Metallica returns to form with Death Magnetic

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The Rick Rubin-produced Death Magnetic revisits the mesmerizing speed, shred and staccato vocals template that defined thrash twenty-five years ago. The start-stop dynamic results in the aural equivalent of whiplash. There are no nods to prog via tricky time signatures or keyboard flourishes. The only time when the band slightly loses its way is on the post-grunge-leaning “The Unforgiven III.” Despite a string of lackluster albums, inner turmoil and piss poor fan treatment in the years following 1991’s Metallica, Death Magnetic finds the band bringing down the sonic sledgehammer with all the ferocity that made them rock ’n’ roll anti-heroes during Reagan’s reign. Could the sins of Hetfield, guitarist Kirk Hammett and even drummer Lars Ulrich be forgiven?


Metallica has comforted legions of disenfranchised youths by exploring timeless themes of mortality, anxiety, fear and desire. With vintage Metallica, the listener rides shotgun with the devil, laughs along with the horned bastard as he deals death and destruction. Ride the lightning, Metallica said, acknowledge the worst in this existence and the pain of being a man will lessen. The band endured undue criticism for their melodic, acoustic-tinged, multi-million-selling ’91 album. But the string of shit releases that followed, compounded by the band’s (Ulrich’s) attack on file-sharing sites like Napster, made them a hard act to love. Death Magnetic, though, is first-rate penance. 4 out of 5 stars.


"All Nightmare Long"


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People who suffer from acute anxiety are often stalked in dreamland by a faceless marauder. The victim awakens breathing hard, clutching sheets wet with their own cold perspiration. Metallica brilliantly chronicles these perils in “All Nightmare Long,” the 8-minute linchpin of the metal gods’ spectacular comeback album Death Magentic.

It's similar in theme to “Enter Sandman,” from the band’s 1991 self-titled commercial breakthrough; however, “All Nightmare Long’s” sonic thrust recalls the heavy artillery majesty found on the band’s 1980s thrash classics Kill ‘Em All, Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets. On “All Nightmare Long,” a slow, foreboding intro hastily gives way to a bunker-busting assault of thwack, thwack, thwack. Then James Hetfield’s beastly growl surfaces, sounding as authoritative and dangerous as it did decades ago. Unlike the majority of today’s metal frontmen, Hetfield makes his declarations decipherable, with the pulverizing rhythm pausing as he drills home a decisive chorus like: “Feel us breathe upon your face/Feel us shift, every move we trace/Hunt you down without mercy/ Hunt you down all nightmare long.”

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