Like tornados back home in the city of Dallas (where Wal Mart would have the new Metallica today.... not the 16th), the actual threat of a hurricane is more of a nuisance than anything that makes me fear for my life. Actually, it meant I had no History class (or any class therefore) because classes were not held after noon. My History class is at noon. HA! That said, I'm assuming it's a lot more serious than last time as the eye may pass close by and thus we're actually taking measures like "Shelter-in-place" handouts and having to sign in if we're staying the weekend for Ike.
Coming in from Beaumont, TX my dad picked up some Jason's Deli sandwiches for me as well as other good foodstuffs (remember he's evacuating potential hurricane victims) so unlike other weekends where EVERYTHING IS CLOSED as long as I ration I should be fine.
You'll notice that my desktop is that of Pink Floyd's back catalogue, a frame of which image I got for free after buying 3 posters (A Clockwork Orange b&w freeze frame of the droogs coming to beat the old man adorns the middle of my wall, to its right Johnny Depp getting out of his red convertible from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and finally a smaller print of the Joker on a rainy city street with card and dagger in hand on the left). If you don't see my desktop image, congratulations you see the same thing I do with Mozilla. If I'm not able to see it soon, I may not dig this 1up format change too much.
In other Ye Olde Info:
- I know a lot of people say they're copying someone when they do the quickie updates at the end of their blog but to whoever did this first: fuck you, you didn't invent bullet points... so there.
- I've actually gotten quite decent at soft-touch pool shots (the one you play with balls.... ok that doesn't clear things up..... there's a green felt table but no water)
- They're having a Mario Kart Wii Tourney in the lobby; I thought it was Double Dashuntil I saw the Mii and their controllers because it looks exactly the same. Pretty sure the track they were playing on was rehashed.
- My lower abs should be better but the machine in the rec center for my upper abs: I can never get that fucking seat in the right position. And to hell with that one where you kneel and turn, someone's always on it. My biceps and triceps feel great but it's not like my arms were ever weak (I used to beat people twice my size at arm wrestling). I want sex appeal and the epitome of that is abs, or so the magazines I let dictate how high my self esteem should be tell me.
- Hopefully, I get to a decent party sometime soon. Taking the minimum amount of hours isn't really worth anything when all you do is sleep, study, eat, work out and watch youtube videos all day long.
- It's fun to hear my friend from Vidor get excited over the fact a hotel has a revolving door (he was in Fort Worth last weekend for band when our school played TCU). It's also humbling when I bitch about not being able to find a Best Buy up the street when he had to go to another city for such a thing where he lived. This college is somewhere inbetween our two extremes, in an isolated town but because of the fact there's a college in it, there is civilization to be found.
- I'm going to walk to the student center right now to my PO Box and hope there's an EGM in it.
- No dice. There was an ominous ghost town feeling and some telling wind on my way here, but EGM? Nope. There is this student center computer I'm typing from which is nice. Almost forgot to mention, does anywhere know if there's a high percentage Indian population in Houston or Lamar University? I know we're hosting people from those areas and I've been noticing a very sharp rise in the number of those of Indian descent. This could prove good source material for my Anthropology class so I'm happy about it.
- I still don't see my Pink Floyd awesomeness. I'm not diggin' it.
- I have a printer.... but not a USB cable :(
Death Magnetic Review (Youtube Stream through headphones)
Well I can't buy it at Wal Mart, so here's a review of what I'm hearing online.
Overall: Where St. Anger was widely denounced as complete garbage with only a few left to defend its finer moments such as yours truly (Reload is my least favorite album of all they've put out), this album as far as I can tell has fans more split. Dave Grohl says it's close to their greatest effort whereas several claim to just hate it. I'm somewhere in the middle of this split down the middle. I'm still not at a point where I see it competing with the greatness they once had, though it's the closest they've gotten in a decade or two which is exciting enough for such a huge act. On the other hand, why the haters even bother to still show up to the party is beyond me when they should have given up shortly after 1991. They all came to St. Anger crying "go back to your old form" and now that they've done that as best as they could considering James' voice, they want something newer which leads me to believe they still post on Metallica message boards specifically to feel superior to anyone remotely interested in what the band is currently doing.
How much of a nuisance they are aside however, there's the occassional hater with a brain and a valid point. Kirk Hammett does tend to abuse wah far too much in certain cases, as though it's a toy and not a musical supplement; for instance on the otherwise excellent "All Nightmare Long" it sounds more like he's trying to destroy his amp than elevate the intensity of the song. On the other hand, when he uses it properly he can get some epic results as seen in the solo on "Unforgiven 3", which is the most hated track so far but one of my favorites. It has piano and some of the most melody seen on the album which, let's face it as much as I defend the genre and its supporters as far more open and intelligent than people accept, it's not that hard to figure out why some metalheads hate it so much considering these factors. Luckily, when he cleans up his sound, like on intstrumental "Suicide & Redemption", the beautiful noises that form are worth every second of the crybaby crap the listener suffers. I swear the hypothalamus tech I described last blog is in Kirk's wah pedal somewhere.
