Metallica didn't commit its biggest sin when it exposed its dirty laundry in gory, self-indulgent detail in the 2003 film Some Kind of Monster. No — Metallica disgraced itself 12 years earlier on the wretched "Black Album" (Metallica), when the Bay Area quartet abandoned the thrash-metal art form it helped invent. Then the band insultingly claimed that its fans had grown weary of the epic-length song format that had, until then, been a part of its legend. Now, almost 20 years after the fact, Metallica finally seems to have gotten the point: that — hello! — the people who originally bought into the band (and paved its road to superstardom) actually like its songs long. Death Magnetic, with only one tune clocking in at under six-and-a-half minutes, sees Metallica cramming riffs aplenty into each number as if to make up for lost time. At producer Rick Rubin's urging, the whole thing sounds, tonewise, like the band's 1986 landmark Master of Puppets. But is it too late to help Metallica win back some respect? Only time can tell, but undeniably, Metallica sounds more energized and hungry than it has in two decades. If the band hadn't been underutilizing its strengths so badly since '88, it wouldn't have backed itself into the corner it's clearly trying to get out of here. That said, expect these songs (especially "Cyanide," "Suicide and Redemption" and "All Nightmare Long") to go over appropriately huge live.
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