Sound — 8
So Metallica released an EP, barely a month and a half after "Lulu". Many fans say that this is their way to control the damage, others say it's just a part of the 30th anniversary celebration. The songs on this record are the tracks left over from "Death Magnetic", and they are remarkably good, for Metallica. With this EP they have made a great Christmas gift for their fans and proved that they aren't decadent quite yet. The guitar parts have some fun riffs but often seem to be lacking direction. The bass work from Trujillo is solid as always. Ulrich's drumming is typical of more modern Metallica and shows some skill. Hetfield's vocals are fairly good on this album and show some really nice melodic singing. Yet the guitar attack is what really draws us into this record. The guitar work on this album features some very impressive work. The riffage on these songs is very solid and allows for a lot of headbanging yet so many of the songs seem to lose direction after a point. One example of this is the track Hate Train which features a really well written heavy thrash riff that is then paused for an acoustic section and a melodic chorus. To me that just doesn't work. The changes in tempo are frustrating. In addition to this some of the riffs seem to have a punk rock flavor. This isn't bad, it just strikes me as slightly bizarre and thought it deserved mention. The solos however are very good and have a lot of high energy fills that show that Hammet hasn't completely lost it. The bass work from Trujillo on this record is pretty good and some of his fills are really nice. In particular the bass work on the riff of "Just A Bullet Away" is very good. Trujillo shows a lot of aggression and he manages to get a bit of a thrash metal tone back in Metallica's rhythm section. Ulrich's drums are typical of his more recent stuff and they feature a lot of different fills. He could have a better attack and his technique is not the best. Yet his experience shines through and his drumming leaves Metallica with their signature sound.
Lyrics — 8
The vocals of Hetfield are actually pretty solid and show that he is still advancing. His melodic vocals on "Hate Train" show a lot of skill. Hetfield's vocals are simply awesome, he still possesses some of the old anger but now it's tempered a little. I feel that if he had more of that raw energy left in him he could bring focus back into the songs that get lost. As for his lyrics, they leave a lot to be desired, they are typically poorly written and make me facepalm. For example Hate Train starts of with the lyrics "Hate/on a train", and frankly, it doesn't get much better. The only song showing true lyrical skill is "Rebel Of Babylon" which is honestly, rather epic. All in all Hetfield's vocals are rather similar to those on "Death Magnetic" but with lyrics that could have some improvement.
Overall Impression — 8
In conclusion, this new EP from Metallica is very decent and features some fairly good songs. The riffs are typically well done and when the songs stay focused they are quite good. The solos are decent and show that Hammet still is rather skilled. The bass work of Trujillo is heavy as ever and he shows that he can thrash just as well as the other guys. Ulrich's drumming is decent, and while it could have more aggression it does a good job capturing the air of the album. To finish, this is a decent EP that is definitely worth checking out, it is a great sign for the future of this band. If you like my stuff please check out my blog at Twoguysmetalreviews.blogspot.com.