Steel Panther | Balls Out
Amazon | iTunes | (Universal Records)
As mission statements go, ‘Balls Out’s’ ‘In The Future’, a nonsensical post apocalyptic sci-fi parable (in the tradition of Orson Welles yucking it up with Manowar *) sets the tone with portentous Orwellian (the other one) dread: some nefarious lesbian space vixens have wiped out the universe’s XY essences, and The Panfs are back from space to do some conscientious impregnating in a generous effort to repopulate the universe.
Launching into the thundering Judas Priest bolter ‘Supersonic Sex Machine’, a robo-Real Doll marriage of Painkiller, Turbo Lover and Electric Eye, complete with immaculately ludicrous lyrical paeans to Rob Halford’s penchant for nonsensical cyber blather (‘I’m a cybersonic sexbot made of steel’ indeed), ‘Balls Out’ jams pedal firmly to metal for the ensuing forty five minutes. Providing ample shred support, six string prince Satchel, nee Russ Parrish (a Halford sideman from a more earnest decade) deploys a hangar load of bombastic widdly diddly ordnance in finest dive bomb NWOBHM dual axe duel tradition.
Tone well and truly set (and if you’ve got any doubts that the mixing board’s set to ‘gleefully puerile’, a quick scan of the track list should put any lingering doubts to rest), the Panther’s sophomore disc bulldozes a rampaging course through the musical mores and ‘thematic’ concerns of the ’80s: parties, pussy, and hefty narcotics bills. **.
‘Balls Out’ is a careening fourteen track romp through winking tip of the tongue riffery and cheeky nods to everyone from Van Halen (a given) through Mötley Crüe, Ratt, Cheap Trick, Whitesnake et al, with a generous tipping of the hat in the direction of the ‘W’ section of the ‘Sunset Strip Also Rans’ rolodex: Winger, White Lion and Warrant.
Particularly tasty swipes are reserved for Pommy poodle pop royals Def Leppard, who cop a thorough seeing to on sugary woo fest If You Really Love Me, and whose casual pomp misogyny cops a gleeful skewering on the headphones only ‘That’s What Girls Are For’. ***.
Meanwhile, Steve Tyler would no doubt cheerfully pawn whatever’s left of his credibility to have penned the profoundly movingl ‘Why Can’t You Trust Me (Baby)?’, which features a stereo frying bridge of Bruce Fairbairn via Michael Bay proportions, and the snaking Mick Mars shout outs on 17 Girls in a Row (which features the immortal couplet ‘wham to the bam to the thank you ma’am, then I praised the lord like Billy Graham’), embrace the lunkheaded broisms of The Crüe at their thickest.
Indeed, no smutty lyrical bon mot is left unmolested, and a full regiment of shameless single entendres are marched out, from the ‘gimme’ golf oriented punnery of ‘Just Like Tiger Woods’ to ‘Let Me Cum In’s’ leering Gene Simmons-esque linguistic butchery. ****
Elsewhere, you’ll gasp at the audacious venomous reptile PSA It Won’t Suck Itself, replete with hysterical lead boogie antics from the estimable Nuno Bettencourt (and a vocal cameo from, er, Chad Kroeger); ‘I Like Drugs’ gives self proclaimed ‘skinny Vince Neil’ lead singer Michael Starr to engage his Diamond Dave caterwaul to full effect, and yet another cautionary tale, the emotionally fraught ‘Gold Digging Whore’ throws in the hair metal kitchen sink trifecta: final chorus key change, 64 tracked cowbell and an awkwardly spelt out chant along refrain for the ages.
A giddy avalanche of ludicrously deft hooks, infectious harmonies, flashbomb theatrics and an embarrassment of dextrous chops, ‘Balls Out’ is a jubilant, swaggering homage to the tawdry majesty of the most maligned musical genre of all: a resounding five shockers out of five.
* In this case it’s a blessedly over synthesised narration from douche comic extraordinaire Mr Dane Cook. But maybe that’s the point?
** Being: Treacherous aspirational ladies (who’ll ‘do a gang bang with your friends’); testaments to being very good indeed at sex, the horrors of being denied said sexing, and techniques and strategies pertaining to the securing of non reproductive coupling (take your pick).
*** Track may also contain a solo referencing the fretwork of Vito Bratta. Fact.
**** If it’s euphemisms for onanism you’re after, this is your album: ‘burp the worm’ makes a triumphant return to the vernacular, for starters.