Another gripe of theirs that I share is that the drums are just slightly too loud. I appreciate how well Lars accents the riffs, and it works well with the arrangements on the album but how present they are implies a bit too much ego on his part, or maybe the sound engineer just really likes drums. And of course, another valid gripe is that James, in his 40s, has a relatively bad case of "dying cat vocals" at less impressive moments.
As for the gripe I've been hearing that just isn't true: I know the haters noted, as I did, how much of an obvious homage to ... And Justice For All this entire record is (I don't think "That Was Just Your Life", "The Day that Never Comes", and "Suicide & Redemption" could try any harder to be "Blackened", "One", and "To Live is to Die"respectively) but unlike that classic, this album DOES HAVE BASS. That a Rolling Stone editor called it "nearly inaudible" is one of the many reasons I consider some of their contributions such epic failures. There's a reason metal records in the 70s came with a label saying "Meant to be played loud". Turn your stereo up, and if you hear a slightly twangy noise underlying the guitar riffs, well guess what that's called Rolling Stone? Jackasses, I swear... also if you follow my link to Dave Grohl's interview there's a funny tidbit on how Rob Trujillo learned the bass lines to the former effort.
Play by Play:
That Was Just Your Life
Where previous albums would have a dramatic shift from beautiful Spanish guitars to powerful electric instrumentation, here we get an ominous riff leading into the fury. Personally, I think that method of introduction works just about as well, and is perhaps more sensible.
Once the fury starts we get something which sounds very similar to "Blackened", especially when Hetfield screams "I dennnyyy" in almost the exact tone he once claimed "neverrrr", but the break into the chorus nicely differentiates the two songs without hurting the quality of the track's power.
The first solo is a mix of too much wah and lovely homage to "Blackened"'s solo though too short too compete with that song's epic midsection, with the solo closer to the end doing much the same thing but with less brouhaha of loud overdrive which personally I appreciate.
Despite minor shortcomings it opens the album perfectly, immediately cluing you in to the vast amount of references to the past and modern decisions to mix things up that will come.
The End of the Line
Things only get better when a bouncy and memorable riff quickly enters the speakers and just about forces you to move your head if you have a pulse. When James' vocals come into play, you forget what their quality used to be and just get sucked into the intensity.
The shift into the chorus slows things down a bit into an almost Load/Reload era feel but it doesn't stop the return to the verse from providing its electrifying energy.
The solo break in the middle overstays its welcome a bit and it's the first offense of Kirk playing too much crybaby but at least he has sense to progress higher up the strings while he does it so we don't lose speed.
Then things actually do slow down and it's a far better way of building tension as James slowly increases volume saying "the slave becomes the master" until finally exploding back into that good ol' bouncy riff.
Broken, Beaten, and Scarred
The guitar introduction finds the first real placement of the "Eastern influenced riffs" Kirk hinted at before the album's release and is found just as well in the triplets that form the main riff.
Lyrics are a bit repetitive and redundant as we've all heard "what don't kill ya makes ya more strong before" but as with all old adages the delivery is what matters, and the power of such forgives the lack of originality. The chorus isn't as fun as the verse but serves the song well enough.
Kirk's solo starts out well enough but then plunges itself into a channel of "Power failure noise" which isn't as bad as I make it sound but once again fails to elevate the song.
We come back to the chorus and the fact the intensity hasn't died yet on the record is a good omen for a longtime Metallica fan indeed.
The Day that Never Comes
The beginning, starry acoustic guitar that opens the track as well as the calming electric solo is the best lead work by far on the album at this point and reminds us why some of Metallica's most famous songs are ballads.
When James' vocals kick in we're reminded of "Unforgiven II" especially with the chorus echoing that song's almost as much as "That Was Just Your Life" does in regards to "Blackened".
Personally, I think it's one of the most emotional tracks the band has released. The final "this I swear" Hetfield belts out is a bit anticlimactic but things get better when the song bursts into outro solo mode and... well basically Hammett reverses every noise he made on "One" and forms something ridiculously similar sounding. I guess you can't blame them for making even the new video pay tribute to that classic (both songs are based around military themes) seeing as how "One" was their first video, this is a return to form, yadda yadda yadda I still think "Fade to Black" is the best solo ever.
All Nightmare Long
The same ominous twangy guitar found in the intro is alluded to here as if to say, after the previous tracks' balladness, "we're back"! Hell, after an excellent bass pedal drum leading into the song Hetfield's yelling "1,2 Go!"
