I thought I’d help out the web, because on brief searching I can’t find any informative reviews for ‘tallica’s first single in 5 years.
If you don’t know, thrash metal’s (or more hard rock these days) premier name is putting out new album Death Magnetic on Sep 12, and yesterday they revealed The Day That Never Comes as the single, which seemingly is download only.
After the Black album (or inc. it if you weren’t won over by it), Metallica trod the blues rock, novelty album and the nu-metal route which no one really liked the taste of, so in changing producer and using their new bass player’s writing skills they’ve tried to deliver something that really recalls their 80’s catalogue, with a hint of Black album and something contemporary.
First on the checklist is the song length at over 7mins. Metallica often write long songs so this tradition remains unchanged. But here we’re greated with ballady arpeggiating guitars and gentle lead lines that recall Fade To Black/Sanitarium/One/The Unforgiven that then burst into Black album, or perhaps Load-y choruses. The latter half of the song is a series of attempts to rock out and it seems like they’re going down memory lane with hints of the One solo, Am I Evil, Motorbreath, and Kill ‘Em All stye solo-ing.
This is not the best thing Metallica have ever done, but this is the best thing they’ve done in a while and can do. And I like it because my expectation was met: Metallica will only play thrash metal live and that will be their back catalogue. Writing wise Black album as a spring board is acheievable, they know that and they’re mining it. Well done.
Some criticism now. Lars is not the same drummer he used to be. He may not be clanging a bin lid here like on ’03’s St. Anger album, but he’s still playing rather basic and tame. He was never the most gifted drummer in metal, but there was a time when he was very creative to make up for that (AJFA) and had the heavy drum sound to die for (Black). But at least he plays for the song and doesn’t contaminate it with over use of 2 kick drums like many young metal bands.
James also sounds more older and hippy-ish than ages ago. But hey, the guy’s 5 years away from 50. Give him a break. But he’s not goofy sounding like on St. Anger. Likewise Kirk is playing solos after having no real defining role on St. Anger.
As for Rob, he doesn’t stand out in this song – that would be Cyanide, at the moment – but his bass sounds good.
Also bare in mind the download version of the song will fortunately not be the same as the CD. An encoding error for the web resulted in some nasty clipping that a Mission Metallica personnel confirmed. I expect the quality on CD will be as easy on the ears as their Remember Tomorrow cover for a Kerrang Maiden tribute CD.
I’m not shelling out for the coffin box set, but I think within reason Death Magnetic will be the best album since Black album. Not better, not worse, but an antidote to St. Anger and the indulgent Load era. I think Metallica ‘get it’ again.