© 2011 Garth Jones
Further reading: Steel Panther and Genre Exceptionalism.
1.‘Pole Smoking Fashion Victims’
Why are vampires such ponces?
This is what vexes Jack Crow.
Alpha bastard protagonist of the unremittingly awful ‘John Carpenter’s Vampire$’, Jack is an disturbingly ardent commentator when it comes to the vampiric savoire faire.
Yep, when he’s not sucker punching the ladies (swoon!) or swapping smouldering homoerotic glares with the sweatiest Baldwin (Daniel), Jack, Vatican Vampire Slayer and Misogynist Extraordinaire, plays second rate (if there could feasibly be such a thing) Kyle Sandilands to a procession of disturbingly attired plasma quaffers.
Which is a hoot, really, considering Jack appears to be in possession of the second last pair of elastic waisted acid wash jeans in existence (more on them later, promise).
(Not to mention that his man-crush, and eventual Judas, greasy lard bucket Dan, sports a saucy nehru vest slash prodigous chest carpet combo.)
Fact is, Long before Jack’s fanged nemesis Valek (see ‘V’, Vampire Central Casting Guide, 1998) scrambled from ‘neath some unconsecrated bog, naff, style challenged creatures of the night proliferated.
Cinematically speaking, first out of the cemetery gate was Nosferatu’s cellar dwelling take on the Fu Manchu via clergyman look.
Sadly, Bela Lugosi, next cab off the Dracula rank, proved far more influential, being the progenitor of the the ludicrous tic (a quizzically arched eyebrow, nigh on seventy years before a certain Mr Dwayne Johnson), poncy cape flourish and relentless
The ‘dapper exsanguinator’ look stuck, unfortunately.
For decades, the coiff was the only facet of the vamp look open to interpretation. Christopher Lee added a spot of distinguished grey temple action to the mix; and even Blacula managed only a slight mini-fro and handlebar variation.
Then, along skulks Anne bloody (see that?) Rice, who inflicts the befanged zeigest with a penchant for bouncy Pantened bobs and flouncing about aristocratically in blouses.
Madam Rice, Early Onset Emily Strange that she was, engineered a disturbing trend- and not just the brooding, ‘woe is me’ introspection of those ‘damned to the eternal midnight’ bollocks.
Guffawing archly in the face of hairdressers’ livelihoods the world over, Rice unveiled the flaxen-locked Ritchie Blackmore variation; hair weaves were now de rigeur for the more follicularly challenged amongst the nightcrawler set.
Thus was born a bold, cranky new era in vampire style.
Where once a slicked back barnet would suffice, the undead were now free to indulge in an entirely new universe of tacky hairstyling options: enter the spiky mullet, the classic goth sweepback, various permutations of the Jedi topknot, and that perennial favorite, the Lionel Ritchie jheri curl.
With this bold unfettering of hairstyling parameters came a similar quantam shift in our immortal chums’ attitude to general sartorial presentation. Tired old evening wear and camp artifice were given the heave-ho in favour of exploring the full gamut of ocular nerve-combusting ‘contemporary’ fashion.
Of particular note are warbler Rick Springfield’s late ‘80s efforts, feebly essaying the role of testicularly compromised LAPD detective Nick Knight, who daringly combined THE last pair of acid washed high pants (see? Foreshadowing pays OFF!) in existence with a fetchingly tight gentlemen’s perm.
Then, along rolls Joel Schumacher, casually staking (yes, I know) further claim on the mantle of cinematic Anti-Christ, decks his Lost Boys out in oversize fluorescent happy pants, RATT bouffants and oily, bleached mullets. In a similar (gah) vein, Fran Rubel Kuzui’s crass cinematic misfire of St Joss Whedon’s ‘Buffy’ envisioned entirely unterrifying, web earred ex-90210 disasters, showcasing Rutger Hauer with a blonde, wispy kiddie fiddler’s mo.
Let’s not even mention Paul Reubens…
Of even greater social import than Joel Schumacher’s role in the continual reduction of cultural standards were the very real issues addressed by those poor blood guzzling homeless/soulless. Nomak (Blade 2) while surprisingly not shit (considering his boy band pedigree- he’s played by Luke Goss out of Bros), best exemplifies vampire ‘shabby chic’, while special mention must go to Preacher’s Cassidy, who possibly
IS the embalmed, ambulatory corpse of Shane MacGowan- enshrouded in denim, whisky vapors and toxic levels of Irishness.
