It’s Rocktober 1st. Rocktoberfest is coming up on the 18th (if you don’t know what that it is, consider it a pity you’re not invited). I’ve bided my time. I’ve read Tad’s “words” if you can call ’em that and I’m ready to weigh in.
So what do I think of Metallica’s Death Magnetic?
Though the internet is frequently derided as the home of indie/hipster types (I’ve been called a hipster for voicing my opinion – also an objective fact – that Journey sucks; I include this just so you have some sort of criteria upon which to judge me), it is full of people who will gladly call you a fag in a tirade replete with misspelled words if you happen to suggest either of the following: 1) Metallica sucks or 2) Guns ‘n’ Roses sucks, and Chinese Democracy is more likely to end the world than the Large Hadron Collider (how, you ask? Why, it will create a massive black hole of Utter Suckitude that will pull the entirety of the universe into it; I think Stephen Hawking has published articles on this). Stop by any given music thread on Fark if you don’t believe me.
So I might be incurring the wrath of these internet Metallica-lovers by saying so, but the fact is, Death Magnetic is not only awful, it’s frequently unintentionally hilarious. These are grown men singing about “death,” “darkness,” “blackness,” and things shouting things like “We! Die! Hard!” (clearly a reference to the fact that you get a stiffy when Rigor Mortis sets in). It’s like watching a Wes Craven movie. No one with half a brain is frightened by Wes Craven movies, just as no one with half a brain believes the spolied millionaires in Metallica are really the tortured souls they’re trying to portray on Douche Bagnetic. This shit should be dark and broody, and all that, but the fact is, Metallica is less compelling as a metal band than Dethklok. When you’re getting your ass kicked by a joke cartoon band, it’s time to hang it up.
James Hetfield, as ever, is a histrionic mess on Death Magnetic. I’m guessing that’s supposed to be cathartic for metalheads or whatever, but it sounds ridiculous. When he shrieks “This I swear!” on “The Day That Never Comes”, I feel like he should be a villain in one of the Joel Schumacher Batman movies. Hetfield’s villain name could be The Nightmare and he could make puns about death and blackness while singing about hunting Batman down “All Nightmare Long.” Sounds more than a little plausible, doesn’t it? Fortunately, the Batman movie franchise is now in the much safer hands of Christopher Nolan.
Unfortunately, Metallica is still a band. There’s a place for brooding on mortality in song, don’t get me wrong. I See a Darkness is one of the finest (and most cripplingly depressing) meditations on love and death (mostly death) I’ve ever heard. But the difference between Will Oldham and Metallica is that I See a Darkness convinces the listener that this is what was on Oldham’s mind at the time, that he’d actually sat down and thought about this shit. Death Magnetic convinces me that Metallica had a meeting where they pulled metal tropes out of hat and said, “Ooh… that would be cool in a song. Like, what if we badly paraphrase Nietzsche and then scream ‘We! Die! Hard! at the end? That would tight, dog.” You see the difference? It’s not merely the subject matter that’s the problem here – it’s the assholes delivering it.
Death Magnetic runs rampant with examples of Metallica’s painful suck – on “Cyanide,” Hetfield drops this turd nugget: “Suicide/ I’ve already died” See what he did there? He rhymed “Suicide” and “died.” And then says “Cynaide/ dead inside.” Point being, this fucker cannot write. There is not one song on Death Magnetic equal in awesomeness or quality to Lordi’s “Devil’s a Loser.” Not one. There is also not one song shorter than five minutes on this album; Metallica has to allow for Kirk Hammett’s noodly, wah-drenched solos (I was hanging out w/ Radio America after their gig at the Viper Room a couple of weeks ago and Tom Stuart brougth up a salient point. When it comes to using a wah-wah pedal, you have to ask yourself one question: “Are you Jimi Hendrix? If the answer is ‘yes,’ then you can use a wah-wah pedal.”). At a certain point, you have to admit Hammett is an accomplished musician, technically speaking. At a cetain other point, you realize that pretty much makes him the Kenny G of the guitar. Knowing a lot of notes and being awesome at playing notes are two drastically different things.
Of course, the elephant in the room here (the bloated, corporate elephant of cock-rock excess) is “The Unforgiven 3.” On paper, this is just fucking stupid. On record, it’s shameless. Especially when Douche-tallica eases you into the song by ripping off Richard Wright’s (rest in peace) awesome keyboard lick from “Comfortably Numb.” Yes, Metallica has resorted to putting bits from great songs in their shitty songs. The result is an aneurysm-inducing failure of epic proportions. We find out in “The Unforgiven 3” that, according to Hetfield “It’s me I can’t forgive.” I can’t forgive you either, James. Go fuck yourself.
At the end of the day, if you’re like Tad the K-ROQ intern (who was recently found dead, by the way, stabbed repeatly by a shiv made from what appears to have been a broken and/or twisted Red Bull can; contrary to popular belief, I was not at the scene of the crime but in my office listening to the new TV on the Radio album), you’re gonna love Death Magnetic and hate my guts for pointing out that it sucks so hard that it makes me laugh. If you’re like me (a devilishly handsome person with dignity and taste), you probably haven’t even trifled with Death Magnetic. In that case, you might be wondering why I even subjected myself to such torture; I can only answer that my best friend is paying me twenty bucks to sit through Beverly Hills Chihuahua next weekend, so it might have something to do with a masochistic streak buried none-too-deeply under the surface. Whatever. Go look up “Devil’s a Loser” on YouTube.