Welcome Home: A Review of the Three New Metallica Songs

I guess it’s a good thing I’m a little late, as Metallica released ANOTHER single, “My Apocalypse”, just days after their first single, “The Day That Never Comes.” Now, to be fair, I should tell you that I’m a huge Metallica fan. I’ve appreciated all their work, including Load and Reload, and I can even understand why St. Anger sounds the way it does. This is not to say that they’re my favorite albums, that I listen to them, or that I even really like them. In fact, I probably haven’t listened to St. Anger in full since 2003, probably due to the headaches induced by my cringing. The point is, I’m not a “Metallica hater,” but neither am I a “sheep.” I don’t claim that every song on Load is golden, and at the same time, I think “Until it Sleeps” is really badass. So, I will try to be as objective and critical as possible.

“Cyanide“:

This was the public’s first taste of Death Magnetic, debuted at this year’s Ozzfest in Dallas, Texas. After the reaction to St. Anger five years earlier, Metallica had A LOT to prove to the skeptics. When you have a band that likes to change their style as much as Metallica, you almost always have someone bashing them for something, but this was different. After their rockumentary, “Some Kind of Monster” was released in 2003, along with St. Anger, a lot of people who were on the fence about Metallica finally jumped off to the other side. Not only did it seem as though the band had lost their energy and run out of ideas, but the music they put out basically proved it. The bashers finally had a real foot to step on, musically. Napster, the haircuts, and the change in musical interest were bad enough but now, Metallica had officially handed their harshest critics the weapon to kill them with. Until now.

“Cyanide” is probably the grooviest thing Metallica has ever come out with. And I mean that literally, not in the 70’s slang way. Right off the bat it kick-starts with some wah-fueled guitar riffage and jumps right into a bass riff that carries most of the tune. It has some definite callbacks to their earlier work. Lot’s of chugging palm-muted stuff, time changes, a killer solo, and instrumental breaks. It’s quite fast, and definitely heavy. There’s some new stuff too. There is a distinct middle-eastern sound to a lot of the riffs, and especially during the soft, “Say, is that rain” section. Also, the bass guitar is prominent throughout, not just in certain parts, as in “My Friend of Misery” or “Orion”. This is of no disrespect to the late, great Cliff Burton, it’s simply a different style of writing. The drums sound really great too, especially during the chorus.

The song does have it’s faults, though. For one, the lyrics are quite corny. “Suicide / I’ve already died / It’s just the funeral I’ve been waiting for” is repeated throughout. Many fans can easily look past it, but a lot of people are going to mock it too. Luckily, the catchiness of it all makes up for it. Also, James’ voice doesn’t seem to have improved much since 1996, but I am judging a live version of the song, so the studio version may be better. Finally, the structure of the song seems quite confused, and would be difficult to map out mentally.

All in all, “Cyanide” should get your blood pumping. It has a lot of catchy hooks, a fast, bouncing groove, and the energy Metallica seems to have been missing for a long time. That said, I can easily seeing it being one of the more mediocre songs on the album, especially compared to the two other songs that have been released.

8 out of 10

“The Day That Never Comes”:


“The Day That Never Comes” is the first official single released for Death Magnetic, released on August 21. I supposed the best way to describe this song would be to call it a “modern-day ‘One'” but that’s not entirely accurate. This song starts with an arpeggiated chord progression, and a very prog-sounding lead guitar. In this aspect it is very much like other Metallica ballads like “Fade to Black,” or “Sanitarium.” It then segues into another arpeggiated riff that wouldn’t sound out of place on Load or Reload, mixed with the guitar tone of “One”. Hetfield’s vocals come in with their patented bit of soul found on songs like “The Unforgiven II.” It has a build up to a heavy chorus that has quite a bit of emotional weight behind it, unlike “Cyanide”. This goes on until about halfway through the song when it all breaks lose in typical Metallica ballad style. Again, in the fashion of “One,” Kirk and James break out the tremolo open E, which afterwards goes into a great sounding harmonic lead that sounds like a tribute to Iron Maiden. Afterwards is a hammer-on and time change marathon, while Kirk solos until the song ends in a drum roll.

What I loved most about this song was that it seems to totally capture the essence of Metallica’s career. It doesn’t sound like new or old Metallica, it sounds like a mix. It sounds as though Metallica has finally settled on who they are as a band and found a way to blend their aspects. The lyrics are heartfelt, and mellow, but it has the power of a song that could be found on …And Justice For All. It’s 8 minutes long, but never feels like it drags. You’re always excited to hear where it will go next. And James and Kirk shine on it much moreso than they did on “Cyanide” which was largely a Rob and Lars showpiece.

The weakest point of this song is probably James’ voice. It sounds great during the verse and chorus, but sounds especially weak during the “This I swear / The sun will shine” break. The bass also doesn’t stand out very much, which seems like a waste of Rob’s talent, especially compared to how well it worked on “Cyanide”.

These flaws are all very minor in what is otherwise a great song.

9 out of 10

“My Apocalypse”:

Unexpectedly, Metallica released “My Apocalypse” at 12:30 AM on Monday, August 25 online, and revealed that they would continue to release new songs every Monday until the the album came out on September 12. Not only did the surprising release catch everyone off guard, but so did the music. It is easily Metallica’s thrashiest offering in 20 years.

“My Apocalypse” starts with a riff reminiscent of “Harvester of Sorrow,” complete with the battle-march drums. It smoothly transitions into a thrash beat and off the song goes. It truly sounds like something off of Kill ’em All. The chorus has a strong fist-pumping quality about it, and sounds a lot more like newer Metallica than the rest of it, which is a good thing. It doesn’t sound like a rehash, it sounds fresh. At 1:55, a Slayer-eque riff starts, which James barks short, rhyming phrases over. After a blistering Kill ’em All style solo, the song goes back to verse, chorus, and ends with a variation of “Awaken my apocalypse!”

I have to admit, I didn’t think Metallica even had this in them anymore. I was obviously wrong, as I’m sure many others were too. It seems as though it was never about not being able to do it, it was actually about choosing not to do it. Metallica wanted to move on, and now they feel comfortable revisiting their old territory, and they did it well. It sounds like a mix of Kill ’em All and …And Justice For All. Hetfield’s vocals sound the best they have in years, and even bring to mind Tom Araya of Slayer, most notably during the “Crushing metal / Ripping skin / Tossing body / Mannequin / Spilling blood / Bleeding gas” portion. The guitars and drums are fast, and Rob is keeping up with them well.

This will get your head banging. Ironically, what may be the best song on the album is also the shortest at 5:01. If the rest of the album can stand up to this, the fans who have stuck with Metallica through thick and thin are going to be rewarded.

10 out of 10

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~ by Alex Stone on August 27, 2008.

One Response to “Welcome Home: A Review of the Three New Metallica Songs”

  1. Awesome review!! thanks. this is exactly what i felt 🙂

    Spit it out!!!!

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