Metallica

Black Wizard

Pleb Hunter
Funnily enough I was just listening to Hardwired and lamenting over how bad of an album it is. Those guys have no idea how to trim the fat on any of those songs. And it's a shame because I like the first 2 minutes of about every song on there, before realizing it goes on for an additional 5 minutes. Bleh. No one wants to listen to 80 minutes of modern Metallica.
They learned that from their #1 influence, Iron Maiden
I think Metallica had this issue long before Iron Maiden started expanding their average song length. It might be noticeable first in 'And Justice For All' which has two songs longer than 9 minutes, although they are both a hell of a lot more interesting than what appeared on 'Death Magnetic' and 'Hardwired... To Self-Destruct'.

Average track length on 'Death Magnetic' is about seven-and-a-half minutes, and for the most recent album it's somewhere between six and seven minutes. Most of these songs are a couple of minutes longer than they ought to be and would have benefited from a more succinct approach. The thing I remember most about the two most recent albums is that there's not a lot of memorable moments. I'm sure if they had written more compact, slimmed-down songs then I'd have enjoyed the albums a lot more.

I was reading an online discussion a while ago about how Metallica would have sounded had Cliff Burton survived in 1986. One participant suggested that they may have ended up going in the same musical direction anyway but Cliff would at least have exerted a positive influence on their current lack of self-editing. I can't find the discussion but there is a brief review of 'Hardwired... To Self-Destruct' here in which the reviewer applies his same criticisms of 'Death Magnetic' to the current album.
 

MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
Self-editing is definitely a big problem with Metallica and it's only gotten worse since they stopped working with hands-on producers. I was watching this video and thinking how much they need this kind of input while creating music. James is great at creating something and finishing it, Lars is great at arranging it, but only if someone else is there to pick up the other 25% (editing). Not to mention someone to push lazy ass players like Kirk into doing something great.

Iron Maiden has this same issue, but they benefit from their overall sound being more open-ended and melodic, and thus, less sonically rigid when it reaches elongated track lengths.

Also, let's be real, the problem with Maiden's songwriting has never been how long the song is, just if it's good or not. Metallica's issue is never knowing when to edit, be it in-song or on the overall album.
 

The Flash

Dennis Wilcock did 9/11
Average track length on 'Death Magnetic' is about seven-and-a-half minutes, and for the most recent album it's somewhere between six and seven minutes. Most of these songs are a couple of minutes longer than they ought to be and would have benefited from a more succinct approach. The thing I remember most about the two most recent albums is that there's not a lot of memorable moments. I'm sure if they had written more compact, slimmed-down songs then I'd have enjoyed the albums a lot more.

I think there definitely are a lot of memorable moments on Death Magnetic. James really brought his riff-writing game on that album. I do agree, though, that many of the songs needed trimming. 'The End of the Line', 'Broken, Beat & Scarred', 'The Unforgiven III', 'The Judas Kiss' and 'Suicide and Redemption' are a minute or two too long.
 

KidInTheDark666

What's yours is mine and what's mine is mine too
In my opinion Death Magnetic contains some of Metallica's best songs. The only real flaw is the awful production.
 

The Flash

Dennis Wilcock did 9/11
I maintain that Death Magnetic would be regarded as the new-age Metallica classic had the songs been trimmed a little bit and the production hadn't been so atrocious. It's on a whole different level compared to Hardwired...to Self Destruct when it comes to the musical ideas on the album.
 

Mosh

Winner of the 2020 Dumbest Comment Ever Award
Staff member
I agree that Death Magnetic is far stronger than Hardwired. I think Hardwired gets the edge and is more popular thanks to the better production, but the songs on Death Magnetic are infinitely better. Both albums suffer from overly long songs though.
 

Dityn DJ James

A coma stole my name.
I had to relisten to Death Magnetic after listening to Hardwired and man, Death Magnetic is so much better. Right from the get go too. Riffs are genuinely aggressive (they don't sound like a hard rock band playing a bastardized version of thrash metal ala lots of Hardwired) and James is so full of vitriol on Death Magnetic. Also, since Load every one of their LP's has been over 70 minutes. By any stretch, those are some long albums, and a lot to digest. Ride the Lightning, pretty universally hailed as their best (and my favorite), is only 48 minutes.
 