The few remaining vamps, those exhibiting a modicum of self respect and general savoire faire, fall loosely into two camps.
First- those cheeky, rebellious Sid Vicious types, best exemplified by the brutal trailer park bastards in Near Dark or Spike from out of the aforementioned Whedon’s Buffy telly series. These scrappy fashionistas of the enhanced canine set are generally on intimate terms with the proprietor of the local leather clearing house; proponents of the look include the squishy, easy beat biker vamps of From Dusk Till Dawn, whose ranks, puzzlingly, include classic cinematic hard men of the calibre of Harvey Keitel, Danny Trejo and Fred Williamson.
On the fringe of this movement are the full blown fetishists- leather licking badarses of the ilk of Marvel Comics’ Morbius The Living Vampire, Wesley Snipes’ Blade, ‘The Master’, and Kate Beckinsale’s posterior in the dubious Underworld ‘trilogy’.
Then, and the numbers are thin to say the least, there are those brand savvy, metro vamps who generally populate Whedon’s ‘Buffyverse’ (apologies).All tasteful Armani and matching earth tones, they’re preening, hair fiddling nancy boys in extremis, generally conveniently heretofore-unmentioned twinks sired by metro-gene originator ‘Angel’, to whom the late ‘90s boom in nerd driven sales of swishy overcoats could definitely be attributed .
While Stephen Dorff’s Deacon Frost (Blade) slots firmly into the metro-vamp category, careful academic scrutiny has concluded that he is, in fact, just a big girl.
So: it would be safe to say that, given his druthers, Mr Jack Crow would cheerfully cold cock, berate and rudely castigate his way through legion upon legion of immortal types, gruffly dispensing dubious advice on how best to maintain troublesome bleach-dried hair, remove those pesky blood stains from pirate shirts, or efficiently tuck that package when slipping into some pre-talced leather strides.
Queer Eye For The Undead Guy, anyone?
2. ‘Music to Set Fires By’
Corrosion of Conformity (‘COC’ to terrified Marketing Departments everywhere) were a ragged agit-prop hardcore band who released albums with names like Animosity, Eye for an Eye and Technocracy in the mid to late ‘80s.
The band’s core members included shock haired guitarist/ vocalist Woody Weatherman (he showed up on Dave Grohl’s 2004 Probot project, metal junior schoolers), ‘quiet one’ bassist Mike Dean, and more credible than thou drummer Reed Mullin, who has one of the best stoner rock names ever conceived.
Around abouts 1991, with music’s tide turning irrevocably towards the navel gazing personal politics of the grunge era, the band drafted guitar belter Pepper Keenan, a NolAnative, and Swedish throat shredder Karl Agell for vocals duties. Discarding the surging proto punk clatter of their previous releases, the band synthesised a serrated, groove driven thrash sound, primarily conceived by new kid Keenan, which repackaged and streamlined the band’s righteous, socially aware anthems for a new, wider audience.
The first part of an unofficial trilogy of classic albums confronting universal socio-political issues, 1991’s Blind would easily rank in any boffin’s ‘Top Five Metal Albums What Deal With Politics’, competing with the similarly choleric ‘Master of Puppets’, ‘And Justice for All’ (Metallica) and Megadeth’s late ‘80s output.
Prison for praise is not worth thinking
Sin is still in and our ballots are shrinking
So unleash the dogs - the only solution
Forgive and forget, fuck no
I’m talking about a revolution
Clamping down tight on the listener’s jugular, Blind stampedes through a blistering cavalcade of incendiary, apoplectic anthems targeting racism, the first Iraq war and the Police State. Blind finds its core in Keenan’s debut vocal performance, ‘Vote With A Bullet’, a grating polemic that opened a generation of parking lot kids’ eyes to the urgent world of politics.
With Keenan serving as the band’s default leader, Agell was ousted (he went on to form inconsequential party metal band Leadfoot wth ex-COC bassist Phil Swisher; sample lyric- ‘If you won’t go down on me- someone else WILL- GEETAR!!’), and the band rallied, re-recruiting bassist Mike Dean and recording 1994’s Deliverance.
