Overkilla05 Reviews The Music Contained On Various Albums

Overkilla05Overkilla05 Unsigned
edited July 2010 in History of Rock
Greetings Album Review Forums! I've been lurking here for a long time, observing the process of writing album reviews and I decided to try my hand at a few myself. My writing style forces my reviews to be very lengthy, so I've divided my reviews into sections to help people navigate them quickly:

Sample Review:

Album name by band

Release Date

Genre

Length

Label

Track Listing

Long, Written Out Review

Final Score (X out of 10)

tl:dr version (if you want the album summed up in a sentence, look here)

Songs I Recommend To Those Not Getting The Full Album

I have three reviews already written (why come to the party if you're not prepared, right?) and plan on posting them, along with a little thing I wrote up explaining what the numerical scores mean to me.

Constructive criticism, the most useful kind, is always appreciated. However, I would like it very much if it was less of the "lol, u suk" variety, and more of the "I appreciate your style, but here are some ways that you could improve good sir!"

If people like my reviews, I will post more, and will maybe even take requests, if I can get a hold of the album in question. If they are not liked, I will vanish into obscurity once again!

Also, a little disclaimer, I somehow have less than zero musical training, so if I call an instrument or technique the wrong word, please don't beat me for it, just correct me. Additionally, these reviews are of course, MY OPINION, I am in no way suggesting that it is the only correct view to have, and I am open to having discussions with people who disagree with scores, again, as long as their opinon is not, "ur wrong nub, stfu", and more, "While I appreciate your opinion, I feel this way about said album, etc".

Comments

  • Overkilla05Overkilla05 Unsigned
    edited July 2010
    How Album Scores Breakdown:

    0: Completely worthless, no redeeming factors anywhere, if someone paid you to listen to this album, it would still not be worth it. An embarassment to music and humanity in general.

    0.1-1.9: Incredibly frustrating to listen all the way through,low prodution value (that interferes with the listener's ability to hear the music), no good singles, only people absolutly devoted to the artist or the genre could find this even a little enjoyable and they most likely would not.

    2-2.9: Terrible, uninspired, music, that might be well produced, but is either boring or difficult to listen to, even for fans of the band or genre.

    3-3.9: Might have one tolerable song, but other than that, the album is full of filler tracks that do little, and, apart from that one single, is not enjoyable to listen to.

    4-4.9: One or two decent songs, however, as an album, it fails to "flow", most tracks are still filler, they might not be bad, but they are forgetable.

    5-5.9: Average, nothing terribly bad, nothing terribly good. Typically has good singles, and maybe one album only track that is fun, but that is about it. Fans of the band will enjoy, but better options exist.

    6-6.9: Above average, good singles, a few good album tracks, the album starts to have "flow" (the songs feel like they belong together). Fans of the band will enjoy and new listeners will probably like the singles.

    7-7.9: Good, singles are enjoyable, most album tracks are good (some may not be on par with single quality), album "flow" is definately a presense here, a good album for both fans of the band and newcomers.

    8-8.9: Great, singles are very fun, most album tracks are on par with single quality, and in fact, some may be better than singles. Album flow is very noticable, and songs don't feel out of place. This is an album that it is very easy to listen through multiple times, and both casual and hardcore fans will enjoy.

    9-9.9: Excellent, work of the highest quality. Nearly every song is great fun to listen to, album flows extremely well from song to song, fans and newcomers will both definatly want to pick it up, and even non-fans should give a listen, as it is an extremely well done album.

    10: Catching lightning in a bottle. Perfection is impossible, but this is an album that is as close to flawless as anyone is going to get. Every track is a shining example of what makes this type of music good, the album not only flows, but the songs are all perfectly able to stand on their own. The artist is at the top of their game and you could spin this album multiple times a day, and it would be amazing each time. A must own if someone considers themselves a fan of music.

    A few notes about ratings:

    When I talk about flow, the meaning is two-fold. If an album has good songs, but they don't necessarily sound like they go together, I will still award it a high score, because I consider part of flow to be if the quality of songs stays consistent. So, if an album has a bunch of really good tracks that don't really transition between each other, and don't have a lot to do with each other, I will still give it a good score if the songs stay consistently good. However, on the opposite spectrum, if an album has some weaker tracks, but they transition really well between one another and feel like they belong together, that album will also get a high score. In my mind, a truly great album has songs that transition well between each other, feel like they belong together and in that order, but can also stand individually as great songs on their own.
  • Overkilla05Overkilla05 Unsigned
    edited July 2010
    First Review!

