Death Magnetic Studio album by K[o]R[N]|K[i]M[i] Released September 12, 2008 Recorded April 2007–May 2008 at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, Los Angeles, California; Shangri La Studios in Malibu, California; and HQ in San Rafael, California Genre Heavy metal, thrash metal Length 74:48 Label Warner Bros., Vertigo,Mercury, Universal Music Japan Producer Rick Rubin Metallica chronology St. Anger
Singles from Death Magnetic
Death Magnetic is the ninth album by American heavy metal band Metallica, released on September 12, 2008 through Warner Bros. Records. It is the band's first studio album to feature current bassist Robert Trujillo, as well as the first to be produced by Rick Rubin. Death Magnetic is also the band's first studio album released through Warner Bros., although they still remain with Warner Music Group, which also owns Elektra Records, their previous label (internationally they remain on Vertigo Records). The album is the band's fifth consecutive studio album to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 in the United States, making Metallica the first band ever to achieve five consecutive number one debuts.
As early as January 1, 2004, Metallica frontman and rhythm guitarist James Hetfield revealed that the band had roughly 18 songs that were not released on their 2003 album St. Anger, and that they could be reworked in the future, if not potentially released as is. Hetfield also said that they had been playing new material during studio sessions, but that there was no mention of plans for a ninth studio album as of yet. On March 12, drummer Lars Ulrich reported that the band had performed thirty-minute jam sessions prior to live performances, and that the jams are recorded for future reference. Select music from the jam sessions may be used on the album, as Ulrich stated, "I definitely look forward to sifting through some of that stuff when we get back to the studio in January." On that note, by October 2004 the band had already compiled nearly 50 hours of pre-set jamming, with hundreds of riffs, chord progressions and bass lines. On September 30, 2004, Launch Radio revealed from an interview with Hetfield that the band hoped to return to the studio in spring of 2005 to begin recording their ninth studio album for Warner Bros. Records.
On March 10, 2006, it was reported that the band was planning to use the following six months to write material for the album, in addition to the previous two months they had already been spending writing music. Lars Ulrich also stated that the band was getting along much better in the studio than they did during the recording of St. Anger. On April 6, Lars Ulrich revealed that the band had composed "six to seven" songs, (except for vocals), from their findings of the riff tapes recording during pre-sets of the Madly in Anger with the World Tour. He also said that by this point, the band's new material was reminiscent of "old school" Metallica works, and that it certainly did not feel like a St. Anger "part two".
On May 20, 2006, Kirk Hammett revealed that the band had 15 songs written and were writing on average two to three songs per week. James Hetfield also praised producer Rick Rubin for his production style in giving the band their own freedom and keeping the pressure at a minimum, despite the sessions becoming sometimes briefly unfocused. On May 27, Metallica updated their website with a video featuring information regarding the album. Lars Ulrich, who spearheaded the video, said about the new album:
|“||If you're in the studio, everybody presumes you're recording or making a record. Last time there was no real separation between the writing process and the recording process. With St. Anger nobody brought in any pre-recorded stuff or ideas; it was just make it up on the spot, be in the moment. So this time we are doing exactly what we did on all the other albums;— first we're writing, then we're recording. The only difference is that we're writing where we record. So we're writing here at HQ because this is our home, we're writing in the studio.||”|
On January 1, 2007, Lars Ulrich stated in an interview with Revolver that the band would be conceiving the album much like they did their albums prior to working with ex-producer Bob Rock; they would sit down, write a select amount of songs, then enter the studio to record them. He also quoted current producer Rick Rubin by saying Rubin didn't want them to start the recording process until every song that they were going to record was as close to 100 percent as possible.
On March 5, Ulrich revealed that the band had narrowed a potential 25 songs down to 14, and that they would begin recording those 14 songs on the following week. He also expanded on Rick Rubin's style of production, saying,
|“||Rick's big thing is to kind of have all these songs completely embedded in our bodies and basically next Monday, on D-Day, just go in and execute them. So you leave the creative element of the process out of the recording, so you go in and basically just record a bunch of songs that you know inside out and upside down, and you don't have to spend too much of your energy in the recording studio creating and thinking and analyzing and doing all that stuff. His whole analogy is, the recording process becomes more like a gig — just going in and playing and leaving all the thinking at the door.||”|
On March 14, the band's official website issued a statement: "Metallica left the comfort of HQ this week to descend upon the greater Los Angeles area to begin recording their ninth original album. This is the first time they've recorded outside of the Bay Area since they spent time at One-on-One Studios recording The Black Album in '90 and '91."This was confirmed on July 24, 2008 on Mission: Metallica, as a video surfaced showed the crew moving into Sound City Studios of Nirvana fame.