Separate by class but keep the middle low
Instill the order with a border just for show
Give them weapons and let them have their piece of mind
Then tip them off so they can kill whats not their kind
Venturing into swinging, boogie infused territory borne of Keenan’s home state, Deliverance embraced social justice issues, raging against the class war and spitting in the eye of the ‘Pearls Before Swine’ ethic of the socially priveliged. Reaffirming the power of the disenfrachised with (the ironically) Skynyrd inspired anthems like ‘My Grain’ and ‘Shake Like You’, these were soundtracks to get some dissidence done to, backed by wailing, siren-like walls of harmonised, anguished guitar.
In a year that delivered the shiny pose of Green Day’s ‘Dookie’, the banal Dad rock of Hootie & the Blowfish, and Pearl Jam’s preposterous ‘Vitalogy’, Deliverance was a rude call to arms for disaffected generations past, present and future.
1996 brought with it the third album in the cycle, the rollicking Wiseblood, which turned out to be a deft summation of the Corrosion of Conformity Mission Statement.
Bolting out of the gates with a charge of feedback static, Wiseblood swaggers righteously into the murky waters of government propaganda, corporate malfeasance, theocracies and the suburban malaise.
There’s a man who watches over me
There’s a man where I used to be
Mr. Tambourine play one more song for me
‘Cause I gotta leave, I lost what I believed…
Lucid and savage, Wiseblood is an album of distilled vitriole, exploring universal themes with a clarity of intent usually attributed to your Braggs and Dylans. Completely devoid of the theatrics of Megadeth’s holocaust fantasies, or the second hand gravitas of Metallica’s battleground pastiches, Wiseblood’s raw lyricism stabs at the dirty, rotten heart of global injustice.
Somewhere along the way, the rebellious, institution baiting spirit of rock and roll was coopted by the poseurs and the marketing execs; the underdog’s howl and the stiletto threat of society’s underbelly was diluted into pale cartoons: miserable, self indulgent music calculated to mollify, another arm
of the marketing division.
These albums reaffirm the sneering politics at the heart of good rock music, embodying the wounded disaffection of the ‘ordinary guy’ shaking his fist at a machine he can never hope to overcome.
The power inherent in these albums, this music, is in their calls to arms: the individual and collective experience of music serving as a catalyst for education and political mobilisation.
They start fires in disaffected bellies and inspire us to maintain the rage.
3. ‘Insert Mayan Calendar Joke Here: New Gn’R Album In The Works?’
Alleged Guns N’ Roses guitarist and probable Mick Mars love child DJ Ashba has insinuated that the band could soon be venturing back into the studio.
Ashba, whose chequered resume includes stints in Bulletboys, Beautiful Creatures and Sixx : AM, dropped news of the follow up to 2008’s sceptically received ‘Chinese Democracy’ project at the red carpet launch of special operations porn/ video game ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops’.
Optimistically, the guitarist, one of three on the Rose Inc. payroll at present, indicated that the band (read: Axl) “(have) been throwing around a bunch of ideas… and it should be good”. Ashba declined to suggest a timeline for the album’s completion, sending Hollywood recording studio rental prices soaring.
The tribute band, whose present lineup could best be described as ‘bloated’, have been infuriating audiences across the planet for the best part of two years, and are threatening to tour the US after they return from their Australian V8 Supercar Championship commitments in early December.
Meanwhile, actual GN’R guitarist Slash picked up the awkwardly titled ‘Marshall Classic Rock Roll of Honour Album of the Year’ award this evening at London’s Roundhouse, further consolidating the ubiquitous icon’s stranglehold on the hearts
and minds of double denim enthusiasts globally.
Guns N’ Roses have sold around 100 million albums worldwide, roughly five million of which were ‘Chinese Democracy’.
4. ‘ Scott Weiland: Confounding.’
Poor, impressionable, blank-slatey poseur Scott: ultimate post-everything ‘rocker’, undiscriminating blender of trite,
haphazardly appropriated personae, a rocker for the postmodern era completely embracing his ironic lack of self reflexivity.
First derided as a less earnest Eddie Vedder (years before our leather-chapped Bible thumping chum Scott Stapp), Mr Weiland, fit in hand, spent a good slab of the last decade roving haphazardly through rawk history, emulating a spidery ululation of Mr Steven Tyler here, copping a glittery chapter or two out of Mr Bowie’s well thumbed user’s manual there.
Christ, he even went off on, of all people, a pseudo-Layne Staley riff for a while there.
(He and Mr Brownstone are on enthusiastic terms.)