    Album Review: Together by The New Pornographers

    Release Date: May 4, 2010

    Genre: Indie Rock

    Length: 44:27

    Label: Matador

    Track Listing

    1. Moves
    2. Crash Years
    3. Your Hands (Together)
    4. Silver Jenny Dollar
    5. Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk
    6. My Shepherd
    7. If You Can't See My Mirrors
    8. Up In The Dark
    9. Valkyrie In The Rollar Disco
    10. A Bite Out Of My Bed
    11. Daughters Of Sorrow
    12. We End Up Together

    Change can be either a good or a bad thing for bands. For instance, I doubt that many people would argue the fact that the Beatles musical output reached its zenith when they abandoned the Britpop format of their early records and began their focus on more folk (Rubber Soul) and psychedelic (Sgt. Peppers) material. Conversely however, many people were angry at Metallica when they discarded the thrash style of their first four albums and began to focus on a more blues oriented, "hard rock" sound, alienating many of their core fans and creating a hole that they are still digging themselves out of. Change can bear very fruitful results for a band, while at the same time, it risks alienating the core fanbase that loved the band's early material.

    The New Pornographers, the Canadian indie rock supergroup composed primarily of A.C. "Carl" Newman, Neko Case, Dan Bejar and Kathryn Calder found themselves in a situation where changing their style may not have yielded favorable results. After the suprise smash hit that was "Mass Romantic" in 2000, the oft underlooked and underrated "Electric Version" in 2003 and the critically adored "Twin Cinema" in 2005, the band released "Challengers" in 2007. A far cry from their early records, this record bore little resemblence to the three that had preceded it. Their first records had consisted of bouncy, fun, nonsensical power pop songs, with the occasional ballad (such as "The Bleeding Heart Show" from Twin Cinema), whereas Challengers was full of slower, more serious songs with a more somber, downcast mood, with the only bone thrown to fans of the band's original style in the form of "All The Things That Go To Make Heaven And Earth". Needless to say, many of the band's early fans (myself included) were thrown by the abrupt switch in style and considered the album to be a dissapointment.

    Now, in 2010, The New Pornographers have a chance for redemption with their new album "Together". So, does it make up for the rather lackluster preformance of Challengers? Well yes, yes it does, and although it is not of the exceptional quality of the first three recordings of the band, it is a fine record in its own right and feels like more of a natural follow-up to Twin Cinema.

    The album opens with the track "Moves", a Newman led number, that, dispite the track's name, does little to move the listener, as it is a slower track by New Pornographer standards. That's not to say it is a bad track, on the ohter hand, it is a rather enjoyable opener, driven by violins, pianos, and Newman's singing backed by the female voices of the band. The album then continues to arguably my favorite song on the record, "Crash Years". This song is full of the reasons that I fell in love with the New Pornographers ten years ago, but the most prominent of those reasons is that this is a song with Neko Case on lead vocals. Case's voice has been drastically underused in the New Pornographers ever since "Mass Romantic", however, her driving vocals on this song recall the best moments of "Letter From An Occupant" and "These Are The Fables". Plus, the whistling part in the chorus brings to mind "Games Without Frontiers" by Peter Gabriel,and really, you can't go wrong with that.

    Your Hands (Together), the first single is up next, and it reuses another favorite trick of the band, having mutiple vocalists sing the verses, and having a single vocalist sing the chorus while the others harmonize in the background. This format is extremely enojoyable, it's great fun to hear Newman, Case, and Calder share lines in the verses, and have Case's voice explode out in the chorus with Newman and Calder still in the background. The instrumental format of this song is also interesting, during the verses, the only sound is of a subdued bass line, interspersed with brief snippets of guitar chords which build up steadily until the chorus brings a rush of guitar , along with a cascading drum pattern which is reminescent of the drums in "Use It"'s chorus. Dan Bejar takes the lead on "Silver Jenny Dollar", in which, quite honestly, the vocals and guitars are rather forgetable, but an interesting thing stands out to me on this track, the drumming. Kurt Dahle gets a few chances here to show us his skills with the skins, and when he is not merely keeping the beat, he gets a chance to bust out in some very entertaining fills, plus an odd "stomping" style beat near the 2 minute mark of the song.

