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Metallica "Death Magnetic" Album Review: A Look at Metallica's Death Magnetic Album Ten Years Later

Updated on January 30, 2019
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Ara is a Journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is looking to always explore his writing opportunities.

The album cover for Death Magnetic


With the album Death Magnetic, Metallica shows that they still have what it takes to be a great band

After the release of St. Anger, I'm sure many metal fans were wondering whether Metallica was done as a band or whether they would release something better. Well, they answered that question with the release of Death Magnetic in 2008. The album's producer is Rick Rubin, famous for his work with Slayer. Gone is the tin can sounding drums and we hear drums the way that they should be played. The album is a really long one clocking in at over 74 minutes and ten songs. If you don’t have the patience to sit and listen to this album, then I wouldn’t recommend this album. Death Magnetic marks the return of Metallica to the kind of style that made them famous. Of course this is not an exact copy of And Justice For All or a Master of Puppets. In fact, I would say that Death Magnetic is a quality album and easily their best since 1988. Yes, this album is that good believe me. Death Magnetic is an album that is sure to excite many of Metallica’s veteran fan base that is used to hearing their thrash metal classics such as Kill Em All, Ride the Lightning, and Master of Puppets. This album marks the first time that Robert Trujillo actually plays bass guitar on a Metallica album. Bob Rock handled the bass guitar duties on the previous album St. Anger. It was a five year wait for fans of this band between albums but we can say that the wait was worth it as Death Magnetic is a fine release of the decade of the 2000’s. While Metallica has continued to thrive as a band, bands like Megadeth have really dropped off. Metallica certainly should get credit for being one of the best US metal bands ever. After their experimentation with albums such as Load, Re-Load, and St. Anger, the true style of Metallica is back in full force with this album! After releasing an album with a raw sound and ferocity that was not seen from Metallica in years, they return to write an even better album.

Metallica has been taking a longer time to write and release albums but that has not made them decline musically in the least bit. The ending of this 74 minute album is no less impressive which you will see as well!

I ended up buying this great album back in 2011 at a local Barnes and Noble store and I was definitely not disappointed and I hope that you will enjoy a listen through this long but awesome release by one of the finest metal bands in the history of the genre. How does Death Magnetic sound as an album ten years later? The answer is that it sounds just as mature, heavy, and technical as it did back in 2008.

The album Death Magnetic: That Was Just Your Life

The opener That Was Just Your Life starts out with a slow part just like in a few of their earlier songs years ago before becoming an aggressive and thrash metal type of song. Kirk Hammett uses the wah pedal when he plays the solo in this song. Yes, there are guitar solos in this album, thank goodness! I love this one and it’s a great way to open the album.

A Photo of the CD Death Magnetic With All of the Song Titles


Death Magnetic: The Review Part 3

The End of the Line is another solid song and it features a nice and soft section later in the song. The song called Master of Puppets had a style similar to this where it would be heavy and then switch to a softer part. Broken, Beat and Scarred is another heavy song that tries to get across that message that what does not kill you makes you stronger. Most of us have heard this before. Whatever may happen to us in our lives can either make or break us. James Hetfield uses his voice to his advantage in that part. I especially like how Hetfield does the vocal parts in The Unforgiven 3. That song starts out with an excellent piano part before the vocals start. It is one of the best ballads that I have heard. It beats The Unforgiven (1991) and The Unforgiven 2 (1997). All Nightmare Long is just a really, really heavy song with a lot of picking and it shows a return to 1983. If the song called Hunter Killer is a masterpiece on the album called Carnival Diablos by Canadian metal band Annihilator, then All Nightmare Long is outstanding on Death Magnetic. I have always loved the fast and heavy stuff and this song is no exception! This is one of those songs worth listening to over and over. You will not be disappointed.

Why is the Song Cyanide a Significant Song?

Cyanide is another great song and once again, this one has a section with softer vocals. The song is about someone who has died and he feels at bliss because of that. Life is precious so if you are feeling down and want to end it there is a better alternative, life!

Unfortunately suicide is a leading cause of death for those aged 15 to 24. The song is rather groovy and may not get the attention that it deserves.

The song called That Was Just Your Life

The second half of the album ends in the best way possible: with the song My Apocalypse

Suicide and Redemption is an instrumental song lasting almost ten minutes. But it is not as good as Orion or The Call of Ktulu. It would be hard to top those songs. My Apocalypse is now one of my absolute favorite tracks on the album. But it features solid and aggressive vocals. This song reminds me of Damage Inc. because of the fast guitar picking, fast drumming and overall fast pace of this song. If you don't like long albums then you will be disappointed as there is no song under five minutes. You really have to be patient. Death Magnetic is a solid comeback by these US heavy metal veterans and it is much better than St. Anger. In fact, I would say that in some ways, it beats Master of Puppets. Yes, I know many will disagree but that is my opinion. Is Death Magnetic the best album by Metallica? No, but it has speed, aggression, melody and even a ballad style song. Death Magnetic has variety in the songs and that’s a good thing for sure.

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Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield are on stage in London, England on September 15, 2008.
Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield are on stage in London, England on September 15, 2008. | Source

This is one of those albums that a heavy metal fan should have

For a 2008 album this is one of the best that I have heard. Any metal fan must get this album. Metallica really redeemed themselves after St. Anger and they are showing on this album what their true talent is. I will admit that this is the way that I felt when I first wrote this review. But much time has passed since then and I have changed my opinion. I have grown to really enjoy some of the songs on St. Anger but Death Magnetic is superior to that album in pretty much every way. Recommended songs on this album include That Was Just Your Life, All Nightmare Long, Cyanide, The Unforgiven 3, The Judas Kiss, and the excellent last thrash metal song My Apocalypse. Cliff Burton would have been really proud of an album like this had he lived to see the greatness that Metallica has achieved. Metallica along with Testament and Slayer stand out to me as the three finest US thrash metal bands of all time. I am sure that even after Metallica calls it quits as a band the people that really appreciate fine music will see that Death Magnetic is a solid release. The final score for Death Magnetic is a 92 out of 100 points! Dave Mustaine doesn’t even realize what he could have seen and experienced from these US heavy metal legends. Metallica will always be a better band than Megadeth in this writer’s opinion.

Final Thoughts About the Greatness of Death Magnetic

Metallica has a track record musically that deserves legitimate praise and recognition. They were very strong in the 1980’s where their early studio releases were pure, raw, fast, and hard-hitting. Then they got into the mainstream arena with their 1991 black album and even won over fans such as myself. Death Magnetic is another sort of musical gem in the history of Metallica that I will enjoy even in my later years.

Final Thoughts About the Greatness of Death Magnetic Especially Ten Years Later

Note: as of 2018 the best Metallica album may be And Justice for All but Death Magnetic is an album that should be put on a list of Metallica’s top 3 best albums. But as to what is Metallica’s best album ever, that is a really tough call. Hint: it is not any of their albums made in the 1990’s.

Even in 2018, Death Magnetic is an album that should appeal to fans of older albums such as And Justice For All. In that album, the bass wasn’t audible but on Death Magnetic there is a mature sound on it and Metallica does not abandon their roots. So, Death Magnetic is a classic heavy metal album even for how modern it is.

Metallica's The Unforgiven 3

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The song called My Apocalypse (thrash metal classic)

Favorite Song on the Album Death Magnetic

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"Cyanide" One of the Underrated Songs on Death Magneitc

© 2016 Ara Vahanian


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