Metallica Previews New Songs To Classic Rock Magazine


June 4, 2008

Classic Rock was among a select band of rock journalists to hear a taster from the new Metallica album today. At present untitled, the band’s new record has been nicknamed by management “Nine epics and one song”. We heard six of ’em – unmixed and all unnamed (we guess at some of the titles in our track by track, below).

Classic Rock was one of the few magazines to give the band’s last album, St. Anger, a bad review on its release, Philip Wilding giving it 2/5. “It’s unfettered hell-for-leather nonsense pretty much from beginning to end,” he wrote. “Forget nuance or gravitas – or Metallica, for that matter – this is latter-day heavy metal pulverised into a risible mush that owes as much to rock music’s deviation in the last three years, as to the credible legend that Metallica have built and cultivated since the early 80s.

“This, you reason, must be the sound of a mid-life crisis…”

The following year’s documentary Some Kind Of Monster let fans see exactly that – the creative and personal meltdown that occurred during the creative process.

So is the new album the sound of conquering heroes? Or just the sound of some multi-millionaires with a franchise to exploit? Does it try too hard to please – or is it the sound of a band who know they’ve got everything to prove and the year is their’s for the taking?

Maybe it’s the one multi-million-selling triumph that will actually get some radio airplay without resorting to Chili Peppers-style bland-outs. Maybe it’s a re-hash of former glories. Maybe it’s too little too late. Or maybe it’s some metal masters showing the young pretenders how to do it (with riffs and solos and, y’know, singing – not growling).

Are the lyrics the work of a middle-aged doofus with a rhyming dictionary? Or are they the work of thrash titans who’ve found a voice and created fittingly intense music for these intense times?

The jury is out until we can spend some quality time with the album. Until then, this is what we heard…

Track one – (working title ‘Flamingo’)

Opens with a lightly chorus guitar riff, slightly reminiscent of Sandman, a hugely long intro before a gruff, Hetfield patented “three four” breaks down into a Slayer-ish thrashy riff barrage.

The drum sound is infinitely better than St Anger. Includes a serious wah-wah breakdown and several, distinct melodic chorus refrains. Could be a good radio bet – there’s no mistaking that it’s a Metallica song.

Which is more than could be said of St Anger. Back in the early 00s, of course, Nu Metal producer/overlord Ross Robinson famously banned guitar solos from albums by the likes of Slipknot. That Metallica – metal’s biggest band – seemed to toe the line with this philosophy in order to win the kids over beggared belief.

The good news? The guitar solos are back. With a vengeance. Hammett has been let back off the leash – this track even sees him breaking open the whammy pedal again for a spot of Tom Morello-esque tomfoolery.

Its false ending even fooled the guy from management who has heard it several times before!

Track two – (aka The Single)

It’s an eight-minute behemoth. Intro has elements of techno metal, vaguely reminiscent of Queensryche’s Silent Lucidity clean picked guitar sound (think Martha & the Muffins’ Echo Beach on downers).

It’s a Metallica power ballad – whoever thought a Met song would ever feature the line ‘Love is a four-letter word’? – and it follows more traditional lines than their previous forays into balladry.

Just when you think it might be a little meandering, The Single breaks down with a Battery-style riff and Hammett and Hetfield let rip with a twin-guitar Thin Lizzy-style solo. Nice.

The solo doesn’t stop there, Hammett takes centre stage and ramps it up with a very technical, Iron Maiden fret melting solo.

Track three (suggested title: ‘Scars’ or ‘We Die Hard’)

A take-no-prisoners bludgeoner, with its repeated refrain of ‘What won’t kill you makes you more strong’. Is this the sound of Metallica reacting to their troubles of recent years (St A’s bad reception and their struggles documented on Some Kind Of Monster)? “You rise, you fall, you’re down and you rise again”. Features a very abstract Hammett solo.

Track four (suggested title: ‘The Judas Kiss’ or ‘Bow Down’)

‘When you think it’s all said and done/Sell your soul to me/Bow down to me/I will set you free.’ Hetfield takes on the role of an alter-ego demon in this monster Maiden-esque bruiser.

Lots of traditional Metallica stoppy-starty stuff, wrapped around Lars’ military tattoo-style drum work.

Track five (suggested title: ‘To End This War’)

Opens with a clean rolling bassline (with a slight Motley Crue Dr Feelgood vibe to it?). Lot more of Trujillo on this record, with some sneaky fills/solo bass stuff.

Breaks down into a old-school chuggy riff. It’s sorta Iron Maiden meets Born To Be Wild. Massive guitars.

Then, after an extended instumental break a new mid-paced melody appears over the top of more clean guitar section.

Hammett is keeping up with OTT solos, and there’s more dual soloing between him and Hetfield than there has been for a while (shades of Lizzy, maybe UFO).

Track six (‘The Song’ says the management guy. Suggested title: ‘Into The Crypt’ or ‘My Apocalypse’ or ‘Crossed That Line’)

The shortest song on the album, clocks in a about 6 minutes (the rest average at about 8 minutes apiece).

A Reign In Blood-style riff monster,it’s probably the most ‘catchy’, and submits to the most traditional verse/chorus/breakdown format, but there is an awful lot going on.

Big drums on this one, coupled with out-of-control, “mere mortals will never play this”-style soloing from Kirk.

Will Metallica reclaim their position as metal gods? We’ll see at the end of the summer – rumours are that the album will be out mid September.

Courtesy of