    "Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk" is a Calder/Newman led number on which the standout parts are the vocal performance of Calder, who shows that she, like Case, can blend her voice with Newman's in the verses, but up her vocal power and take center stage during the chorus, (really, The New Pornographers are at their best when the girls sing) and an interesting guitar sound around 1:26 that a lack of musical knowledge prohibits me from describing in a useful way, but definatly grabs my attention every time I listen to the track. The only other Case led number, "My Shepherd" begins with soft piano and gentle guitar and pounding drums, that slowly build up to a chorus that has Case belting "You're my Lord, my Shepherd. Careful kid, no one gets hurt". This song could be considered the "ballad" of the album and is always fun to listen to. Dan Bejar takes up the mic again for "If You Can't See My Mirrors", an enjoyable little pop ditty that combines Bejar's nonsensical lyrics, harmonized with his female bandmates, with the jangley New Pornongrapher guitars of yore (it reminds me of "Jackie" from "Mass Romantic" but that's just me).

    Newman returns to lead mic duites during "Up In The Dark", where he harmonizes with Case in the chorus, "What's love but what turns up in the dark?". While there is nothing bad about this track, it is ultimatley rather forgettable, as there are no stand out vocal preformances, no interesting drum parts, no memorable guitar parts, pretty much the only thing that stands out to me about the song is the chorus line. It is, in my opinon, one of the weaker songs, but nothing so horrible it made me snap off the CD in disgust. "Valkyrie In The Rollar Disco" (which, when I think about it, is a freaking awesome song title) brings another slow song to the table, with Newman and the girls begining the song softly singing over a gently strummed banjo, quietly played piano, with a simpe snare drum beat, and a quiet electric guitar solo midway. Ultimately, however, the song is a little too slow for its own good, as much of the lyrics are just repetitions of the chorus, and the instrumental parts, while solid, didn't exactly blow my mind.

    The band returns to power pop in full swing at the begining of "A Bite Out Of My Bed", that includes both a horn section and a stringed instrument (or a guitar that sounds strangly like a different stringed instrument) over the band's guitar chords. Newman is once again singing lead here, and while the vocal performance is, in my opinon, a little underwhelming, I found the intrumental portion of this song to be more interesting. Bejar takes up the lead mic for the final time with "Daughters of Sorrow" claiming that "somehow I just know, I'm gonna have to hang around you". You'll want to "hang around" this song too! (Oh God, did I really just write a pun that bad?). Anyway, I say that because the traditional nonsense lyrics combined the spastic piano and disjointed guitar notes towards the song's middle make this a song that helps the album pick up a little when it was begining to drag a bit.

    Finally, the album reaches its conclusion with "We End Up Together" that begins with Newman softly strumming an acoustic guitar and singing softly. I was instantly terrified that an enjoyable album was going to end on a return to everything I disliked about Challengers, but my fears were put to rest when Case's voice joined Newmans and the string section started kicking in. This song is great, it makes me smile, it slowly blooms from the simplistic opening and adds voices, guitar, piano, strings. Truly, every part of the band "ends up together" on this part of the album, as all their voices (at least I presume that's everyone else singing in the background) and instruments, can be made out here (I need to stop writing puns). The simple chorus of "ma,ma,ma,ma" is sung before the strings kick in, and then Newman starts singing after the chorus "We end up together", a joyus exclamation that seems to say to fans divided by their last album that, in the end, we really will end up together with the music we love.

    So, that's "Together", a fun record that returns The New Pornographers to the style that won them fans in the first place, while allowing them to keep a little of the seriousness that was brought on by "Challengers". On the whole, as an album, all the songs feel like "they belong", nothing is out of place or jarring, and the album is not overly long or disappointingly short, rather it is an ideal length. I recommend this album to fans of the band, and would go as far as to say that it is a good jumping on point for prospective new fans (though, you should really pick up their early records too). Band's are rarely given a second chance after an album fails to impress their fans, but with this entry, The New Pornographers might have bought themselves one of those rare second chances.

    Final Score: 7.8/10

    tl:dr Version: Not as good as the first three albums, but some solid songs with a few not as interesting ones.

    If You're Not Getting The Whole Album, At Least Get One Of These Songs: Crash Years, Your Hands (Together), Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk, If You Can't See My Mirrors, We End Up together.
  • Overkilla05Overkilla05 Unsigned
    edited July 2010
    Second Review!

    Album Review: I Get Wet by Andrew W.K.

    Released: November 13, 2001

    Genre: Hard Rock? (Party Rock?!?)

    Length: 35:33

    Label: Island Records

    Track Listing
    1. It's Time To Party
    2. Party Hard
    3. Girls Own Love
    4. Ready To Die
    5. Take It Off
    6. I Love NYC
    7. She Is Beautiful
    8. Party Til You Puke
    9. Fun Night
    10. Got To Do It
    11. I Get Wet
    12. Don't Stop Living In The Red

    Certain albums just seem well suited for certain things. You've got your "pissed off" albums, when you just want to say "f#$* you" to the world, you've got your "sad" albums when you have a bad day, you've got "break up" albums when a girl or guy breaks your heart. I could go on, but the point is that some albums are just well suited to certain situations. Going by this formula, I cannot think of a better album more suited for partying than 2001's "I Get Wet" by Andrew Wilkes-Krier.

