This is exactly the record Metallica needed to make in 2008. Real metal's back, and sure, younger bands have rage and technical aptitude on their side, but Metallica's riffs can level skyscrapers.

Opening trilogy "That Was Just Your Life," "The End of the Line" and "Broken, Beat & Scarred" combine furious classic-years thrash with the hard-rock stomp of Load and Reload, showcasing savage Kirk Hammett solos, surprisingly disciplined vocals (James Hetfield's no longer deliberately going off-key, as he did on St. Anger)—and, hey!—Lars Ulrich's drums sound like drums again!

Some songs are eight minutes long when five would have done the job, and "The Unforgiven III" breaks the flow with piano and strings, but overall, Death Magnetic is a ferocious return to form.

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Phil Freeman
Contact: Phil Freeman