Then, in a move that beggars even my quite malleable belief, 3/5ths of the original Guns ‘n Roses decided Mr Weiland, soul of emotional stability and master of his myriad demons, was the logical replacement for professional hermit and electronica enthusiast W Axl (A man who decided he wanted to be Trent Reznor six or seven years prior).
So now we, beleaguered fans of electronically amplified guitaros that we are, are forced to bear witness to Mr Weiland’s pasty, Victor Salva-moist fantasy reinterpretation of the works of Iggy Pop, with a liberal wad of Mick Jagger senior-cit sleaziness thrown in for good measure.
And then, of course, there’s this:
The Palace, late 2008
Actually getting into The Palace is a little like getting into Camp X-Ray- a lot of humourless dudes with the totalitarian air of Homeland Security, DMZs and Mexican border crossings about them go about
the very serious business of divesting cheerful, semi-buzzed and cheerfully stoned metal types of their tribal raiments.
Lemmy help anyone who attempts to smuggle a wallet chain or the de rigueur studded metal belt through the checkpoint.
Having cleared the comically tight security, our worst suspicions are confirmed- the inner sanctum swells with good natured throngs of drainpipe jean and tour-shirt clad music fans, clearly up to the suspicious business of enjoying the gig.
Eschewing a support band (in hindsight: who would dare? Although the guileless optimist in me prayed for an opening set from COC, secreted into the country under cover of popular indifference), we’re instead presented with a handy Down Primer; around ninety or so minutes of documentary cliff notes from the road, interspersed with a genealogical exploration of the band’s forebears. “And lo, Black Sabbath begat Thin Lizzy, who begat Metallica, who”… and so on.
And then, at the hour of ten, the rumbling sonic portents and low, subliminal harbingers coalesce- the shared euphoria becomes audible, then almost tangible, and Down take the stage with a surging, blast furnace majesty.
There’s potential black majick, some good bayou vudu, in the ether.
The good Reverend Anselmo, once the very embodiment of the aggro agent provocateur, has traded his hulking skinhead volatility with swamp thing shaman-like intensity. He’s a cajoling big brother to the seething mosh, a good natured drill sergeant stalking his stage with low, dark humour, driven by a reinvigorated mission statement: uplift and redemption.
Anselmo’s vocals are ragged, soaked in anguished catharsis, having buried the arid, opiate heart that drove Pantera’s darkest moments somewhere deep and hallowed.
Guitar bro Pepper Keenan is all inestimable southern cool, a casual six string hero- Doc Holliday with an ESP endorsement; in league with the mighty Kirk (Crowbar) Windstein, an indecipherable slab of man who plays like he’s plugged directly into his own nervous system, the duo dispense sledgehammer
harmonies, keening and overdriven- all rising, crashing drama and washes of greasy feedback squeal.
Spidery Texan bass-man Rex Brown (nee ‘Rocker’) is never far from a heroic looking spliff, and channels the loose limbed, head-banded, monitor machine gunning spirit of all those sour mash fueled, Confederate flag shrouded heroes of yore; his rhythmic cohort, shotgun Jimmy Bower (another hulking Crowbar expat), propels the seething maelstrom with brain rattling, fundament loosening intensity.
Our rapturous tribe is subjected to exhaustive readings from all three books of Down; the music, like its drowned spiritual home, is all about the swing, the gut and the heart; liquid movements of sound swell and ebb, slabs of rising tidal force rendered sonic.
The band thunder through tumultuous, visceral takes on ‘Losing All’, ‘3 Suns & 1 Star’, ‘Bury Me In Smoke’, ‘Temptation’s Wings’; they add mordant, cataclysmic urgency to the second album’s occasionally derided sheen- you can feel the tar of history all over the groove-dirge that is ‘New Orleans Is A Dying Whore’, and ‘Ghosts Along The Mississippi’ thrums and roars with the boiling, scabrous grandeur it always
It’s a loose, monolithic set, a little ragged at the edges, and sprawling at times.
Much of the night is spent in celebration of the lives of the lost- ‘Lifer’ is a vital, barnstorming eulogy to Dimebag, almost four years gone. Layne Staley’s ghost is disturbed as Anselmo reclaims the grueling, cautionary blues lament of ‘Learn From This Mistake’ with the grit and purpose of bitter experience.
Putting the lie to the histrionic security measures, the set’s emotional peak is reached with the light and shade of ‘Stone the Crow’, ‘Freebird’ for the underground, which is delivered in a completely uncontrived air of singalong catharsis, a redemptive, communal experience symbolic of the night’s celebratory nature.