    I mean seriously, look at the track listing, three tracks have "party" in their name, at least six of them reference something party related, if there ever was an album that deserved to be called a party album, than this is it. But how does it hold up musically? Well...that is a little harder to put your finger on.

    You know how sometimes people will describe things as "love it or hate it"? After they say that, I usually think, "Wow, what an idiot, you can't cast something as complex as music in black and white, surely shades of gray must exist". This album is one of those rare instances where this phrase actually holds trure. I can honestly say that if you listen to the first track on "I Get Wet" and you like it, you will like the rest of the album, because the songs are all quite similar, not just in theme, but musically as well. On the opposite side, if you dislike the opening track, then it is almost assured that you will dislike the rest of the album as well. There are of course, exceptions to that, but with most of the people I've discussed the album with, they fall into one of those two catagories.

    But, you're presumably reading this review to hear my opinon and answer to the burning question, "Did you think that 'I Get Wet' was a good album"? Well yes, yes I did. Hear me out on this one, the songs may all follow a similar theme, both in lyrical themes and muscial stylings, and some people (I'm looking at you, pitchfork), have described this album as a bunch of screaming vocals over loud blasting insturments and have dismissed it as nothing more than "stupid, dumb music". If this is true, then paint me as a person who enjoys stupid, dumb music because I loved "I Get Wet" a whole lot.

    The album opens with "It's Time to Party" and leaves the listener with absolutly no doubt about what they are getting themselves into with this album. Over roaring guitar, Andrew W.K. bellows the intent of the whole album, " IT'S TIME TO PARTY, LET'S PARTY!!". Really, once that first line hits you, if you're not enjoying yourself, you might as well switch off the album right there, as the rest is very similar. One thing the opening track also informs the listener of is the relative simplicity of the instruments on this album. The drums are pretty much there just to keep a basic beat, the guitars go through fairly basic cord patterns (maybe with the exception of "She Is Beautiful, but I'll get to that later) and the synth and bass lines, while competent, are nothing special. The instruments in this album are not meant to be the listener's focus, rather, they are the force which drives Andrew's loud, loud, loud, vocals, which in turn instructs the listener on what topic they are currently supposed to be having a party about. So, in short, fairly basic but competent instruments that compliment the style of music on display quite well. Okay? Okay, let's move on.

    If, for some reason, you were in doubt as to the topic that "I Get Wet" was exploring after the first song, then "Party Hard" is here to remind you exactly what that topic is. After a little robotic voice intro that recalls Beck at his "Where It's At" best, Andrew begins this defiant party anthem, claiming that "We will never listen to your rules" because we "Do what we like and we like what we do". It's honestly hard to describe how much energy is packed into this song without you hearing it for yourself, but rest assured, if I'm ever tired at night, I fire up this song, and suddenly, I feel an urge to sneak out from wherever I am and find the nearest party and just go crazy. It is extremely fun to listen to, and is a contender for my favorite track on the album.

    So, after two tracks expressly about partying, we come to the first track on "I Get Wet" that is not directly party related, "Girls Own Love". A frantic, and in my opinon, fairly awesome piano intro, leads into Andrew's story of a girl who "Only disapoints you, even though you give her all you can", and is packed with plenty of shouty "Hey!"'s in the chorus, and that awesome, maniac piano part from the intro comes back inbetween verses, so on a whole, it is a very enjoyable listen.

    "Ready To Die" steps up to plate next, and that softer synth intro is just a tease, after about 10 seconds it's right back into thundering drums, and driving guitars, and the force of Andrew W.K.'s vocals. Honestly, though I really like the synth line in this song's chorus, it is a little forgettable, even on an album when all the songs are relatively similar, with no real memorable parts on either the vocal or instrumental specturms. Also, Andrew clearly isn't trying to be a lyrical genius with this album, but can he please try for better lyrics than "We shoot without a gun"? (Sorry, three album playthroughs through and that line still annoys me).

    "Take It Off", unfortunatly, is not a cover of The Donna's song of the same name, (which if done by an artist with as good a sense of humor as Andrew W.K. would be hilarious). The album begins with Andrew slowly shouting the title to the listener, right before he shrieks a pretty impressive scream over yet another fun synth line. This song continues the album's tradition of fast, loud songs, and Andrew also gets in some more shrieks that are similar to the one in the opening, which is a treat (if you're into that sort of thing, which I am). Really, if you're this far into the album, you should still like what you're hearing.

