Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My Two Cents...

Everyone else is chiming in (I’m surprised that McCain and Obama haven’t put out statements), so I might as well do the same. Yeah, I was 14/ 15 years old in ’82 and ’83 when “Kill ‘Em All” hit the streets; yeah, I was the first kid in my high school to have a vinyl copy of the album, which I clutched as if it were some precious heirloom; yeah, the relationship only blossomed with “Ride The Lightning” and “Master Of Puppets”; yeah, I felt the pain of Burton’s untimely death (had he lived, I’m convinced that Metallica would be a very different band today), was mildly let down by “… And Justice For All”, and all my fears of sell-out were realized with “Metallica”, etc, etc, ad nauseum.

Fast forward to ‘08 and I haven’t seriously paid attention to Metallica since ’91 or so. I’m sort of proud to say that I’ve not heard one song off of “St. Anger”, and I intend to keep it that way. However, you couldn’t have avoided hearing through the grapevine about the supposed return to form, an album that will hark back to the ‘80s, an album that should’ve been made after “Justice”, and so on about “Death Magnetic”. I guess deep down, like a lot of us in my age bracket, we all sort of hoped that there was a chance that the last 17 years were some sort of bizarre experiment perpetrated by Ulrich and Hetfield, and the band really never forgot their roots. Yeah, most of you will say “get over it, get a life, asshole” or some such, but that’s the way a lot of old timers feel.

At any rate, like a lot of others, I’m underwhelmed by the album, which mostly comes across as a mediocre, sort of average thrash metal album which just sounds tired (probably, in part, due to a surprisingly bland production courtesy of one that we wouldn’t have suspected it from). Yes, there are some good riffs, one or two pretty good songs, some bursts of speed and so on, but the passion and post-adolescent rage that fueled the band’s first three full-lengths is dead and buried, only to be replaced by the encroachment and complacency of middle age. If there ever was a band now content to rest on their laurels; that is, their back catalog, Metallica is that band.

I’m revealing my inner geek here, but, as I’ve listened to the album over the last couple of days, I can’t help but compare this album to the Star Wars prequels. Thirty and forty somethings, do you recall the sheer excitement you felt as the release of “The Phantom Menace” approached, only to nervously glance at each other with apprehension as you left the theater after seeing that movie? “Death Magnetic” feels the same way. Hetfield and Ulrich have become George Lucas.

I’ll end up continuing to listen to “Death Magnetic” for the next few weeks, and, you may be surprised to hear, I’ve bought a ticket for Metallica’s show at The Forum for December 18th (Cosmo will laugh uproariously, but my feeble excuse is that I want to see The Sword; yeah, I picked a lousy way of doing so). But, whatever excitement I felt is fading (hoping against hope to recapture the feeling of a 14 year old). To me, the experience is the same as buying the prequel trilogy in widescreen, only to watch it once in a great while. I’ll stick to the original trilogy if you know what I mean.



Invisible Oranges said...

You're right, dude. The Sword LOL!

But your points about Death Magnetic right on. Kind of like my review, but in more sensible language. You really should hear St. Anger once (and then never again). It is one of the strangest records ever made. And then maybe you can see where Death Magnetic was coming from.

I'm hearing good things about Metallica live in '08, so I'm curious what your experience will be.

dschalek said...


Your Pitchfork review nails it, as well. I am looking forward to seeing the band live in December, but all sense of magic is gone.

Metal Mark said...

It sounds as if I liked this one more than you did. I wasn't expecting much and they are a shell of their former selves, but it has some moments and hey it is a metal album at least. That's more than they have attempted in some time.

Chris Davison said...

It's really more like a demo tape than an album; half developed ideas pressed into the form of fully fledged songs. Is it beyong risible ? No. Is it worth buying ? Regretably not. Thrash as a sound requires anger, focus and skill. At any one time, Metallica, it seems, can only muster one.


But then, which of the big four can really look back and be proud of their last two albums ?

dschalek said...


The American Big Four no longer figure in thrash metal in any meaningful manner anymore; that is, in terms of pushing the genre forward in my opinion. To me, the early bands that are still putting out good material are Exodus, Destruction, Testament, and, to a lesser extent, Sodom and Kreator.

DPTH International said...

I have always enjoyed "...And Justice For All" so I include that with my appreciation of Metallica's early work. Ever since "Metallica" came out I could see the beginning of the end of Metallica and have not cared for anything they have produced since. I am curious about "Death Magnet" but will wait to see if I can get it cheap and used.

dschalek said...

Yeah, probably would be wise to get it used. Many a disgruntled 40 something metalhead will be unloading it, I'm sure.