Metallica > Death Magnetic

ok, downloaded the new Metallica disc tonight. Am listening to it now as I clean the garage and take a break from hurricane coverage. Quick thoughts > it is exactly how I expected it to be.

That is a loaded statement, and comes with both good and bad. The good? It is produced by Rick Rubin, which is already really good news. In addition, it is already a million times better than St Anger. Of course, so is the dump I took an hour ago. There is a dash more melody, and somewhat more attempt of a chorus. Also, the senseless and utterly melody-less solos of Hammet are back. Listen, I love Kirk. However, often his solos sound more like a dare of how many notes can a play than actual communication of thought or heart.

In the last album, though, there was virtually no Kirk Hammett. He's back, but it's just pointless solo. The album is a sonic assault, but kind of a pointless one. Loud and fast strictly for the sake of being loud and fast (reference the last Pumpkins album, Zeitgeist) for that. All speed and not much soul. The boys are older, as are we. I grew up with them. Shit, in jr High I was raised by them.

To me, the make the same mistake of working super hard to show they haven't gone soft. Yeah, it's power chords deluxe. That's about it. Since I put the disc in, I have turned it down much more than turned it up. Every song clocks in well over seven minutes. There is a reason rock radio only plays three minute songs. We don't have all day. I don't have all day. Ok, I do.

Normally, the way I review records is to set aside a few hours to listen to it over and over again. This is why my garage has become my listening studio (where I am now). I am getting all the shit out of the garage floor from summer projects to make room for the wife's car to be in here for the winter. I can barely finish this CD, though, Every single song sounds identical. There was a brief bout of forced pathos for 'unforgiven 3', but frankly damages the franchise in my eyes. This from a guy who saw the Dead perform the Unforgiven live. Yup, and Warren Haynes nailed it. Better read that again. The Dead (known formerly as the Grateful Dead before Jerry died) actually covered Metallica. Wrap your head around that one.

Don't worry, Hetfield hasn't gone soft on lyrics with his new sobriety. Witness:

Crushing metal, Ripping Skin
Tossing body mannequin
Spilling Blood, Bleeding Gas

Mangle flesh, Snapping spine
Dripping bloody valentine
Shattered face, spitting glass
I ain't saying I want to hear ballads. That isn't what put them on the map. However, let's look at some of their great mellow tunes: Sanitarium, Hero of the Day, One, Fade to Black. You get the idea. They can write pathos. It's easy to play, too. Everything they do is in E. It's super simple. Lars once explained in a bitter Playboy interview that James can only sing in 'E'. Even though I sing and play guitar, I have no idea what that means. But, I can pick up most Metallica songs in a few minutes by simply placing my hands in an open E (for ballads) or a barred E chord at the 7th fret for the rocking tunes.

Also, they have a new bassist, Robert Trujillo. I can't hear a thing he is doing. I was raised on Cliff Burton, who was serious about his melody. I was confident he would bring fresh soulful goodness to the band's somewhat tired sound. Yet, I find myself missing the soulless pick work of Jason Newstead. How is that possible? It would be like you voting McCain, racist, and missing the days of Bush.

So, where is the heart? I get more joy and satisfaction hearing Beatallica. Have you heard them? You need to, immediately. Go here. If you want to hear Metallica's best stuff in the last ten years, your best bet is them.

Though I have tickets to see the band in Nov (at $120 after fees, thank you very little), I can't see that I will ever listen to this disc again.


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