    Next is Andrew's unabashed love letter to New York City, fittingly titled "I Love NYC". A little slower, (at least by this album's fast standards), it is also, unfortunatly, not as good as a track as some of the others. The vocal performance is competent, but the lyrics, even by this album's standards are so forgettable, that I've forgotten all but the chorus line after listening to this album about three times all the way through. So, eh, weak track, nothing terrible, nothing amazing, overall, a little bland.

    But, that track does lead into what is probably my favorite track on the album, "She Is Beautiful". After a very cool guitar (I think) intro, in which the guitarist plays something other than cords, a very cool guitar part blooms, which really helps Andrew tell his story of discovering a girl that he never thought existed before. Now, this may sound hypocritical of me, after complaining about the lyrics earlier, but I LOVE the lyrics to this song. To me, this is the equivilant of a guy who cuts through all the bull crap pesudo-intellectual love songs that some artists write to sound clever, and just simply says what he is thinking in the most bold, direct manner possible. Sometimes the simple idea of shouting "She is beautiful" over and over is more effective than the wittest love poem (Don't get me wrong, I love artists who can create witty turns of phrase and beautiful imagry without even thinking about it, some just need to understand they are not that good at it and that the direct approach can work too).

    "Party Til You Puke", yet another very direct song title, is actually really a violent song with Andrew claiming that "we choke, we kill, we stab, we rob, we steal", before imploring his band of theives and murderers to "party til they puke". There is a really cool effect here that happens in both the intro and the chorus, right after the guitar plays through its cords, but beyond that, nothing much happens. But still, it is a fun song despite that (probably because of all the killing and robbing).

    Okay, seriously, is Andrew a secret criminal mastermind? Because on "Fun Night", after a totally awesome yell in the intro, he brags that he and his followers "take what they want" and that "they don't know, where we will go". Is he a person who just travels with a band of people who steal what they need to fuel an endless party that is travling around the world? (I hope so, that would be insanely cool)! Regardless of these seriously pressing questions, the song in question is a good one, once again a little slower by ablum standards, but the guitar chords are more enjoyable to me here for some reason. Maybe they distract from all the criminal behavior, I dunno.

    "Got To Do It" serves as the album's inspirational ballad, where Andrew tells the listener that "You gotta do all the stuff that you love" and that "you gotta keep up, you gotta keep going". I do love the chorus in this song, its very inspiring, despite its simple message that can be found in many other things in life, but, as previously discussed, sometimes the simplest things are the most effective. I really enjoy this track, the vocals on Andrew's part are well done and, since that's about the only thing unique about this album, it is a very important thing to have.

    Title Track Time! "I Get Wet" is preceded by a royal trumpet fanfare, before returning to the fast guitar, and synth beats of all the other tracks on the album. Andrew here claims that he gets wet "When I know that you're dying". He gets in some pretty good shrieks on this track, and all the frantic energy that was missing from the last two tracks is found in spades here. The fact that the trumpets stay around during the song makes me very happy, and there is an awesome part around 2:22 where the music just cuts to Andrew and the synth and drums and it is very cool to hear. Also, the female voice singing at the end of the song is suspiciously awesome, as is this entire song.

    Whoa, whoa, Andrew are we closing with a slow tra... oh, nevermind. "Don't Stop Living In The Red" tricks the listener into thinking a ballad is coming, then moves into much the same style the whole album has followed. It is fitting that an album that started with a short song with a narrow lyrical range would end with a short song with a narrow lyrical range. However, "It's Time To Party" has a heck of a lot more energy than "Don't Stop Living In The Red" and as such, is able to get by on pure adrenaline. However, "Don't Stop Living In The Red" sounds like what I imagine Andrew W.K. sounds like after one of his all night partys, still enthusiastic, but you can tell he's been up far too long. "Don't Stop Living In The Red" plods a little and is a little disappointing way to end such an energetic album (It's not horrible, but I think that "I Get Wet" and this track should have been switched in order).

    I'll tell you a story, I first became aware of Andrew W.K. because of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, where he busts into a sick Frylock's room shouting "Party, Party, Party!". This display of awesome convinced me to get his album, which is pretty much what you'd expect from a guy who does things like that. The songs may be similar, but that's almost part of the point, they're all meant to be songs that you can have a crazy party with. If you always need your music to be thought provoking, and deeply moving, then you'd best seek entertainment elsewhere. If, however, you're open to a bit of crazy, all around fun that will have you partying till the sun comes up, you can't go wrong with "I Get Wet".

