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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

‘Magnetic’ a return to classic Metallica

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No, “Death Magnetic” doesn’t sound anything like “St. Anger.” Automatically, it’s an upgrade from that 2003 catastrophic disappointment. But not only have the grizzled, graying legends of metal exceeded expectations in what could have been their final bid to stay relevant, they’ve reassured the world: Metallica still rocks.

In some aspects, James Hetfield and company have embraced what made them Metallica in the first place. The raw and unrefined sound from “St. Anger” is long gone. Drummer Lars Ulrich has ditched the garbage can lids, resulting in a refreshing sound that’s powerful and polished, probably thanks to the switch to producer Rick Rubin.

A majority of the 10 tracks on “Death Magnetic” run over seven minutes, with long stretches of classic Kirk Hammett solos, rapid-fire drums and dueling guitar jams from Hammett and Hetfield. It’s an energized new sound, an evolved meshing of the Black Album and everything that came before.

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“All Nightmare Long,” an 8-minute epic, is the album’s centerpiece, the quintessential new-age Metallica track. Perhaps inspired by the U.S. military using their music to torture prisoners, Hetfield calls out over a shock-and-awe assault of drums and guitars, “We’ll hunt you down with no mercy/ hunt you down all nightmare long.” The chorus is punctuated as only Hetfield can, “You crawl back in/ but you’re luck runs out.”

As for bassist Robert Trujillo, who makes his first studio appearance with the band, he’s mostly a ghost. It’s not until the album’s next-to-last track, “Suicide & Redemption,” that he really gets to shine. It’s on this 10-minute instrumental masterpiece where the whole group finds their groove. It’s Metallica’s first time skipping vocals since “.And Justice For All,” and with constantly evolving rip-roaring riffs, alternating speeds and depths, it’s a must-hear, and hell, worth the 20-year wait.

“The Day That Never Comes,” the single that’s tearing up the active rock charts, might mislead listeners. With a slower intro and opening verse, it’s possible to think Metallica has recorded another “Load.” But the track winds up being one of the album’s most unique. The song’s progression is a ticking bomb, slowly building until it erupts just before the 5-minute mark.

Metallica fans are hard to please. They will always expect another mind-blowing thrasher like “Master of Puppets” or an album as successful and transcendent as the Black Album, but it’s just not feasible. When handling “Death Magnetic,” realistic expectations are required. It should be appreciated, for it’s the late-career peak for Metallica.

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