Metallica - Beyond Magnetic
On the back of their 30th anniversary celebration where they debuted these "new" songs, Metallica have collected the four tracks left off Death Magnetic for the Beyond Magnetic EP and (eventually) put them onto CD. They have made much of the fact that they are all rough mixes, still in the same state as when they did the mix down at the end of recording. As much as this sounds like a pre-emptive excuse, they actually benefit from this lack of meddling. Devoid of the over-compression and zealous tinkering, the tunes have an organic rawness that has been sorely lacking in Metallica's studio recordings ever since 1983. Hell, ever the snare drum sound is at last bearable!
Having dodged that particular bullet, unfortunately these four do suffer from the other major hindrance that was derided on the parent record: their rambling nature. All in excess of seven minutes, there is no obvious reason for them to go much beyond five. Instead they wander through the odd nonsensical breakdown, such as 'Just A Bullet Away' appearing to be side-tracked by a whole other song; or in the case of 'Rebel Of Babylon', simply too many repetitions of every section.
Yet despite these quibbles, this is a highly enjoyable thirty minutes of thrash punctuated by catchy riffs and the sense of band just jamming out for the sheer hell of it. Beyond Magnetic might not be a 'serious' release, but it highlights very nicely what the band can still do if they took their heads out of their collective rear end and went back, to borrow a phrase on the press release, to the old school. But will they actually learn from this fun little venture? I wouldn't raise any hopes…