We had Slayer’s Repentless last September, Megadeth’s Dystopia in January, Anthrax’s For All Kings in February and now the fourth and final member of the Four Horsemen of Thrash Metal are contributing their efforts. Metallica’s tenth LP comes eight years after their highly successful return to their roots on 2008’s Death Magnetic. Stylistically, it was difficult to know what to expect or predict which specific direction Metallica would go this time around.
The first two singles, ‘Hardwired’ and ‘Moth Into Flame’, grew on me. At first the production appeared a little thin, the riffs were a bit simplistic and the tracks sounded too similar. But I grew to appreciate the thrash rootsiness of these tracks. With over an hour of material on this new record, there was bound to be some variation on the deeper cuts.
Most of these tracks are a stylistic combination of their 80s and 90s output. The production was handled by the band themselves along with Greg Fidelman – who the band have never worked with before – which does render the album’s sound rather unique in Metallica’s discography.
The track ‘Now That We’re Dead’ was a big highlight. It rocks hard and steadily and has some great lyrics about entering immortality in death. Some tracks were a bit slower and progressive or had some textural various such as ‘Halo on Fire’, ‘ManUNkind’, ‘Am I Savage?’ and ‘Murder One’. On the track ‘Atlas, Rise!’, Kirk Hammett even brings back his dreaded wah-wah pedal. The closing track, ‘Spit Out The Bone’, was also a highlight with its heavy fast riffs, it’s full and chaotic texture and – best of all – James Hetfield’s harsher vocals.
Overall, the main drawback of this LP was the slightly thin production and generally excessive similarity of the tracks which would leave first-time listeners of the album unimpressed. But with subsequent listens, these disadvantages become less prominent and lead to an impressive album.