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Metallica’s Return Hampered By Unoriginality

Observer Scene | Thursday, October 2, 2008

In their best-reviewed album of recent memory, Metallica returns to its metal roots with powerful riffs and the anger and angst that can only come with greater age and longer hair.

The songs may last eight minutes but it’s hard to notice, due to well planned out song intensities and great vocal performances by James Hetfield. The fast pumping of the bass, catchy guitar riffs, smooth beat supplemented by the drums and mellow chords blend effortlessly. The band both energizes and urges the listener to headbang and mosh for the duration of tracks. Even fans of other genres would most likely find something to enjoy in “Death Magnetic” if only the albums cover art, a coffin surrounded by a magnetic field.

The album’s first released single, “The Day That Never Comes,” is a relatively calm reflective piece that builds into a very generic heavy metal rock piece. This is where the major problem with “Death Magnetic” arises as lack of original content becomes obvious. The songs are new, but they could be associated with almost any heavy metal band that considers Metallica as one of their influences.

But as far as sheer entertainment, “All Nightmare Long” and “Cyanide” are so heavy metal intensive that they are sure to be concert favorites. Easily considered “speed metal” the pieces are impressive feats of musicianship.

A slower more vocal oriented work, “The Unforgiven III,” also manages to feature the piano if only for a few moments. “Suicide and Redemption” is an instrumental track and demonstrates how heavy metal can function without lyrics, especially when the lead singer’s voice is a growl. In “Death Magnetic” there is no shortage of catchy riffs, heavy metal rock or impressive sound, but originality is lacking.

“Death Magnetic” is a return to greater quality music, but this album is a rehash of sorts and lacks originality. With songs such as “All Nightmare Long” and “Cyanide” the listener can enjoy speed metal at its best, while “A Day That Never Comes” gives a greater sampling of the bands creative range.

This album is no doubt to be found on Rock Band VII and Guitar Hero X within a few years, as soon as the rights are given and as soon as the band becomes a little more lenient with the leaking of their music. After all “Death Magnetic” was leaked 10 days early and the only response by Lars Ulrich was to USA Today, “By 2008 standards, that’s a victory. If you’d told me six months ago that our record wouldn’t leak until 10 days out, I would have signed up for that.”

Ultimately “Death Magnetic” is a step in the right direction, and Metallica is once again reminiscent of their heavy metal prime. Fans will no doubt be grateful. 

Contact Symon Ryzner at sryzner@nd.edu.