"T-Rex doesnt want to be fed, he wants to hunt"
- Dr. Alan Grant, from Jurassic Park
When a band of metal dinosaurs barges into the room, you tend to notice. "Death Magnetic" is the new album from the king of dinosaur bands, Metallica. Now, if you've seen Jurassic Park (and if you havent then you shall be first against the wall), you will know that dinosaurs produce quite a bit of shit. In Metallica's case, this was 2003's "St.Anger", a turgid pile of crap that has only festered over time. If anything was to be salvaged from the burning carcass of that album, it was the culling of the band's inflated egos.
So, what we have in "Death Magnetic" is the sound of a band reborn?
This is the Metallica we all know. Its still the gnarled, raw metal band we have come to love. The songs are a throwback to their heydey, full of lightening solos, pounding drums and chunky riffage. James Hetfield does his signature growl /elongation of words and all in all its a standard Metallica album. Its a whole different stratosphere from "St.Anger".
However, by deciding to return to traditional Metallica standards, the band have exposed the problems that have always dogged their music. At times the songs are focusless and descend into over-long bouts of soloing and bars that are carried out more times than necessary (apparently some cheeky fan has edited the album into a shorter, tighter package and released it online).
Most of the songs coast over the 8 minute mark leading to an overall feeling that producer Rick Rubin should have edited the hell out of the band's babies.
But then would it be the Metallica we wanted? Maybe part of the reason we love their particular brand of metal is because of its faults. Maybe we really want solos that last for a good 5 minutes. Undoubtedly the fans will be pleased. I can appreciate that sometimes we cant be hard on a band that decides to revert to the good ol' days. Hetfield & Co. know what works. It took a shit album and a lot of therapy to get this far but now we have the band we remember. Jurassic Park made us remember how cool dinosaurs were. "Death Magnetic" is a reminder of how good Metallica are. But like the dinosaurs, the evolution stops here.
For the iPod playlist: "The Day That Never Comes", "The Unforgiven III", "Cyanide".
Verdict: *** (3/5) (Its not their best but its fun at least)