Death Magnetic

This time of year, I always end up listening to Metallica‘s Death Magnetic many times over.  I’m not usually huge into metal (in this case, thrash) though I’ve been known to dabble.


My favorite track on the album is “All Nightmare Long.”  It opens with an ominous little middle-pickup riff reminiscent of “Enter Sandman” from Metallica. As Kirk noodles along, the rest of the band punctuates notes of the riff with power chords and crash cymbals.  The song then hurls itself into a thrash riff, similar to “Blackened,” the leadoff track of my personal favorite, …And Justice For All.  Backbeats of snare hits and china cymbals ground the riff while giving an upstroke feel.  Makes me think of a feral cat being picked up by the scruff of its neck.

Hetfield‘s vocals sound just as good in 2009 as they did in the 80s.  You can hear his emotion in the timbre of his voice.  He packs emotion in his words as the lyrics writhe around the structure of the song, like ivy crawling up the side of a dilapidated house.

Best part of the song, for sure, is the break before the last chorus.  A nice little pause in the song, it perks up the listener and gives their bloodied eardrums a sort of control for the song.  You forget how hard Metallica rock until they stop rocking.  The best part of this pause, though, (and transitively, the best part of the song) is the fact that they left Hetfield’s breath in right before the last chorus.  That makes it real.  Listen closely.  You can hear him sucking in air like some dopey-faced baboon drowning man, desperate for life.  Then the band hurls into the final chorus, and Hetfield’s vocal soars above the track.  It’s different than all the other choruses.  You can hear the strain in his throat as he goes through the last chorus.  You hear the strain come through the music.

Damn good track.

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