Following the notoriously widely received as "bad' St. Anger, Metallica returned after 5 years with Death Magnetic. And they had a lot of pressure on them. Not only to prove that they still got it, but also with the production of Rick Rubin and such a long hiatus between albums, this album was important. They had to deliver at least something decent.
And they kind of did? Although still with some really glaring issues.
After the Nu Alternative Metal attempt of St. Anger with a kitchen pan snare and buried mixing, Death Magnetic changes most of those, returning to their Thrash Heavy Metal roots, reminiscing of projects like Self-Titled and Ride The Lightning. One thing that hasn't been changed though is the underwhelming production and mixing. Now, on some tracks, it's not that bad, I think they might've remastered it since release or something, but the original version of this is mastered and mixed so badly. It's so muddy, especially the vocals. But honestly, in the version that's right now on Spotify, it doesn't bother or distract from the music THAT much, and it is listenable, so I won't be bitching about that much here. Although having Rick Rubin as the producer and having the sound quality sound like that is wild. But everyone makes mistakes, even the top-level producers. But this happens with Metallica records all too often, St. Anger, And Justice For All, Death Magnetic... It is what it is I guess, it honestly doesn't bother me THAT much here, but better mixing could definitely enhance it.
Now, I do admire St. Anger for trying something new, for trying to express raw anger. But Death Magnetic is just rather very basic and generic for Metallica. This album kinda started their streak of not taking any risks, although Lulu was a risk... I guess. So I would want some more experimentation and risks taken here, because a lot of these songs, while good, have really no stand-out quality about them (Cyanide, The Judas Kiss, My Apocalypse, Suicide & Redemption...).
Now, with that said, the riffs on here go super hard for the most part, the guitar work is great. And I also really like James' vocal patterns on here, a lot of them have this badass energy to them, that is just infectious. Especially on tracks like Broken Beat & Scarred and That Was Just Your Life. Love the cadence and melodies he pulls off here for the most part. This album also doesn't have many if any ballads, and I honestly don't mind that, despite ballads always being my favorite, this album really shines in that.
Beat, Broken & Scarred is amazing, one of my favorites if not my favorite modern Metallica song (after 2000s era). The End Of the Line has some really great fun riffs, All Nightmare Long packs a lot of fun punch and energy to it. The Day That Never Comes is a melodic banger, with some great vocal and riff melodies, sounds like an anthem and a proper single, and The Unforgiven III is a good third part of the legendary Unforgiven song, with a very memorable bassline. That Was Just Your Life is also a really good intro, although it had to grow on me.
So yeah the actual quality of the music has definitely improved and the album does have some really great stand-out tracks. And while the solos aren't quite there or have any passion, the production/mixing is weak and it does feel generic and standard, it's still a solid return and one of their better modern projects. Most of these tracks are good, there's not much of bad, weak, or mid on here. What saves this album from those glaring flaws are the pumping riffs and energetic vocals. The tracks don't feel boring.
So yeah, I do like this quite a bit, and while it has a lot of imperfections, it still manages to come together to create one of their most consistent and enjoyable album experiences, especially in the modern Metallica era.
FAV TRACKS: Broken, Beat & Scarred, The Day That Never Comes, The Unforgiven III, The End of the Line, All Nightmare Long, That Was Just Your Life
LEAST FAV TRACKS: My Apocalypse
|1||That Was Just Your Life / 81|
|2||The End of the Line / 95|
|3||Broken, Beat & Scarred / 98|
|4||The Day That Never Comes / 96|
|5||All Nightmare Long / 84|
|6||Cyanide / 73|
|7||The Unforgiven III / 81|
|8||The Judas Kiss / 72|
|9||Suicide & Redemption / 71|
|10||My Apocalypse / 59|