On June 4, bassist Robert Trujillo revealed that only select portions of the two new songs debuted in Berlin and Tokyo respectively would be featured on the album.
On July 1, Ulrich stated that all backing tracks were done in May. He said that all that the album was missing were vocals and overdubs, which were to be recorded in August. They hoped to have the album finished by October or November, when the album would be mixed. He predicted the album would be out in February 2008. He also revealed that the songs they are working with are quite long. By December 2007, it was reported by Rolling Stone, that overdubs and Hetfield's vocals still had yet to be recorded. On January 21, 2008, through pictures on Metclub.com's "Top Secret" section, it was revealed that Hetfield had begun recording vocals for the album.
On February 2, 2008, according to Sterlingsound.com, it was discovered that Ted Jensen from Sterling Sound Studios would be mastering the new record. According to Blabbermouth.net and other sources, Greg Fidelman, who had served as a sound engineer, had also been tapped to mix the album.
Ulrich confirmed on May 15, 2008 that Metallica recorded 11 songs for Death Magnetic, although only 10 would appear on the album due to the constraints of the physical medium. The eleventh song, titled "Shine", was a song Hetfield "based around a Layne Staley type, a rock & roll martyr magnetized by death."
Several unreleased songs from Death Magnetic, including the above mentioned "Shine", but also "To Hell and Back" and " Game ", were left off the record, but are rumored to be released as B-sides or on the next album. The titles were confirmed by Hammett and Ulrich on the MetOnTour video from December 20, 2008.
Lead guitarist Kirk Hammett also played a role in the inspiration of the title, when he brought a photograph of deceased Alice in Chains member Layne Staley to the studio where Metallica was recording. "That picture was there for a long time," said Hammett, "I think it pervaded James' psyche."Wondering why someone with such talent would choose this path, Hetfield started writing a song based on his questions (the unreleased song "Shine").
On July 16, 2008, Hetfield commented on the album's title:
|“||Death Magnetic, at least the title, to me started out as kind of a tribute to people that have fallen in our business, like Layne Staley and a lot of the people that have died, basically — rock and roll martyrs of sorts. And then it kind of grew from there, thinking about death… some people are drawn towards it, and just like a magnet, and other people are afraid of it and push away. And the concept that we're all gonna die sometimes is over-talked about and then a lot of times never talked about — no one wants to bring it up; it's the big white elephant in the living room. But we all have to deal with it at some point.||”|
The title is referenced in the track "My Apocalypse". According to Hammett, another title considered for the album was Songs of Suicide and Forgiveness.
In January 2008, a statement was made by Stereo Warning that the album would be delayed until September 2008, but was quickly denied by Metallica's management since an album without a defined release date can not be "delayed". The album, which was completed on August 10, 2008, was released on September 12, 2008 and issued in a variety of different packages.
On September 2, a French record store began selling copies of Death Magnetic, nearly two weeks ahead of its scheduled worldwide release date, which resulted in the album being made prematurely available on peer-to-peer clients. This prompted the band's United Kingdom distributor, Vertigo Records, to officially release the album two days ahead of schedule, on September 10. It is currently unconfirmed whether Metallica or Warner Bros. will be taking any action against the retailer, though drummer Lars Ulrich who was questioned about the leak on a San Francisco radio station responded,
|“||We're ten days from release. I mean, from here, we're golden. If this thing leaks all over the world today or tomorrow, happy days. Happy days. Trust me. Ten days out and it hasn't quote-unquote fallen off the truck yet? Everybody's happy. It's 2008 and it's part of how it is these days, so it's fine. We're happy.||”|
He later told USA Today,
|“||By 2008 standards, that's a victory. If you'd told me six months ago that our record wouldn't leak until 10 days out, I would have signed up for that. We made a great record, and people seem to be getting off on it way more than anyone expected.||”|
On September 15, 2008, after a reviewer for Swedish daily Sydsvenskan admitted that he preferred an illegal download of Death Magnetic to the official release, a scheduled interview was duly cancelled by Universal Music Sweden. Its president, Per Sundin said:
|“||The reviewer is referring to a BitTorrent where someone has altered the original songs. The reviewer explains exactly where one should go in order to download the file that totally infringes on a copyright. It's not only an illegal file, but an altered file. The reviewer also writes that this is how the album should have sounded. File-sharing of music is illegal. Period. There's nothing to discuss. That fact – that Sydsvenskan has a writer that has downloaded this music illegally and then makes mention of an illegal site in his review – is totally unacceptable to us.||”|
On the day of the release FMQB radio broadcast The World Premiere of Death Magnetic, which was heard on more than 175 stations across the United States and Canada.The live program from Metallica HQ featured all four members of Metallica talking with Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl and drummer Taylor Hawkins. Originally scheduled for a 90 minute broadcast, the show ended after two hours.
