Metallica

    {grate 3.5/4}

    On Death Magnetic, the nearly forgotten grandmasters of heavy metal return with a vengeance, abandoning innovation for the classic bombastic instrumentation of their most famous and critically acclaimed works from the ’80s and early ’90s. While most contemporary rock, no matter the subgenre, tends to revolve around a catchy, sound-bite-ready chorus, Metallica’s newest work shifts its emphasis back to the seamless interplay of pounding drums and escalating guitar riffs, gradually building off each other into clashing, thrashing climaxes. Cryptic lyrics — which vaguely explore tired facets of death and suicide — take a backseat to the vastly more entertaining background noise. This fundamental paradigm shift is most obvious on “Suicide and Redemption,” an instrumental track clocking in at nearly 10 minutes that contains such an epic synthesis of oscillating riffs and frantic drumbeats, you’d hardly believe these guys are as old as your dad.

    Each track averages roughly seven minutes, totaling over an hour of heavy, earth-shaking rage with minimal lyrics that induce a state of absolute listener exhaustion. While Metallica’s newfound infatuation with the classic metal that first vaulted them to stardom will thrill enthusiasts, the average peruser, deafened from awareness of intricate shifts separating one jaw-dropping guitar solo from another, will inevitably be overwhelmed by unpleasant sameness — let’s just say Magnetic certainly won’t win Metallica any new converts. The perpetual disconnect between those who feel that Metallica’s powerful concoctions speak to the soul and those who dismiss their music as senseless noise won’t be resolved anytime soon.

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