Metallica Review - Magnetic Firestorm.
Many have awaited Metallica’s latest album, from younger metalheads to fans of their work since the early days. Originally emerging under the different genre of ska, they’ve become slower and less interesting over time.
Choosing not to sing about rebellion, and deciding to make vaguely dark lovecraft/cowboy songs ever since - metallica have been on a shakey highway. In addition was their process of lying, after what they claimed would be their last single: “permanently fading into black” turned out only to be a publicity stunt; this has led other fans to question whether the death of their bassist, Cliff Entwhistle, or drummer Stubby Peeps, was truly a bizarre gardening accident.
Despite this, the shaky reception of their previous album under the confusing neologism ‘stanger’ (believed by many to be a bastardisation of the word “strangler”. The story goes that James Hetfield wrote the word down on a cocktail napkin underneath the heading ‘ALBUM NAYM:’ to his producer which went into production unquestioned), die-hard fans have chosen to keep an open mind for the release of their new album.
The album cover is particularly striking - as it features simply a picture of Lars Ulrich on the toilet while surrounded by bananas. This use of modern art was particularly daring - but perhaps too daring!
The first song, called “Kill All Of Them” is an attempt to win over particular demographics by saying they want to kill their rivals. This can be quite confusing, as their message is confused by trying to appeal to as many different types of people as possible. But the chorus:
“Kill all the blacks,
Kill all the blacks,
I just want to kill all the blacks,
And women, transsexuals, Canadians and one clown”
Has led the album to receive criticism by proponents of racial equality. Rolling Stone said,
“I have 2 black friends, if either of them listened to metal they’d be livid”
The second song ‘The End of The Line’ is particularly interesting. Written in F# neopolitan minor, it is a nu-metal exploration of the graphology of graphs - a discipline in which lines - which must have ends due to the finite size of graph drawing material - really represent a continuum. The song aims to clear up this misunderstanding many younger maths students have. Cleverly, they made the drums inversely proportional to the vocals and the song works at a constant of ‘y = 2x - yh’ where y = bass, x = guitar and h = Hetfield. This is clearly the use of clever meta humour (or maybe metalhumour) on behalf of the band.
Their third song ‘Is There Love In Space?’ is where they really try to open up and be distinct and progressive. Keeping with the science that there is no sound in space as there isn’t enough atmosphere to act as a medium, this silent 5 minute prelude is well received, as it allows the listener to consider the previous songs for a while longer.
The penultimate song on this unusually short album is “My Apocalypse” an acoustic track written by Kirk Hammet. This song is partially autobiographical. It is about a rotating pirate ship ride Kirk used to go to when he was younger, which he has always wanted to go to on once more before he dies. However he knows everyone would laugh at him if he did - so the only conceivable circumstance in which he would go on the ride again would be if the world was ending and everyone would be suitably distracted so he could ride to his heart’s content without derision. The song explores the ambivalence he has towards a potential end of days.
The last song “The Land Of Green Ginger” is a song named after the Borough in which new bassist Robert Trujillo grew up - it incorporates off beat timing and harmonies on the fifth by childhood friend Gerard Whey. As heart warming as the song is - 6 solos is a bit extreme, since this only allows time for one verse and one chorus.
Overall I think Metallica have created a positive tour de force. Bringing back older elements (James Hetfield brings back his trombone for the third track) and newer (the first song changes chords about twice in the whole song) - this album has something for everyone.