- Experience 2
- Digital download of Death Magnetic at 320 kbit/s, ringtones, two live shows, additional two hours of exclusive "making of" footage, 250 photos. Also includes exclusive Mission: Metallica footage of the writing and recording of Death Magnetic, as well as riffs and excerpts from it, exclusive photos and live tracks.
- Experience 3
- A physical copy of Death Magnetic CD.
- Experience 4
- A box set of Death Magnetic on five 180 gram vinyl LP albums, with five individual sleeves and a Mission: Metallica lithograph. Also includes the same extras as Experience 2 and 3. This set was limited to 5,000 copies.
- The Box Magnetic
- A collector's edition white coffin-shaped box which includes a Death Magnetic CD in a special carton box, an additional CD with 10 demos of the songs from the album entitled "Demo Magnetic", a DVD of additional "making of" footage not seen on Mission: Metallica, an exclusive t-shirt with the Death Magnetic logo, a flag, guitar picks, a back stage pass, a fold out coffin-shaped poster with the members of Metallica, and a collector's credit card with a code for a free download of a performance in Europe in September. This set was limited to 2,000 copies.
First songs performed
During their Escape from the Studio '06 tour, the band debuted two songs. "The New Song" debuted on the European leg in Berlin, Germany on June 6, 2006. The song, as performed, is approximately eight minutes long. The title was rumored to be "Death Is Not the End" as Hetfield repeatedly sings the line throughout the song. This song would appear again in multiple Fly on the Wall videos on the Mission: Metallica website, showing the band partway through the song's recording, as noted by the slower tempo and lack of lyrics. "The Other New Song" debuted on June 12, 2006 in Tokyo, Japan, and is much shorter, taking just below four minutes to perform. To the surprise of fans, Metallica played "The Other New Song" once again on June 29, 2007 in Bilbao, Spain. Although neither of the "New Songs" appear on the album themselves, "The End of the Line" and "All Nightmare Long" both contain elements of "The New Song".
On August 9, 2008, Metallica debuted the first album track, "Cyanide", at Ozzfest, in Dallas, Texas and was performed again on August 20, 2008 in Dublin, Ireland. On August 22, 2008 at the Leeds Festival, they debuted the first single, "The Day That Never Comes.
|1.||"That Was Just Your Life"||7:08|
|2.||"The End of the Line"||7:52|
|3.||"Broken, Beat & Scarred"||6:25|
|4.||"The Day That Never Comes"||7:56|
|5.||"All Nightmare Long"||7:58|
|7.||"The Unforgiven III"||7:46|
|8.||"The Judas Kiss"||8:00|
|9.||"Suicide & Redemption"||9:57|
|“||Lars is a good friend of mine. He played me the demos from San Francisco, and I turned and looked at him and I said, 'Master that shit and put it out.' It's ridiculous. The demos were sick. Eight-minute songs, all these tempo changes, crazy fast. It's like, 'Dude, don't get slower when you get older, but don't get faster!? How are you gonna play this live?' And then me and Lars were out partying all night, and he had to go in the studio the next day and do this stupid like nine- or ten-minute song, and I was laughing at him — because he played me the demo of it, and it was [sings really fast drum part], so fast. I called him, and said, 'Dude, how are you feeling?' He was like, 'Dude, I'm hurting.' They're cutting everything to tape, no fuckin' Pro Tools — live, no clicks.||”|
The album's first single, "The Day That Never Comes", was described as the most downbeat track on the album, and is said to be reminiscent of their 1990 Grammy-winning epic breakthrough single "One"; Rock Sound has also compared it to the likes of Thin Lizzy. The band has abandoned the solo-free approach that they followed on St. Anger, returning to complex, multi-layered arrangements such as those typically found on the band's fourth album ...And Justice for All.
Thrash Hits was one of the first websites, along with The Quietus to comment on Death Magnetic, suggesting "it is a vast improvement on 2003 album St Anger." Metal Hammer has noted on Death Magnetic's "sharp riffs" and "uncharacteristic bouncing grooves," and compares the band's sound throughout these six tracks to other bands including Slayer, Led Zeppelinand even Rage Against the Machine. Death Magnetic has been praised by fans as well as critics as a comeback for Metallica after the widely panned St. Anger. Dream Theaterdrummer Mike Portnoy has praised the album as well saying "Death Magnetic is hands down the best Metallica album in 20 years. This is the CD I've been waiting for them to make since…And Justice for All. And thumbs up to them for doing the first real Metallica instrumental in 20 years since 'To Live Is to Die'. Welcome back, boys."