    Final Score: 8/10

    tl:dr Version: If you like loud party music it'll be a blast, if not, take a pass.

    If You Don't Get The Album, At Least Get One Of These Tracks: Party Hard, Girls Own Love, She Is Beautiful, Got To Do It, I Get Wet.
  • Overkilla05Overkilla05 Unsigned
    edited July 2010
    Whoops, third review (Death Magnetic) is about 2,000 characters too long! I'll fix that.
  • Overkilla05Overkilla05 Unsigned
    edited July 2010
    Third Review, Comments Appreciated!

    Album Review: Death Magnetic by Metallica

    Released: September 12, 2008

    Genre: Thrash Metal

    Length: 74:48

    Label: Warner Bros.

    Track Listing
    1. That Was Just Your Life
    2. The End of the Line
    3. Broken, Beat & Scarred
    4. The Day That Never Comes
    5. All Nightmare Long
    6. Cyanide
    7. The Unforgiven III
    8. The Judas Kiss
    9. Suicide & Redemption
    10. My Apocalypse

    Oh, Metallica, what a tangled web you've woven. Like most young men, back in my younger days, I was heavily into Metallica as my metal of choice. I could air-guiter the riff to Master Of Puppets perfectly, started my day with the bass intro to For Whom The Bell Tolls, and I knew the riff and drum intro to Enter Sandman by heart (also, because that is the entrance song for the UW Men's hockey team probably contributed to my knowledge of it). Heck, I even saw the video for One when I was up late as a little kid, and as such, was scared out of my mind and couldn't sleep for a week with those freaking scenes running through my previously innocent and carefree mind. Even that incident didn't diminsh my love for the band, and to this day, I still hold up "Ride The Lightning" and "The Black Album" as two of my favorite albums of all time.

    However, I'm sure that I don't need to remind everyone of what comes after "The Black Album". If you're unaware, go search for the song, St. Anger, and come back when you are done either laughing or crying (maybe both).

    So, after being nearly universally panned by both critics and fans, Metallica finally got the message that people did not want to hear an album where James Hetfield sings out of key over Lars Ulrich's untuned drums while Kirk Hammett doesn't play any guitar solos and the bassist is kind of just there. So they got back into the studio with producer Rick Rubin to record an album that would take them back to their thrash metal days, the days that fans had been pining for a return to ever since the "Load" era. Ulrich, ever the band's spokesperson claimed that the new album would serve as more of a bridge between the thrashier "Master of Puppets" and the darkly progressive "...And Justice For All". I, for one, didn't care if the album was a bridge, a road, a tightrope, whatever, Metallica could take any mode of transportation they wanted to if it would give us an album half as good as any of the first five.

    And, ironically enough, my wish was granted. "Death Magnetic", Metallica's latest offering is nowhere near the greatness of their first five albums, but it is also not even close to the awfulness of their previous three. It sits comfortably in the middle, content to not rock the boat at all, and merely provide the fans with an album that , while better than anything else they've put out recently, is not terribly impressive, and ends up being one of the most average albums I've ever listened to in my 19 years of listening to music.


    The album kicks off with "That Was Just Your Life", where a bass pedal heartbeat (cough, Teardrop, cough) gives way to forboding guitar and bass that quickly incorporate some snare drum and cymbals until the main riff begins. Now, in all honesty, I like the riff to this song, it's fast, kind of catchy, but what really drives me up a wall about this song is the lyrics. Okay, I know James is not the most sensible and refined song writer, but songs like "Fade To Black" and "Sanitarium" proved he was capable of using basic lyrics that made a song's meaning pretty unambiguous. For example, I know "Fade To Black" is about suicide, and that "Sanitarium" is about being possibly insane. On this track though, lyrics such as "Like a raging river when I only need a drink, like a posion that I swallow, but I want the world to die". Really, that's all you've got? I don't need songs meanings spelled out for me, but you could throw me a bone every now and then and maybe point me in the right direction. Regardless, the opener is pretty fun, if you focus on the instruments and ignore the vocals, which, it just occured me, seems like Hetfield is rushed in their delivery, which kind of annoys me too.

