I'm not huge on the idea of downloading shit for free (sure we've all done it) .... especially from bands that I really love and respect. I couldn't help myself on this occasion and decided to get a sneaky look at what I think will be the biggest album of the year in the metal and possibly the rock and roll universe. No doubt I'll go out and buy the "ultra deluxe" version of the release within days of it coming out anyway, so there's no need to panic about Lars Ulrich's bank account going thin on my account.
The album opens with "Hardwired to Self Destruct" which has been leaked extensively by the band itself. It's a blistering return to form an it keeps going for most of the 80 minute duration of the release. This song is probably a little more intense than most material on the album but over all its a heavy affair and more importantly very coherent as a release. I don't believe in going into individual tracks but the album as a whole on an initial listen is a nicely varied slab of metal with material drawing in feelings from "Master of Puppets / ...And Justice for All" combined with some of the "Load" era material but at the same time continuing on from the "Death Magnetic" release. That may not make much sense but that's the feeling I got from it. The songs themselves are epic riff fests, very intricately arranged and multi-layered guitars, crushing riffs and some really tasty guitar solo's courtesy of Kirk Hammett.
James Hetfields voice has matured and progressed beyond anything he's done before in my opinion. Some of the trademark barking is there but the voice is much more refined and tuneful that its ever been. The songs themselves are mostly quite long epic affairs with many highs and lows. Over the 80 minutes I will say a couple of songs at the end of the album started to feel a bit long and drawn out but I'm not sure if I was mentally worn out, or the beers I'd had on commencement of the album started to take its toll.... but for the most part it kept my attention the whole way through with the exception of the second last song or so..... but to be fair 80+ minutes for an album is a big ask.
Overall.... the anger is back, the speed is back, the shred is back and this album really should blast them back into the forefront of heavy metal with the seasoned headbangers and newcomers alike. GO OUT AND GET IT AS SOON AS YOU CAN!
Of course, due to the EPIC nature of this release i'll post an update on what I think about it in a couple of weeks and a few more listens! STAY TUNED!!!
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