After nearly 5 years, Metallica finally return with a new studio recording. And this time, even more so than with St. Anger, it is more than worth the wait. If the resurrection of their original lightning-bolt logo isn't enough to convince you that this band has finally begun writing music that lives up to their potential and their legacy, you need only listen to any random song from this album.
So many elements of Metallica's classic style from the 80's are brought back into the fold with this album. Hammett's guitar solos are back, Ulrich's drums no longer ring like empty tin cans, Hetfield & Hammett display an endless tag-team of riffs and leads through almost every song. Clean guitar melodies give way to thrash riffs and vice versa over and over again. They even follow an old formula for the album's song sequence, with a long instrumental near the end, and one of the fastest songs to close the album (like they did in the days of "Ride the Lightning" & "Master of Puppets"). All-in-all, I just can't get enough of this album!
All of these old habits that are brought back into play are making it easy for any reviewer to say that Metallica have "returned to their roots", or "finally recorded an album that could have followed..." (insert album of choice: Master of Puppets, ...And Justice for All, or "Black" album). However, I feel like putting Death Magnetic into a present-tense context. To me it sounds more like they have still taken a step forward with their music, they just put on some old shoes to do it. Listening closely to the tone of the instruments, lyrics, and song structure, I can hear that it really is a follow-up to '03's St. Anger. Don't be discouraged though, every aspect of their music has improved drastically since St. Anger. There is no excuse for not listening to this album.
True to the album's name, the concept of death is the underlying theme in most of the songs. With Hetfield's masterful lyric writing at its peak, the messages in each song are well developed. This album reminds us that life is short and we truly should seize the day while we can.
Now comes the hard part: recommending songs from this masterpiece of an album. Here goes nothing...
-That Was Just Your Life (This one kicks off the album with a heartbeat and clean guitar melody that instantly brings you back to the likes of the "Black" album, get ready for a great ride!)
-The End of The Line (Really, one of the best songs on this album -in my humble opinion)
-Broken, Beat & Scarred (this one may be my personal favorite, if its not "End of the Line")
-The Day That Never Comes
-Cyanide (parts of this song remind me of "Seek & Destroy", from their first album)
-The Unforgiven III (if you're skeptical of song-sequels, this one should lay to rest any doubts that sequels can live up to originals)