    Next we come to "End of The Line", which seems like a dumb song name for the second song on your album, but I digress. That riff sounds really familiar before, where have I heard it? Hold on, let me look that up. Am I the only one who thinks the riff sounds like a mix of "Through The Never" and some other song that I can't place right now? Regardless, this is the first, but not the only instance of "riff recycling" that goes on in "Death Magnetic". As for this song, it is really kind of forgettable, I wasn't a fan. The riff only holds my attention because I try to figure out what other riffs it is cobbled together from, the solo is okay I guess, but if you weren't a fan of Hammett's affair with his Wa-wah pedal, well...this whole album is liable to piss you off, but you'll start to notice it here. And the drumming..., Lars Ulrich is not nearly as bad people make him out to be, but he's not that good either. He really doesn't do anything on this song, or any other song on the album for that matter, other than keep a pretty standard metal beat. It's not bad, but it is definatly not going to be what you remember about the album.

    Broken, Beat & Scarred is titled after what happens to people who request "St. Anger" songs during Metallica concerts (ba-zing!). No, in reality, it's a fairly basic song, and I mean basic in the most basic sense. Hetfield literally repeats "What don't kill ya, make ya more strong" so many times, that I started to think he was refering to the fact that the listener has been able to endure such awful lyrics for such a long time. As instruments go, the fast riff around the four minute mark piqued my interest, and the solo following that was the most interesting solo on the album so far, but beyond that... well the pounding drums in the intro were kind of interesting, but they only last for about twenty seconds before settling back into the same tired beat you had better get used to hearing a lot on the album. A lot of songs on "Death Magnetic" are like this, Metallica sounds like they'll do something new, but they'll quickly retreat into what they know will work, as if all the backlash from their previous albums killed any desire to try new things.

    Ah, they might as well have called this song "Two" (Get it, get it? Because it's basically One again and One plus One equals....ah, forget it). Since "The Day That Never Comes" is the forth song on a thrash Metallica album, it is legally obligated to be a slower, heavier song that ends in an awesome solo. With the exception of "Kill 'Em All", every other good Metallica album has followed this format, ("Fade To Black" on "Ride The Lightning", "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" on "Master of Puppets", "One" on "...And Justice For All" and "The Unforgiven" on "The Black Album"). It has all the trademarks of "One" as well, it's maybe about war (though Hetfield has said it could be about a father's relationship with his son, so take your pick), it starts slow and gets faster throughout, hell, they even use the same freaking "machine gun riff" at around 5:02. Then the solo starts, and, I have to admit it, I enjoyed it alot. It's not even in the same league as the solos from say, "Fade To Black" or "One", but its fast, its got complex parts, but the thing that annoys me about it is rather than, say, fade out or something, it kind of just ends. It's a little jarring, but overall, this is one of the album's better songs. How are the drums you ask? Bland and forgettable. How are the vocals? Passable, but compared to other slow and heavy Metallica songs, they are badly lacking. Whether they were thought provoking, "I was me, but now he's gone", "sleep my friend and you will see, the dream is my reality", filled with self-loathing, "the old man then prepares to die regretfully, the old man there is me", or just plain terrifying and child scaring, "Hold my breath as I pray for death, oh please God help me", the old heavy songs always had a line that stuck in my mind. This song is lacking in memorable lines, but it still has its moments in the instruments.

    Do you realize I've gone this whole review without mentioning the bass? Do you know why? Metallica still seems to think they are above putting in audible bass parts, but in "All Nightmare Long" someone must have said, "Hey, Robert Trujilo has been sitting around this whole time, hey Rob, want to do a bass intro?". The bass intro is pretty decent, it is no "For Whom The Bell Tolls", but its passable I suppose. The drums in the begining are kind of cool, a sort of sped up pounding in the vein of "Enter Sandman", but, of course, we're back to fairly standard beats for the majority of the song, but Ulrich busts out in little fills sometimes between Hetfield's growls of "Your luck runs out", which make this one of the few songs I enjoyed the drumming on. Lyrically simple, Hetfield promises to "Hunt you down without mercy", simple stuff for sure, but at least there is a pretty cool shout of "HUNT YOU DOWN WITHOUT MERCY!" near the end. The guitar is good, the riff is decent, but I really enjoyed the second solo in this song, especially near the end, around the six minute mark. Overall, a good track, maybe my favorite on the album.

    "Cyanide" is up next, starting with a bit of a chugging riff, before moving into Hetfield singing in his best crooning voice, "sleeeeeeep and dream of thiiiiiiis". He likes to make the middle of words drag on in this song, and while it's not annoying per say, for some reason I remember that immediatly when I come to write about the song. The main riff here is okay, reminds me of a bit of a sped up "King Nothing" (that could just be me though). Oh, here comes the solo, decent, okay, fine, you'll hear a bit of wa-wah pedal in there, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, and while it's nowhere near the best solo on the album, it isn't the worst either, leaving it as the most average solo on an average album. The album comes back to the chorus at its end, odd for a band that prefers to end with a solo, and to be honest, it sounds kind of tired to me, like they would have soloed, had they had the energy, but they just didn't. Cyanide is an okay track, but there are better ones on the album.

