12 September 2008
by Tony Hampton
The long wait; the anxious feeling; the knot in the stomach. Jelly legs. And that was just the bus ride to the record label offices where I was to be treated to a listen of the brand new Metallica album.
Never mind the years that have passed between the release of the critically mauled St Anger and the ongoing will-they-wont-they split up saga.
The mere thought there will be no more Metallica is too much to bear, of course, but if they made a record now which failed to deliver, the collective sigh would be more like a worldwide tsunami.
It is, then, my absolute stone-cold, copper-bottomed pleasure to say: This record is fantastic. The band’s newfound approach, seemingly balancing less conflict and more family time, less rebellion and more enjoying their status and embracing their legacy, has paid off in spades.
Rick Rubin’s relaxed approach seems to have done the job. Not that this album is anyway sloppy or lacking in direction. It’s crushingly heavy and its ten tracks all clock in at a skull-destroying 8 minutes plus.
There are moments such as on ‘All Nightmare Long’ that conjure up the feeling and atmosphere of the Garage days, with Hetfield’s raw delivery being especially eye opening.
‘My Apocalypse’ is like a long lost track that should have been on Master Of Puppets but has been left in a cellar maturing. Sounding, as it does, like Damage Inc but more refined.
Watch the album trailer for Death Magnetic
The band, are on sublime form. Hetfield sounds revived and alive again, no flab, not carrying any excess baggage, just pure 100% focus. Ulrich turns in a great show. Trujillio slots in perfectly and Hammett – clearly glad the riffs are back – goes off like a volcano at every given opportunity. He cannot be contained.
The interplay between Hetfield and Hammett on The Day That Never Comes (with its Maiden-esque running riffs) and ‘Cyanide’ is nothing short of awe inspiring.
At the end, visibly shaken, I almost had to be helped up. People will try and pull this record apart, they will dissect the life out of it, twist it, turn it, and maybe a few will even be bitter enough to dismiss it.
The fact remains though that through all the bullshit and all the struggle, Metallica have made their best record for years – and a record that slots right into that “classic” period everyone is so rightly protective of. Heavy as hell. Metallica own us all.
Death Magnetic by Metallica will be released on Vertigo Records on Friday 12 September 2008