While Metallica was on the first leg of their 2008 tour in Europe, a third party at their management Q Prime demanded that media impressions and blogs be taken down for reasons undefined. However, when notified upon their return to the United States, the band was reportedly angered by their management's demands, and drummer Lars Ulrich rectified this issue by posting as many links as Metallica could find on their official website, along with an apology.
Reviews for the album have been largely positive. Allmusic gave it 4 stars and state that the album is like "hearing Metallica sound like Metallica again". Other positive reviews come from publications like The Guardian, who say that the album is "the strongest material the band have written in 20 years", and Uncut, declaring that "like all the best heavy rock albums, it suspends your disbelief, demands your attention and connects directly with your inner adolescent".
|Q||UK||50 Best Albums of the Year||2008||#25|
|Uncut||UK||50 Best Albums of 2008||2008||#44|
|TIME||US||Top 10 Albums of 2008||2008||#3|
|Revolver||US||The 20 Best Albums of 2008||2008||#1|
|Rolling Stone||US||Best Albums of 2008||2008||#9|
|Metal Edge||US||50 Best Albums of 2008||2008||#2|
|Metal Hammer||UK||Critics' 50 Top Albums of 2008||2008||#1|
|Kerrang||UK||Album of the year 2008||2008||#1|
|Metal Maniacs||US||20 Metal Albums of 2008||2008||#20|
Sales and impact
Death Magnetic debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 490,000 copies in just three days of availability. It is the band's fifth consecutive studio album to debut at number one, making Metallica the first and only band with the most consecutive studio album releases to debut at number one. The album also had the highest first week sales of any Metallica album since 1996's Load.
According to Billboard Magazine, in the September 27, 2008 issue, Death Magnetic landed at number one on the following ten charts: Billboard Top 200, Billboard Comprehensive Albums,Top Rock Albums, Top Hard Rock Albums, Top Modern Rock/Alternative Albums, Top Digital Albums, Top Internet Albums, Top European Albums, Tastemakers, and Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks ("The Day That Never Comes"). The album stayed at number one for three consecutive weeks on the Billboard 200. Internationally, the album peaked at number one in 34 countries, including Ireland, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.
According to The Rock (a New Zealand radio station) the album became platinum on the first day of its release in New Zealand. In addition, nearly 60,000 copies were sold digitally, making it debut at number one on the Digital Album chart. The album debuted at number one in the official United Kingdom albums chart after just three days of availability, selling 75,164 copies. The album remained at number one for two weeks and has sold over 150,000 copies to date. In Canada, Death Magnetic was the number one album for four consecutive weeks, bringing its total sales of 240,000 units sold and became certified 3x platinum.
In Australia, Death Magnetic was the fastest selling album of 2008, selling 55,877 copies in its first full week of release. Death Magnetic was Australia's highest-selling record in one week since Australian Idol winner Damien Leith's The Winner's Journey, in December 2006. The same success was repeated in Germany, where Death Magnetic has become the fastest selling album of 2008. Within the first three days of the album's release, Death Magnetic sold over 100,000 copies and has been certified platinum. According to reports, Death Magnetic is outselling competitors in Russia and Turkey, two countries which don't have an official album chart.
In Finland, during the second week of January 2009, Death Magnetic jumped eighteen spots back up to number one on that country's album charts within one week.
Death Magnetic was certified platinum (1,000,000 units sold) by the RIAA on October 24, 2008.
Criticism regarding production
The album has been criticized for having compromised sound quality, due to an overly compressed dynamic range, leading to audible clipping anddistortion. Sean Michaels of The Guardian explains that "the sound issues are a result of the "loudness war" – an ongoing industry effort to make recordings as loud as possible". A Rolling Stone article states that Rick Rubin was "overseeing mixes in Los Angeles while the band is in Europe, headlining shows" and only communicated with him by conference calls. Fans have noted that these sonic problems are not present in the Guitar Hero version of the album, where the tracks are present separately because of the game mechanics. MusicRadar and Rolling Stone attribute a quote to the album's mastering engineer Ted Jensen in which he claims that "mixes were already brick-walled before they arrived" for mastering and cite a petition from fans to remix or remaster the album.
Metallica and Rubin initially declined to comment on the issue, while the band's co-manager Cliff Burnstein stated that complainers were in a minority and that response to the album had otherwise been "overwhelmingly positive". Lars Ulrich later confirmed in an interview with Blender, that some creative control regarding the album's production had indeed been transferred to Rubin but also stressed his satisfaction with the final product.
2009 Grammy nominations
- Best Rock Album
- Best Metal Performance ("My Apocalypse")
- Best Rock Instrumental Performance ("Suicide & Redemption")
- Best Recording Package
The album won two Grammys for "Best Metal Performance" and "Best Recording Package" at the 51st Grammy Awards on February 8, 2009. Rubin received the award as "Producer of the Year, Non-Classical" for the second time.