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Metallica writes thrash again? - 75%

JewBaccaThrasher, July 12th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2014, Digital, Blackened Recordings

With the release of the Lords of Summer, it feels like Metallica are just trying a little too hard, though the results are far better than 'passable,' ironically. While not quite as contrived as the material found on Death Magnetic, Lords of Summer carries not only a similarly muddied production (more on that in a bit), but also the same sense of aimlessness that plagued their 2008 record. This song feels slightly experimental, like Metallica are trying to get a feel for what the fans expect from them. The result is an 8-minute pile of ideas that range from excellent to mediocre and/or bad.

Let's get down to the details. Lords of Summer, all in all, is the heaviest and thrashiest song Metallica has written since 1988. The guitar work, first of all, is quite good at parts. The main riff, along with the middle harmonized passage, and the riff at 6:45 all sound adequately powerful. Kirk's solo is decent too, though it needs tweaking. The drumming, surprisingly, manages to propel the song along at a moderate pace without sounding noticeably bad or totally monotonous. Lars is no Gene Hoglan, which is to say he certainly is not and can never be a god, but his fills and footwork aren't totally laughable either. The drums just work. Unfortunately there isn't much to say about Lars' rhythmic counterpart, Rob Trujillo, whose proficient bass is nearly inaudible. Next come James' vocals. For first impressions, I felt like his singing was gruffer and wilder than all his work on Death Magnetic. The whininess found on St. Anger and, to a lesser degree, DM, is completely gone, and a good bit of his grit is back. Lyrically, this song brings back a lot of elements from the Kill 'Em All days as well.

There are several glaring flaws, however. The chief problem is that the song is simply too damn long for it's own good. There are also not enough riffs to fill out the entire 8 minutes and 20 seconds. To compensate for this, James and Kirk repeat the riffs in order to maintain the song structure, mostly at the cost of my patience. The production is another problem. It lacks the punch of their 80's material, though it's not quite as bad as the production of DM and St. Anger. The guitars just don't have the right kind of distortion or tone that belong in thrash metal. However, it's important to keep in mind that this is a simple demo song of sorts, and shouldn't be entirely judged as a finished product. Metallica appear to be interested in writing thrash metal again, which I'd say is a good thing, though it remains to be seen if they can actually pull it off with the competence of their early 80's records. Good luck to them.