Indeed, there’s plenty of cheerful bonhomie on display, and when the dread ‘technical difficulties’ impede, the band exhibit admirable good humour.
Between Windstein’s clowning hijinks and constant threats of pants removal (you had to be there, clearly), Anselmo’s long, weed driven riffs and Pepper’s endearing, doomed attempts to keep the Aussie flag aloft, it turns out that a night with Down is very much like an audience with a fraternity (in the best possible sense) of lovable, beer chuggin’ good ole boys. There’s a palpable road warrior camaraderie on display, and they damn near lay waste to the crowd, encoring until well past the witching hour.
For an outfit rooted in so much blood and blackness, to all appearances Down seem to have outgrowncthe inherent nihilism of their name- tonight’s performance was about community, friends both absent and new, and the redemptive power of it all.
Funny about that, eh, security?
6. Short Reviews.
Young Heart Attack
‘Rock & Awe’
Young Heart Attack return with a completely remodelled engine block, but keep the impeccable paintwork intact, to labour the automotive analogy.
Alternatively: front people Jennifer Stephens and Chris Hodge, rock sass alchemy embodied, remain
in charge, while the rest of the lineup get their wings.
This is a mighty wall of concisely deployed pop, rock and roll, all about Blackhearts and Runaways on the large: a gutsy collection of stacked choruses and dive bombing hooks to make Pete Townshend proud.
YHA are possibly the finest riff rock revisionists to emerge since The Cherry Valence hung up their 8-track, and Rock and Awe is an album to savour now and then save for high summer joy rides and beer runs.
‘Saudades De Rock’
From the book of redundant reunions comes this latest entry- earnest Boston poodle riffsters Extreme, who, as anyone with a degree in Sunset Strip knows, are patently anything *but*.
Still- this is pompous hair metal frippery at its second tier Van Halen ‘best’- Gary Cherone still sounds like Sammy Hagar teabagging Freddie Mercury, fret teaser Nuno Bettencourt was better off in one of his three dozen solo projects, and the other two blokes seem to have spent the intervening years growing ironic afros and shopping for vests.
The songs are at least two choruses overlong, the harmonies are sixty four tracked to death, the solos recycled, and lyrically, Cherone still rates a solid C- in Hucknallesque platitudery and politically scatterbrained ‘protest’ dirges.
Still better than a million Winger, Warrant and Tuff reunions, but.
(That’s a textbook ‘qualified endorsement’, in case you were wondering.)
Hell City Glamours
Unpretentious gutter post code RSL steak night sleaze Oz Rock of the genus Rose Tatts, Angels and even the Candy bloody Harlots; the Hell City Glamours are the intersection in some red light district where Rose Tattoo, Keith Richards and Motley Crue meet up to compare smack habits and switchblade technique.
Tick the boxes: songs about loose women, frigid women and nights on the turps, replete with backdoor ‘metaphors’ and awash in loads of cowbell, chukka-chukka riffage and whoa-oh choruses.
Best served with bourbon, Coke, meths and the Tote.
Putting aside the obvious parallels with Jazz
Odysseys, Saucy Jack on Broadway and the like,
the Priest’s double disc concept behemoth actually, for the most part, WORKS.
Sure, Rob’s giving the old rhyming dictionary a bashing again (vindication/ provocation/ annihilation etc), and yep, there’s loads of portentously camp Hammer Horror church organ torturing and earnest, extended ‘atmospheric’ bits to go with the requisite widdly widdly twin guitar tomfoolery we expect from ‘evvy metal’s grand old ladies of geetar slinging, Glenn and KK.
But, dammit, it’s all just so bloody earnest it’s hard not to love it for its sheer, irony free, cherry red leather kecked, none more metal audacity.
Somewhat inevitably for a band of its vintage, this plays like a bit of a compendium of their best stuff- but Death Magnetic is precision engineered to remind you of those Metallica lads’ long dormant capabilities.
Referencing the groove oriented songsmithery
of the overall misfire that was the Load/ ReLoad era, Death Magnetic eschews the spit and polish of the Black Album and locks into a vicious cycle of epic, jigsaw-like progressions based around quality riffage, some blistering, shock and awe Hammett/ Hetfield scorched earth policy fretwork and acceptable lyrical forays into the therapy inspired nursery rhyme spit and bluster of that St Anger abomination.
Arguably their best effort since Master of Puppets.