anger but with a much grittier edge ala Justice For All. My only complaint on the vocals is the treatment - they sound excellent but in places the band is blasting away with that big studio feel and vocals sound like they were recorded on a cheap mic in someone’s bedroom – lacking reverb or something.
My only real problem and where I was most underwhelmed is with the lead guitar and lack of signature harmonies and melodies. The focus is pretty much entirely on the riffs. Some of the leads sound like Kirk was handed a guitar and told to play something frantic in one take over a backing he never heard before, without anytime to study the riff, work on interesting phrasing or think about any type of melodic structure. There are one or two nice solos allright (eg 'The Day that Never Comes') and you get a sense that he was trying out 'something new' - I just don't think it works that well. To put it in a nutshell, the solos on this album are at the complete opposite end of the spectrum when compared to the first four albums. They might appeal to the nu-metal crowd with little experience with good guitar work but personally I don’t think they will wash with more seasoned players. When I think Kirk Hammet, I think the solos from Blackened, Four Horsemen, Battery etc etc. Sadly, there is not one solo on this album anywhere near the same level.
The instrumetnal track ia complete missed opportunity in my mind. It has some killer riffs but it is very repetitive and follows a basic verse chorus verse chorus break type format. Almost no melody on top of the riffs except at the end of the track and only a very small bit of lead toward the end too. Basically the track sounds like they just decided to mute the vocals of a long track with a small instrumental break at the end - pretty boring (even though riffs are solid and memorable).
I would say the last four albums could have been done as a side project (maybe something like Numetalrock'ica) - for all of its failings this one is still Metallica though. Definitely worth buying and a great come back from St Anger.
Anyway, this is all just my opinion but overall I would give Death Magnetic 3.5 out of 5.
For a band that have returned to their original thrash metal roots with something as good if not better than their past work, check out the new album by Testament (Alex Skolnick is back on lead).