I would rate the Metallica albums as follows, bottom of the list is probably Kill Em All, followed by St. Anger, S&M, Garage Inc, Ride the Lightning, Justice for All, Re-Load, Load, Metallica (Black), and Master of Puppets. So where would I place Death Magnetic? That’s an awfully good question.
Undoubtedly the album is better than St. Anger. For one, they’ve spent some time actually playing music. The guitar solos have returned, and a lot of the tracks have a good two or three minutes of just guitars and drums without vocals. There is even an instrumental track, something not seen since Master (if you exclude the intro of S&M, which, considering it is a live show, and not a studio album should, actually, be excluded). But is it better than S&M? Well, since S&M should be excluded, yes. Is it better than Garage Inc? Since Garage Inc is just covers, again, yes.
Is it better than Ride the Lightning? That’s a tough question and depends on your state of Metallica. Before Load, Metallica had a definitive song edge, since load they’ve got, for lack of a better term, a rougher edge to their music. It’s more discordant, and the number of tempo and rhythm changed is staggering, and that’s just in a single track.
I would go so far as to say that I would place this album at the same level as Load. It is nowhere near as epic as Metallica, it lacks the anthems of Master, but it is a good album. I’ve already listened to it twice. It far surpasses St. Anger, which, if anything, is a blemish on their career.
Don’t get me wrong, St. Anger had a couple of good tracks. But that was the problem with it, it had a couple of good tracks. Some of the songs suffer from Next Buttonia – the unquestionable urge to thumb that Next Button because, well, the track just outright sucks.
I would give Death Magnetic a 3.5 out of 5. Then again, I’ve only listened to it twice. And there are some righteous marching tracks on there, which I always like ;-). You must listen to Broken Beat and Scarred. It’s good. So is Judas Kiss, which I would rate as the number one track so far.