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1. That Was Just Your Life
2. The End Of The Line
3. Broken, Beat & Scarred
4. The Day That Never Comes
5. All Nightmare Long
7. The Unforgiven III
8. The Judas Kiss
9. Suicide & Redemption
10. My Apocalypse
Right from the gate, it's easy to see that Metallica are back! From the re-incorporation of the classic Metallica logo to the classic Metallica sound that shows up in the album's opening track, "This Was Just Your Life", it's as much of a return to form as one could expect from a band 20 years after the release of their last full on thrash album. And while this may not be what some fans of the first four albums were expecting, you have to take into consideration that (a) this is not 1990 anymore, and (b) the guys in the band aren't in their twenties anymore, nor are they in the same headspace that they were back when they wrote those classic albums.
Take all the bands from that era and compare them to one another. Sure you've got Slayer, one of the "big four" who actually still puts out "thrash" albums...but seriously, when was the last time you heard anything NEW and improved from that camp? They've been putting out the same album since 1983, and that's really not that hard to do.
After basically following Metallica's every move for the better part of the 80's and 90's, Megadeth finally found their own place in the Metal heirarchy after Dave Mustaine found god and almost lost his ability to play guitar, folded the band, then brought it back as the sole original member. MegaDave has finally found his own musical identity, straddling the line between the old thrash sound Megadeth once dominated, and a newer more refined sound consistent with the band's aging members.
Anthrax has all but fallen off the face of the planet. Their best years with John Bush are far behind them now, and after a succesful reunion tour with Joey Belladonna, that was followed by yet another fall out...the band has regrouped without Joey Or John. And after speculation that Slipknot vocalist Corey Taylor would be fronting the band, they've brought in an entirely fresh new face to try and bring the band into the modern metal era. 2009 will finally bring us new Anthrax material...whether or not it's been worth the wait remains to be seen.
And of course, the Fifth band that should be a part of the group but never is because they came along a little later....is Testament. They are the only band that has managed to maintain a modern edge while retaining their classic thrash attack. 'The Formation of Damnation' is the most amazing release from any of the classic thrash bands, incorporating the classic Bay Area thrash sound with a modern aggressive edge that none of their old school peers could ever hope to match.
But of course, this review is regarding Metallica's return to form, and 'Death Magnetic' is without question, the absolute best album that fans of Metallica's golden era could possibly hope for. 20 years after the release of '...And Justice For All' and many many disappointing releases later, who would have expected an album like this? Songs that all surpass the 6 minute mark (sans one song), Kirk Hammett is actually playing leads again, and the band has included the obligatory 'instrumental' song on this release. 'Death Magnetic' has all the elements that made up those first four albums, excepting the fact that maybe the band can't play quite as fast as they could back then. But in the grand scheme of things, that's hardly a factor to even consider.
If anyone was expecting Metallica to try and compete with the young bands of today, by adding extreme technicality, grinding blast beats and death metal vocals to the mix, then you had the wrong idea to begin with and chances are this release isn't going to do a damn thing for you. For the rest of you that have been waiting beyond patiently for a proper follow up to '...And Justice For All'...your wait is finally over.
'Death Magnetic' will never compare to 'The Formation Of Damnation' in terms of mixing classic thrash with modern aggressive metal, but it is by far the best (not to mention the most thrash oriented) album to come from the Metallica camp in 17 years. How much Rick Rubin had to do with the band's return to form is up for debate, but whatever the case might be, it's certain that Metallica fans the world over are overjoyed at the fact that pop producer Bob Rock was NOT involved in this one. Or at least, it's certain that this Metallica fan is glad.
So what's the bottom line...? Well, chances are everyone interested in hearing the new album has done so by now...but on the off chance that there are a few hold outs that haven't picked up 'Death Magnetic' yet, because you're waiting for some kind of affirmation that it's not gonna be another 'Load' or 'Reload', consider this your green light to go out and grab a copy...just be prepared to 'Ride The Lightning' once again!