Beyond Magnetic (EP)
Warner Brothers, 2011
REVIEW BY: Paul Hanson
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/18/2012
For whatever reason, the CD player in my GMC Canyon truck started working as I came home from my friend Bill’s house recently, so, on a whim, I tried putting Death Magnetic into my CD drive. It had not accepted a CD for months, and Bill had borrowed Death Magnetic for a motorcycle ride weeks earlier. I have spent the last several weeks blasting this CD on my ride to and from work, to and from music lessons, to and from school. I have even noticed my son tapping his leg to the syncopated start of “Cyanide.” I consider Death Magnetic to be a great release – I gave it an A when I reviewed it.
So Beyond Magnetic arrives. It is an EP of the four songs that Metallica premiered during their 30th birthday celebration in December 2011. The celebration lasted four nights and they played one of these four songs each night. Basically, Metallica was okay to not include these songs on Death Magnetic. One could make the argument that the physical capacity of the CD caused the band to cut these four songs from the release.
Each of these songs sounds like a demo, and I don’t mean the sound quality. The band has been very adamant that these songs were not given the “full treatment” (my phrase) as far as mastering and getting them to sound fantastic. I’m okay with that, actually. I really like watching “The Making of Magnetic” on YouTube and I’ve heard the demos of the songs on Death Magnetic.
The question becomes, then, if the CD had the capacity for these four songs, would I have liked the release as much as I do? Probably not. The lyrics to “Hate Train” deal with the emotion of hate, but the other songs on Death Magnetic, in some way, all seemed to tie in with the idea of death. The musical territory on these four songs is very similar to the tracks that made DM. While the musicianship and the riffing is strong on these four tracks, I have to hand it to whomever was the voice of reason that said, “These are the four that have to go.” Now, could Metallica have trimmed “Suicide And Redemption” down to under four minutes? Probably. They could have easily trimmed it in half and had a more focused instrumental. That probably would have allowed “Hate Train” onto I.
The main thing you need to know is that Metallica wrote these four songs as part of the Death Magnetic writing cycle. I enjoy these songs. If you have Windows Media Player, it’s interesting to try and fit these four songs into the flow of DM without disrupting the existing flow. Perhaps if my CD player had not started working again, I would have been more receptive to these songs.