Another fun riff is unfortunately a bit bogged down with an attempt to build tension with tremolo picking and soft, ominous tones of speech but once it explodes into what is possibly the album's best chorus you're just about willing to forgive.
Thematically, it's akin to "Damage Inc.", as it describes the band hunting victims down once their luck runs out just as a steamroller crushed all in that classic closer to Master of Puppets. Once again, mixed feelings on the solo, this time it makes sense in context but yet again there's a bit too much abuse of the wah pedal. Once both solos have concluded, we're treated to a barreling rythym who's intensity once again leads us to that most excellent of choruses.
Outro and fin.
When I first heard this at the Dallas only Ozzfest where it debuted I had mixed feelings to say the least. The transition from the excellent verse riff to the slower chorus felt a bit uneven and since I didn't know the lyrics I wasn't singing over James' voice any more which made me realize it was still suffering from being shot over a decade ago.
I've gotten a bit more used to it, and it's grown on me as one of my favorites on the album because it sounds completely new (well, maybe a hint of Load era), has that eastern influence Kirk was talking about and the solo actually manages to do its duty of elevating the piece. At the solo's end we get this great harmony between Hetfield and Hammett's guitars which is quite rewarding and the drums for some reason finally feel like they're mixed at the right level. Perhaps because it's more beat-based and somewhat of a slower groove than previous tracks.
By the way I misheard a couple lyrics. "Your death clock rings" is actually "your death black wings" and "fuel" is actually "funeral" spoken fast.
Now this is the song that made me as excited for the album as I am now. "Cyanide" had a very new feel but I had mixed feelings, "The Day that Never Comes" was good but felt a bit old but this was just pure awesome on first listen, which is a bit odd in retrospect cause it's not the greatest of intros.
While I do like the sliding bass, the guitar's distortion initially is a bit too much dissonance for me. Riffs and verse are good but James sounds more country than ever which fit in the Load era but is a bit disorienting here and then "Bow down! Sell your soul to me!" kicks in and I'm ready to pick up my copy of this album already.
Eventually, I learned to appreciate what leads into that statement and the song then becomes one of the most infectious on the album.
The slow drum beat actually allows Kirk's wah abuse to make sense and it serves the solo as well as the song well in that regard and "Judas lives inside this vow, I've become your new god now" is one of the most powerful moments heard on the effort, and it helps that Kirk mostly manages to stay on a song-serving course until the next break where things once again slow down to build tension and of course lead back to the chorus once again.
The minute I heard the piano intro that begins the final song in a trilogy that started with one of my favorite songs of all time ("The Unforgiven") I knew I'd love it. That the vocals follow the guitars isn't so much static as it adds melody and we all know how much I love melody :)
It sounds like the very best of the Load era but better to me. Of course, to the hater's credit, it also means Hetfield's voice is more prominent when he's not being overpowered by guitars, which isn't always a good thing but it fits the song and the solo is by far the best thing Kirk has done with that goddamn wah pedal since the album began; thus tread towards song's end is less anticlimactic because of it.
Suicide and Redemption
Now this is a return to form. Driving bass beat throughout and plenty of tasty interruptions and time changes to keep things interesting enough until the midsection. Some of it starts to sound a bit like videogame music during the first extended guitar break which I have no problem with but do with that what you will.
Around the 3:50 mark halfway through it's... Kirk's soulful playing! Holy shit, I was wondering when that would make it through the wah barrier! It's one of the most peaceful, epic, and exciting parts of the album all at once. Reminds me why I was trying to imitate Kirk's style when I first picked up a guitar (which is why I'm so harsh on what he does on this album). At 5:30 we shut up all the idiots that claim there's no bass and somewhere around 6:25 another excellent solo followed by... oh goddamnit Kirk you... actually did something useful with the wah pedal this time. Bravo!
Ooh, drum solo, usually not a fan but breaks up the action quite nicely.
Given all this praise, I must say like the song it's trying to imitate ("To Live Is to Die") its main riff can get dull on occassion. However, it's one of the best rock instrumentals I've heard, and that's more than saying something.
This is Taylor Hawkins' (Foo Fighters) favorite song, because "it never stops". I disagree, the chorus stops everything quite abruptly. Also, it never really started for me cause the riff and overall sound just isn't very unique or endearing to me. However, once we get back to Kirk he's doing something pretty great which is always nice and I suppose the track IS relentlessly fast at most times.
At least it's short. It's not bad, it's just that I'm used to ending Metallica albums on notes of epic proportion like "Damage Inc" or godly instrumental "Call of Ktulu" so to me it's a bit of a letdown.
Overall, I still say thumbs way up for a leap in the right direction.
My final statement: You know I use to think the youtuber that said this was crazy but I'm starting to see it. The album art does look a bit like a vagina