Release Date: 9/12/08
This review was initially written 9/23/08 and contains some minor edits.
Oh, where to begin… Metallica’s first album, Kill ‘EM All came out in 1983… Just kidding.
This album is what I see as a return to classic Metallica. Heavier than Metallica (or The Black Album) but not quite as heavy as …And Justice For All. To their credit, it doesn’t really sound like either of these. They’ve taken their classic formula and wrote songs today. If you wish to call it a rip-off of themselves you’d still be wrong, because the excellent songwriting won’t let you forget it is Metallica. The production is considerably better than St. Anger‘s, no crappy guitar tones, drum sound, and bad voice work, everything’s improved. Except for it being way, way too loud. There’s even bass parts you can hear! There’s a bass and drum only part, albeit briefly, on “Cyanide” as well as “Suicide & Redemption”… imagine that. If you are a fan of Load & Reload only, you’re almost guaranteed not to like this album. Side note: I’ve never actually met anyone who even really likes those albums period, but just a heads up.
The lead single, “The Day That Never Comes” is a great song, which is likely to be compared to “One” considering its melodic beginning and explosive ending; while the other melodic song “The Unforgiven III”, is also a really good song that really shows off Hetfield’s ability to actually sing, though maybe not as well as on the first “Unforgiven”. There’s also an interesting instrumental, another feature of the “classic” albums, titled “Suicide & Redemption”, that features some very catchy guitar work. “The End of the Line”, “Broken, Beat and Scarred” and “Cyanide” are a part of a familiar yet new Metallica sound, which is undeniably metal.. and catchy. ‘That Was Just Your Life,” “All Nightmare Long”, and “My Apocalypse” should satisfy any fan of ’80’s Metallica, and just so happen to be my three favorites. I must emphasize how incredible ‘All Nightmare Long’ is, it’s their best song in 17 years.
2018 update: I’ve found myself very rarely re-listening to this album because the recording is completely bricked. There is clipping everywhere and there is literally no dynamics whatsoever. There is a different mix on the Guitar Hero version which sounds far, far better. The band still refuses to release this much improved version on CD or streaming services however. Your ears get fatigued so fast due to the sound quality. This album would be at least a 4 if not for this.
Highlights: “The Day That Never Comes”, “All Nightmare Long”, “My Apocalypse”