Review of Metallica's EP "Beyond Magnetic"
Released December 13th, 2011, "Beyond Magnetic" is Metallica's latest release of studio songs since "Death Magnetic", except on an EP instead of an album. These four songs were made with the ten songs from "Death Magnetic" but were left out because the band apparently saw it essential to cram the disc to capacity for the sake of volume. Anyway, to coincide with their 30th anniversary shows, they decided it was time for these songs to finally see the light. Originally given only to members of the Metallica Fan Club, it was probably realized that the internet would kill the exclusivity of it all and that it would be best to control their release to an extent. Fans who lamented "Lulu" rejoice!
Track List (All songs written by Hetfield, Ulrich, Hammett, and Trujillo)
1. Hate Train 6:59
2. Just A Bullet Away 7:11
3. Hell and Back 6:57
4. Rebel of Babylon 8:01
Hate Train, the first of the four brand new songs, kicks off immediately with a great riff that was used on "Mission Metallica" videos. James thunders along singing of anger and rage until melodically mourning the loss of tomorrow. Say what you will about James' vocal pitch, it works for this song. The solos, as always, are impeccable. In this case, the instrumentals of the song are what stands out; how great to hear some new Metallica riffage! By no means a hit, Hate Train is a solid potential addition to their setlist for future shows.
Just A Bullet Away's main riff is the stand out of the whole EP and more impressive than some on "Death Magnetic." The lyrics on this song are also notable:
"Twisting on Apocalypse
Death upon the fingertips
Frigid metal touches lips on the shine of the Midnight Revolver"
THAT is Metallica living up to their name! However, the song does suffer some awkward arrangements of the their chorus, and the interlude, while remniscent of Master of Puppets', doesn't fit very well. Flaws aside, it is probably the best tune overall.
Hell and Back, while it might seem like a classic Metallica thrasher tune title, it does not really deliver that sentiment. The highlight of the song is seen about halfway through where some serious headbanging opportunity is given. That's it, though. The chorus is unremarkable and shows it was a good decision to leave this for an EP release. Generic lyrics can serious hinder the overall quality of a song, as seen in this case.
Rebel of Babylon is probably the second best song, behind Just A Bullet Away. At 8 minutes, there is plenty of room for variety. There are heavy parts, groovier parts, and, yes, some unnecessary repetition. Some say there are reflections of the "Justice" album, but I can mostly hear a bit of "Load/Reload" in the mix, especially in the chorus. Hammett varies in wah and unwah solos, yet after listening to the whole song, it is hard to remember exaclty everything you just listened to. So, does it suffer from memorability issues? Yes. Is it better placed on an EP than the songs on "Death Magnetic?" Nope. Cyanide might have been better dropped, but that is a whole other debate.
Overall: 7/10 James' vocals might be a necessary evil, but that doesn't excuse poor production and mediocre songwriting seen in some of these songs. That said, even if the worst song from this EP was released on its own, it'd be better than the whole of "Lulu."
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