Beyond Magnetic EP

Written by: MGA on 26/06/2012 10:04:53

Ah, Metallica. The seminal thrash band could teach a semester-long seminar on how to ostracise your fanbase and bastardize your sound, but that's all in the past. Metallica's last OG jean-jacket thrasher fans abandoned ship over ten years ago, and yet each new Metallica album gets trotted out as the one that is supposed to finally, finally, be the band's return to their roots.

After 2008's underwhelming "Death Magnetic" (let's just pretend "Lulu" doesn't exist), the band is now putting out four unreleased tracks recorded during the "Death Magnetic" sessions in the form of an EP called "Beyond Magnetic". Whether anyone ever really wanted to go beyond "Death Magnetic" is up for debate, but when one of the most important metal acts ever puts out anything, you're obligated to give it a listen.

If you're an OG jean-jacket thrasher and you're spinning "Beyond Magnetic" just to add even more fuel to your Metallica-hating fire, you're going to have to go back to "St. Anger". "Beyond Magnetic" is shockingly decent. It's actually pretty good. In fact, it's better than any of the songs that are on "Death Magnetic", which is strange but something to be explored by someone else.

If you can swallow the jagged pill that Metallica is never going to put out "Master of Puppets prt. II" and embrace the reality that most rational people accepted a long time ago, "Beyond Magnetic" is easily the band's best output in 20 years. Sure, James Hetfield's voice is shot and he can't do the growls he was once known for, but it's not like that's his fault. Why he's perpetually receiving damning endictment over normal vocal deterioration is petty and silly. The truth of the matter is that Hetfield's singing voice isn't bad. Sure, he hits some strange notes on "Rebel of Babylon", but overall he's honed a hooky singing voice that, if anything, is memorable.

Musically, all four tracks average about seven minutes, meaning they're the lengthy affairs we can remember from "Death Magnetic". But these make more sense, and they don't feel like they go on forever just to prove some point. The riffs are there, the solos are the exact same thing Kirk Hammett has been doing for 30 years, the methodical drumming is sufficiently Larsian (take that as you will), and the bass is totally inaudible: this is prototypical Metallica.

The one thing Metallica does deserve fault for are the lyrics. The lyrics are dumb way too often, as if the band's decision to start families and get clean has somehow hampered their ability to craft the refreshingly intelligent lyrics seen in their early work. Witness the first track "Hate Train": "Haaaate! Is a train! That thunders aimless through my head! And haaaate, is the fame! Stick to the wheel until I'm dead!" Master, master it is not.

Overall, Metallica crafted what has to be the most surprisingly good thrash record by one the original Big Four since Anthrax's "Worship Music". If you hate Metallica, this is not going to put you back on the bandwagon. But if your feeling toward the band was one of favor or even neutrality, it doesn't take much time to realize that the four tracks on "Beyond Magnetic" are decent if not better. And If I have to turn in my metal card to say that, so be it.


Download: Just a Bullet Away, Hell and Back
For the fans of: Anthrax, Slayer, Megadeth, Nuclear Assault
Listen: Facebook

Release Date 31.01.2012
Warner Bros

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