Metallica seem to be a bit of a mixed bag these days when it comes to album releases. As the undisputed juggernaughts of metal the band have gifted us with some of music’s most inspiring and influential recordings over the past 30 years, however, with the abismal (and much slated) collaborative effort with The Velvet Revolver front man Lou Reed 2011’s Lulu proving to be more bore than brilliant the foursome now attempt to mend the holes in the hearts of their fans with a four track EP of tracks that never made it to the final cut of the bands last studio album, Death Magnetic. Though a big task is ahead of them Beyond Magnetic does revive some of the glory that the iconic collective have achieved.
Some may see Beyond Magnetic as a lazy or unnecessary release for Metallica as they revisit the past and add a long overdue extension to a record that the band had put to rest four years ago but it has to be said that some of the tracks on this collection are well deserving of a little time in the spotlight. Saying this however, Metallica are a little unpredictable these days and haven’t shown consistency in quite some time so with the good also comes some bad on the EP.
Starting off with Hate Train the power of Metallica is there in all its glory, there is no denying that, but it has to be said that the opening track is as dull as dishwater. The instrumentation, for the most part, sits uncomfortably in the number as if blind and trying to find its place on the track and the EP. It’s not all grim however as Hetfield offers a vocal versatility within the track as he swings from rock hero to crooner at several points within the number showing off his artistry as a vocalist.
Just A Bullet Away stands out for all the wrong reasons. They could have easily left this number off the Beyond Magnetic and I highly doubt it would be missed as there is no memorability or longevity to the track. It’s puzzling structure leaves us unsure of whether the song is coming or going and at mid way point goes as far as halting for a good five seconds before the track veers off in a totally different direction as it begins with a guitar picking and euphoric feel, very unlike the previous aggressiveness expelled in the tracks first four minutes.
Hell and Back offers a little more consistency as the thrash metal icons take out all forms of rage on a number well deserving of a little limelight. Hetfield’s vocals are pristine and charged while his band mates offer a meaty backing including an impressive guitar solo nearing the end of the track.
Closing the EP is Rebel Of Babylon and we are left on a high note as the band offer a beefy number that begins off soft and semi acoustic before tearing through eight minutes of head thrashing epicness while Hetfield spits out some dark and angst-ridden lyrics. Musically and vocally Rebel Of Babylon is the highlight on the record and offers the band some redemption for any of the previous lacklustre moments preceding the closing number.
Beyond Magnetic was released to coincide with the bands impressive 30 years in the industry and although we are only offered four tracks on the EP each is a lengthy addition racking the EP’s duration up to a meaty 30 minutes. Though the band have a lot to make up for with such inconsistent releases over the past decade, Beyond Magnetic is a good place to start.
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