Monday, 8 December 2008

13. Welcome Home...

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh lanugage and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

Everything I thought was certain has now changed. It would seem that anything is now possible.

Going into work On the morning of Thursday 18th September 2008, I found myself in a place I hadn't been to since the summer of 1991 (and it wasn't Laser Quest on Margate seafront). I found myself able to put my hand on my heart and say something I thought I'd never say again...

"The new Metallica album is... fucking AWESOME."

It seems melodramatic, I know, but it's really affected me that much, I kid you not. The cracks started to appear when they were touring for the black album. It took me a while (alright, a couple of weeks) to adjust to their 'rock' sound, and while I fucking LOVE that album, it's almost like a different band that recorded '...And Justice For All'. The new sound gained them a larger commercial credibility, and they started rolling out singles like Michael Jackson on 'Bad'. Then they toured three times off the back of one album. They were going to have to pull something pretty amazing out of the bag to retain a fanbase that was still besotted with Slayer, and the way they stayed fresh without changing their sound every two years.

It's not that I ever grew out of Metallica, it's more that come 1996, we parted ways as I thought that their material for the 'Load' album was shit, 'ReLoad' equally shit, 'S&M' was a wasted opportunity and the least said about 'St. Anger' the better. That Napster episode also wound me up for reasons I won't rant about here. All in all, it seemed like ego had gotten the better of the boys and any connection to the raw, visceral thrash metal of the 1980's was gone for good. I still listened to the first five albums on a semi-regular basis, but had no real passion for the band any more.

Then, in early September I saw an ad or an article (or something) about the new Metallica Album, 'Death Magnetic', and thought to myself "now THAT's a pretty fucking good name for an album", and it was only out of idle curiosity that I gave it a whirl. The great thing about it is that things just seem to slot into place...


1) The title: DEATH MAGNETIC. It just sounds fucking cool, but maybe that's because it's got 'death' in the title. Any who doesn't like magnets, eh? Not overly enamoured of the cover, but hey ho.

2) The track layout. It's all classic Metallica here, and sticks to the old-school formula. Track one starts with a clean guitar sound before getting harsh and noisy (like on RtL, MoP & tBA). Track four is the 'ballad' track (like on RtL, MoP & AJFA). The penultimate track is the way-long instrumental track (like on RtL, MoP & AJFA).

3) Even "The Unforgiven Part 3" is a great achievement when you consider that "Part 2" sounded like a bad rip-off of a song that should never, NEVER, be sequelled. Some things are just sacred, and trying to follow them up is an insult to the original (The Crow 2, anyone? Oh, how about Dusk Till Dawn 2?). That being said, "Part 3" just WORKS. The song structure is the same and the musical composition and lyrics are evocative of the original without being a rehash.

4) The production: The album has the raw, stripped feel of 'And Justice for All', with the melodies of 'The Black Album'. It almost feels like they should have put this record out in 1990, as a bridge between the two. The transition between AJfA and tBA threw a lot of people at the time (myself included), and this sounds like the best of both worlds.


1) They're still a bunch of fucking whiny old men. I couldn't bring myself to watch 'Some Kind of Monster' and listen to their self-indulgent shite about how hard it is to be a millionnaire musician with a global fanbase hanging on your every word, knowing you'll fill arenas world-wide whenever you decide to tour. With this in mind, I haven't been able to bring myself to watch the two-hour 'Making Death Magnetic' documentary either. I have a funny feeling it may spoil the album for me.

2) What the fuck is going on in the video for 'The Day That Never Comes'? I was under the impression that it's a song about bullying and/or domestic violence/abuse... so they make a video set in Iraq where some troops get shot, and the survivors nearly frag an Iraqi couple on their way to market, but decide not to. I guess it's supposed to be a lesson about prejudice and keeping an open mind, whilst supporting the troops that are out there doing a shitty job for a guy who interfered in someone else's business to try and boost his popularity; an admirable sentiment, but IT DOESN'T WORK WITH THIS SONG.


1) I'm not going to go into detail, but remember that massive court case a few years back where Metallica were instrumental (no pun intended) in shutting Napster down? Well, if we lived in Metallica's ideal world, I wouldn't have heard the album - wouldn't have loved the album - wouldn't have BOUGHT the album. But we don't, so I did, I did, and I DID. Go figure.

So, to sum up; in a year where Oasis and Dido have have put out albums that bored the arse off me; in a year where 'new music' is generally boring the arse off me and I'm listening to a lot of Skynyrd and old-school blues; Metallica have put a fucking great big smile on my face. Listening to 'Death Magnetic' has got to be the ONLY time I miss my long hair (just a bit, not a lot).

If you liked Metallica's first five albums, GO AND LISTEN TO DEATH MAGNETIC \m/

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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