    Is....that.....a....piano? WHAAAAT? I'm not saying pianos aren't awesome for music, they certainly are, but Metallica? Anyway, after that bit of wierdness, we get a subdued bass and guitar intro (hooray, we can hear the bass again!), and "The Unforgiven III" kicks into full swing. The riff is pretty basic, though, to spice it up a little, Hammett uses his...get ready for it....WA-WAH PEDAL! Seriously, dude, I love your guitar playing, but you could try new effects every now and then. You can hear the bass line in the chorus, which automatically elevates this song in my mind because they were nice enough to include Rob in the mix. The song appears to be about a man who, "was pulled off course by the light of gold"..., wait, a person who abandoned his principles because of the lure of money...IS THIS SONG ABOUT METALLICA??!??!? I jest of course, but as the "Unforgiven Saga" goes, this is probably my second favorite, (I did NOT like "Unforgiven II" from Reload). Around the five minute mark, Hetfield starts pleading "Forgive me, Forgive me not" (which sounds he's begging towards the fickle attuitudes of fans towards Metallica's attempts to win them back, Boom!). Strings kick in around here for full dramatic effect and then a solo goes into effect, probably my second favorite solo on the album, even though near the end, our good friend the wa-wah pedal gets stomped into oblivion by Kirk, but since the note pattern is so entertaining, I'll let it slide.

    Next up, "The Judas Kiss", a track which I remember not liking terribly much. It's just forgettalbe, bland, uninteresting. The riff is generic, I can't even tell if it's taken from an older song, or just badly written, the drums...well we've covered the drums, and the bass has unfortunatly returned to being all but muted from the mix. The lyrics, ha! "Sell your soul to me, you don't exist, can't resist, the Juuuudas kiss-ah!". Not Hetfield's best and that is saying something from the man who wrote, "My lifestyle determines my deathstyle!". It's also eight minutes long, the longest track on the album so far, and it is not good when one of your longest tracks is the least interesting. The solo near the 4:30 mark, okay, it was pretty good, but it was not worth the four minute buildup that preceded it. And then, the outro is pretty good too, so if they had cut the unnecessary first four minutes off this song, it would have been much better.

    Here is "Suicide & Redemption", the album's return to intrumentals. There really hasn't been a decent Metallica instrumental since "To Live Is To Die" off "...And Justice For All". Here's the problem though, the best instrumentals in Metallica's history, "Orion", "Call of Ktulu", all of them featured awesome bass parts by Cliff Burton. Without a bass player that is allowed to be on the mix, really this song boils down to Hammett and Hetfield alternating riffs and solos. It is cool, but since the song is almost ten minutes long, it kind of drags for a bit. It saves the song that the guitar parts are very enjoyable, otherwise it would be a total waste of time.

    "My Apocalypse" comes in to end the album in style, fast drums, fast guitar, stupid lyrics, really everything good about this album mixed with a little of the bad. The chorus rings, "Suffer unto my apocalypse!", before returning us to the verses, in which Hetfield barks out a laundry list of injuries and devestation over Hammett's fast chugging riff. A solo comes in around the 2:30 mark that reminds me so much of the "Kill 'Em All" days that it makes me like this track even more, fast, filled with a lot of notes, and played with a frantic presicion, it is awesome. This track really recalls Metallica at their best, so that's probably why the album ends with it, as they want to leave the listener thinking of the vintage Metallica that they know and love.


    I once read a forum poster's sig that said "The Day That Never Comes was written about a Metallica song ever being good again". It was quite chuckle-worthy, but ultimately, it is incorrect. Metallica has written a few decent songs on this album, but the problem is, from a band who has given us some of the best thrash albums of all time, we expect more then a few good songs. This album is nowhere near as terrible as St. Anger, but at best, it is only above the three latest albums in terms of quality. Die-hard Metallica fans will want it so their collection is complete, and there are some worthwhile singles to get, but at the end of the day, Death Magnetic proves that Metallica is a long way off from the forgiveness they seek.

    Final Score: 5.5/10

    tl:dr Version: Old school thrashers slap together an album with songs made of their old songs, some work, most don't.

    If You Aren't Going To Get The Whole Album, At Least Get One Of These: The Day That Never Comes, All Nightmare Long, The Unforgiven III, My Apocalypse.
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