Album Review: Metallica – Beyond Magnetic EP




The past four years of musical peaks and follies have polarized more Metallica fans than the day James Hetfield met his barbers and therapists aplenty. In 2008, Death Magnetic returned a thrash magnate to its former glory, buried a years-old hatchet amidst the Big 4, and won major heavy metal nostalgic favor from several generations of listeners. Alternatively, there is Lulu — an album more haphazardly cobbled together than the mannequin that graces its cover art.

Beyond Magnetic is a nifty, little fans-only EP of songs originally penned for its ’08 counterpart, now released to a public feeling drowsy from side effects associated with Lou Reed. While typically demos are virtually immune to criticism — unfinished/unrefined works not intended to see sales — Beyond Magnetic stands defiant, a modicum of redemption coinciding with Metallica’s 30th anniversary as a band. But does a half hour of rough cuts void Lulu‘s poetic gobbledygook?

Songs present range from stupidly silly lyrical drivel (“Hate Train”) that sounds fairly dark on guitar to disconcerting, phallic euphemisms only Chad Kroeger could love (“Just a Bullet Away”) to ambition lost in side-tracked artists (“Rebel of Babylon”, “Hell and Back”). In essence, you can see what subject matter Metallica aimed for; however, Death Magnetic wound up buttoning that rather succinctly in the finished product, leaving already lesser-known pieces behind for very good reason. Throw in uneven mix quality or blatant defects, such as a mile-wide sound gap at the four-minute mark of “Just a Bullet Away”, and Beyond Magnetic is listless, pointless neutrality on a moving train.

Essential Tracks: “Rebel of Babylon”