Jer

Sweet voices come into my head
I enjoy Death Magnetic a lot, but it always felt a bit forced to me, like they were trying too hard to make the songs longer and have more change-ups in them, and it didn’t feel natural as a result. Later on I read articles describing the songwriting process and apparently they’d bring stuff to Rick Rubin and he would tell them it wasn’t “absurd enough” yet, so they’d throw some more change-ups in there and get it to the point where it hit what Rubin was going for.

Hardwired feels more honest to me. I think these guys still like cool little flourishes in their songs and riffs, but they prefer to write simpler stuff overall, and I think that comes through in the work. Would I prefer something unforced in the vein of Death Magnetic vs. something like Hardwired? Yes. Will I get it? Probably not.
 

The Flash

Dennis Wilcock did 9/11
Riffs are genuinely aggressive (they don't sound like a hard rock band playing a bastardized version of thrash metal ala lots of Hardwired)

It's not just the aggression, they're just much more creative and memorable. The main riff on 'That Was Just Your Life', the second riff on 'Broken, Beat & Scarred', the legato riff in the instrumental section of 'The Day That Never Comes', pretty much every riff on 'All Nightmare Long', the chorus riff on 'Cyanide', the chorus riff on 'The Judas Kiss', the interlude riff on 'Suicide & Redemption' are notable ones I can list without having to relisten to the songs. Hardwired...to Self-Destruct has a couple memorable grooves, but the riffs are nowhere near as creative. I wouldn't really be able to come up with such a list for that album.
 

srfc

Ancient Mariner
I think both albums are decent enough, and I can't see that much of a difference between them, they are much of a muchness, I definitely think it's not a case that one of them is bad and one is good.
 

Black Wizard

Pleb Hunter
Self-editing is definitely a big problem with Metallica and it's only gotten worse since they stopped working with hands-on producers. I was watching this video and thinking how much they need this kind of input while creating music. James is great at creating something and finishing it, Lars is great at arranging it, but only if someone else is there to pick up the other 25% (editing). Not to mention someone to push lazy ass players like Kirk into doing something great.
And then in the Some Kind of Monster documentary Kirk goes on to say "I am no longer interested in playing traditional guitar solos". Exodus are probably glad Kirk left and losing the 'Creeping Death' riff with him was probably worth it.

Also, since Load every one of their LP's has been over 70 minutes. By any stretch, those are some long albums, and a lot to digest. Ride the Lightning, pretty universally hailed as their best (and my favorite), is only 48 minutes.
Metallica really need to learn the idea that "less is more". If I listen to a good album that is about 45 minutes long then I want to listen to it again but Metallica's 4 studio albums post-Black Album bore me. A great entertainer is supposed to leave the audience wanting more, but Metallica leave me begging for less.

I remember when 'Death Magnetic' was released it got rave reviews and some people I knew at the time thought it was amazing. I'm sure they only felt that way because it wasn't 'St. Anger' and had it been released in place of 'Load' then there would have been outrage.
 

The Flash

Dennis Wilcock did 9/11
Both Hardwired and The Book of Souls were disappointments for me.

It's been a while since one of my favorite bands have dropped a record that made it to my favorite albums list.
 

Ruflux

Ancient Mariner
Hardwired was okay. I like Spit Out the Bone a lot in particular, but I find most of it pretty listenable. They could've easily cut out most of disc two without losing anything and ended up with a much tighter eight song album. Confusion is the only one on that half I'd leave, other than Spit.

DM is just kind of all over the place in comparison. Bad arrangements, occasional good riffs but a lot of what I'd call tryhard moments, like the vocal phrasing in the verses in TWJYL which sounds like James listened to too much Slayer or something before writing the part. The production doesn't help the album any. I wouldn't call it bad either, but it's definitely a bit hard to listen to casually. HTSD is sort of the same, but I do think it feels less harsh overall. There definitely are less memorable riffs on HTSD though, that's very true.

Both are still miles better than St. Anger and a fair amount of ReLoad, though.
 

Detective Beauregard

Independent as a hog on ice
Hardwired was okay. I like Spit Out the Bone a lot in particular, but I find most of it pretty listenable. They could've easily cut out most of disc two without losing anything and ended up with a much tighter eight song album. Confusion is the only one on that half I'd leave, other than Spit.
Agreed. I would leave one of the four weaker disc two songs (I think Murder One is the strongest), though.

Death Magnetic definitely had less filler. Actually, I can’t think of a song on that album that I dislike.
 
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